The Retromancer's Cave

Summary: A washed up Internet personality blogs about the near future..

Flashpoints: Pacific Crisis

By Mike "The Retromancer" Wolfe

Listen up, everyone. I'm going to put my normal review schedule on hold to blog about current events here. We've got a real big clusterfuck about to go down. I hate politicians and bringing politics onto my show, but I think it's important to keep in mind what's at stake here. Two of the world's superpowers are butting heads, and they've brought their friends along. The Pacific might as well be one giant keg of gunpowder, and everyone's tossing in as many matches as they can find. All the major players, economically, politically, and militarily, are marching to suicide with a speed that would give lemmings pause.

This isn't just some backwater border skirmish. The whole Pacific Rim's loaded with pissed off people and lots of tensions. The Southeast Asian countries and China want the shipping routes in the South China Sea and the resources under it. The Diaoyu dispute between China and Japan has flared up yet again, and that's not even getting into the clusterfuck that is the Spratlys. Let's not forget everyone's favorite batshit crazy dictatorship, North Korea, starting another round of missile tests just in time. And, of course, there's the elephant in the room, Taiwan. Since the US economy went down the shitter, they've turned to commercial ties with the mainland. No wonder they voted to end up like Hong Kong or Macau, rather than risk invasion by the mainland or having their assets looted by American banks. (Same difference, really.)

That's just the start. We kept treating this planet like a septic tank, and we really paid the price for it. There's plenty of Pacific island countries and coastal regions that got flooded by rising seas, scattering those populations to the four winds. Just over in the Indian Ocean, you'd need to see to believe the horrors going in that neighborhood. All those glaciers in the Himalayas water what's left of both Indian and Chinese farmland, and those've gotten smaller. Add in the border disputes between them and decades of proxy war in Nepal, and you've got another potential nuclear standoff there. And what's to say Pakistan won't join in on the fun? Their current leaders remember all those American drone strikes and black ops, and still bear grudges about it. (Gee, I wonder why.) What's left of Afghanistan is just a mess of theocrats and drug lords slugging it out. And let's not even touch the Middle East at all. I've got enough trolls and flames already.

Is there any hope? How about Europe, you ask? My friends over there say they've got nationalistic parties channelling the goddamn Nazis. They've been rising in the polls there since what passes for the opposition are blatant shills for the broken banking sector. The robber barons there are just grabbing whatever isn't nailed down before hightailing it out of there. Germany and northern Europe are banking on exports, but have very few people to export to. The French seem to be doing an Inverse French Revolution, where they argue on which kleptocrat will swipe their savings faster. And the British government continues acting as the 51st state, America's sock puppet in the region. It's sad that the nation that the sun never set on has been reduced to this, folks. Then there's the peripheral countries, which have effectively collapsed years ago.

How about America? Land of the Formerly Free? Home of the Once Brave? The place has spiralled downwards faster than you can flush a toilet. They've outsourced much of the military to drones, black ops, and private contractors who would make Nixon look honest. Don't you say anything, though, since they can indefinitely detain, execute, or disappear anyone they want anywhere in the world. Since for-profit prisons run what passes for a justice system, you can expect them to want to criminalize as much as they can. There's enough broad laws out there to lock any of us up for life. Since oil and natural gas prices are so damn high, the Baby Boomer dream is effectively dead. No more homes in the suburbs with daily commutes to work. A whole Lost Generation of couch potatoes languishes in their parents' homes, with no prospects or realistic hopes. (Like me, for instance.)

Prisons, fossil fuels, weapons, finance, and surveillance are what passes for the dominant industries here, and they all have political connections, subsidies, and bailouts. You have to pay lobbyists to play the game. Let's not forget what happened to Silicon Valley. Technology companies got screwed by ancient media firms, and they started suing each other over poorly-worded patents rather than making new products or services. Patent trolls and the Intellectual Properties mafia ensure there's litigation over innovation. Let's not forget the rising hate crimes and spree-killers. It's almost quaint to think that so many people think stricter laws will make them any safer from the mad gunmen and deranged bombers. The government doesn't give a damn either way, since they're more out of touch with reality than most crazy people are. (They do, however, welcome any excuse to toss more people into prison.)

When the whole world goes mad, who can you trust? Me, of course, because I'm already mad, and I freely admit it. I'm the Retromancer, and I've seen this before. Who wants another World War? We had the last one because of a bad Austrian artist and his friends trying to piss the rest of the world off. This time, all the oil's nearly gone, all the money is looted, and most people have no one to blame but themselves. The fact there are nukes pointed everywhere means the only thing left after we nuke the planet are some cockroaches and people from New Jersey. The only group to benefit from this are people from that state, since nuking it would be an improvement, and the mutants there are already immune to nuclear fallout. Once the nukes get launched, I'll share my only regret: that I lived in fucking New Jersey for too long. Fuck this place, and fuck anyone who wants to turn the world into this place.