The year 2019 was turning into as tumultuous a year for Obama as 2010 had been. Now in the second year of his third term, unprecedented since the war years with FDR, he was struggling to maintain an atmosphere of calm within a nation that felt itself assailed from all sides.
The 2nd Depression of 2010-15 had seen the US revert back toward isolationism, with less influence or caring for foreign affairs. The currency devaluation race with Europe and Asia had resulted in the US dollar being worth just a third of what it had been in 2009, as all of the industrial nations printed paper money to grant them a competitive labour rate advantage.
When the Chinese Yuan finally rose sufficiently in 2014, largely from the influence of their domestic savings, that brought China’s manufacturing costs within hailing distance of those in the West for all but the most labour-intensive industries, and factories began to re-appear in Europe and America. Only England and Japan remained fully in a depression, and these were in relative terms as those societies continued to sell off overseas assets sufficient to maintain minimal social relief programs.
Obama was nonetheless confronted with governing a country that was grateful for his stewardship throughout the Depression, but sharply divided over the role and future of the military that had been so savaged by the world’s gravitation toward the stewardship of the United Nations.
Faced with the plight of millions of homeless and jobless roaming US cities, mixed in with a gun culture that was ubiquitous, streets after dark had become a bad dream from the lawless Wild West. The situation was equally terrifying in England, which for two years had virtually subsisted on emergency grain and meat loaned to them by Argentina and Canada, which was itself bursting with British, Dutch and French refugees fleeing a bankrupt Europe.
What had begun as a reaction to militarism and the wars of the Bush era came to a head in 2012 when Congress reduced the Pentagon’s military spending budget to a fifth of what it had been during the previous decade, as all sympathy for government spending outside of social programs evaporated with the deteriorating economic situation and the rolling riots that plagued American towns – the escalating need for more police trumped high tech weaponry.
This reaction reached its zenith with the redrafting of the 2nd Amendment, to now stipulate that “The right of the People to keep and bear arms, or to forsake arms and war, shall not be infringed.” The beginning of that provision “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…” was removed.
The US Supreme court, in a sequence of judgements from 2014-17 had ruled that this compromise, drafted in response to a clamouring for gun control, meant that citizens could now declare themselves to be conscientious objectors when faced with military service, and had the further right to forward half of their national defence taxes to the United Nations as their contribution toward global vs domestic security. Similar legislation was passed by the European Community as a means of eliminating military spending, and the process was reduced to an option during annual income tax filings.
Fiscally destitute and legally emasculated, the US military had become a shadow of itself in less than a decade, and the rest of the world had quickly followed suit with their own demobilizations, driven by the privations of a harrowing five year depression and a growing distaste for the dangers and waste attending military spending, which became an uncompetitive practice with arms sales now universally illegal. The task of rebuilding the ruined economies following the 2nd Depression had traumatized a once complacent Europe and Japan, both now struggling to afford escalating food costs, and their citizens demanded a broader-based global security at the least possible cost.
When the UN offered to credit disarming nations a portion of their dues for decommissioned ships and major weapons systems, the ship breakers in China did indeed become busy.
Finally, the continuing legacy of the Bush era and the influence that the Christian religious right had enjoyed was in full rebuke by most of America, as it sought to rebuild its reputation within the world federation. Secularism and scepticism supplanted much of organized religion.
When Canadian humanists began a campaign that polled the citizens of major countries on whether they favoured becoming a “4N Nation”, a play on denigrating American jargon that stood for a “Non-Nuclear Neutral UN” protectorate, the press could not ignore the fact that every nation had resoundingly approved the idea. A tidal wave of tax funds flowed toward a UN stripped of its undemocratic Security Council, which had vetoed reform for generations. With it came a broad phalanx of Humanist organizations bent on formalizing this latest renaissance of awareness for our species and the planet.
The UN was thus enfranchised to displace all military bodies and their weapons systems, but it too was sensitive to the new economics of scarcity and each country’s voting power was weighted not by its population, but by its monetary contribution in the previous fiscal year. The perennial claim that a few banana republics could out-vote entire continents had been allayed.
Increasingly, the world’s currency was becoming the UNo, a silver bullion coin the size of a Euro and bearing the logo of the UN, that could be minted by any UN-licensed party. It constituted its own collateral, which people came to demand following the devaluations of paper money. With the growing scarcity of silver, the UNo currency appreciated and a gold UNo came into bank circulation as well.
The UK, the US, Holland and Israel had rejected the UN’s schedule for removing nuclear weapons, along with its expanded provisions prohibiting the manufacture of any war materiel, made illegal throughout the rest of the world, and the 4N boycott was born to isolate them until they complied. the remaining nations with nuclear weapons had to accept on site inspectors immediately or face the boycott as well.
President Obama was having to deal with a US economy no longer hamstrung by high wages, thanks to the deep dollar devaluation, but now the country was in danger of succumbing to another wave of anti-American sentiment around the world that threatened to return the US and its “allies” to world pariahs caught in a ruinous world trade boycott.
It was a revisitation that disgusted him, along with many decent Americans, and its growing menace was the main reason he had been afforded another term. Three generations of Americans had grown fat, uneducated and profligate in the decades following WWII, with a belligerent sense of undeserved entitlement that had come crashing down to everyone’s horror in 2010. That had largely been set right within one hard decade.
But once again, the President would have to face his own citizenry and convince them to embrace the new world order…