Spotting the Losers

Seven Signs of Non-Competitive States by Ralph Peters : A fascinating and somewhat prophetic essay that, in pointing out how other countries fail, actually highlights the successes of US culture. Success is eccentric, but failure is predictible. Peters has selected some excellent "signs" of non-competitive behaviour; I find that there is little to add. It very clearly defines some of the differences between us and our enemies in the "war". There are lots of keen observations to go along with his signs, like this one:
Information is more essential to economic progress than an assured flow of oil. In fact, unearned, "found" wealth is socially and economically cancerous, impeding the development of healthy, enduring socioeconomic structures and values. If you want to guarantee an underdeveloped country's continued inability to perform competitively, grant it rich natural resources. The sink-or-swim poverty of northwestern Europe and Japan may have been their greatest natural advantage during their developmental phases. As the Shah learned and Saudi Arabia is proving, you can buy only the products, not the productiveness, of another civilization.
Interesting stuff, and so true. Saudi Arabia's future, in particular, is very uncertain because of their reliance on the oil industry (and their reluctance to create any other national industry). I believe that even they recognize this problem, and are trying to fix it, but I think it may be too late. I found the article at USS Clueless a while back, and Steven Den Beste rightly recognizes that there are those in America, on both the far right and the far left, that seek to (re)impose several of the signs of failure on our nation. Indeed, some of them haven't been abolished here very long, and a return to these destructive ways would be disasterous...