Jobs -- the word used most often by politicians running for office in 2012. Regardless of party, whether challenger or incumbent, every office seeker tells us he or she has a way of "creating," "protecting," "saving" or "improving" jobs for American workers. What few of our elected officials ever mention is how vulnerable these "well-paying" and "secure" jobs are to factors far more threatening than the European debt crisis. Here are the top three issues that should concern those who purport to care about our economic well-being in the year ahead:
1) An Iranian nuke. Just before Christmas, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told us Iran could have a workable nuclear weapon in 2012. He also knows -- but didn't say -- that the theocrats in Tehran already have the means of delivering it. Tel Aviv, Israel, is target No. 1. American civilians are No. 2 on the ayatollahs' hit parade. To Israelis, the expression "Never Again" isn't a political slogan. It's a way of life. They are not going to wait to be incinerated.
The Obama administration could stop the Iranians from building atomic weapons and perhaps even bring about regime change by forbidding any company doing any business in Iran from doing any business in the U.S. But unless the O-Team takes such a step, the Israelis will have to act pre-emptively to prevent annihilation. If you think the "2008-11 global recession" hurt, you don't want to contemplate what the world economy would be like after an attack on Iran's nuclear weapons sites.
2) The jihad. The "Arab Spring" -- once so proudly proclaimed to have been instigated by Obama's soaring rhetoric -- has become a nightmare for democratic aspirations in the Middle East. Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Moammar Gadhafi and Anwar al-Awlaki are dead, but the jihad being waged by radical Islamists is stronger than ever. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Sudan are headed for Shariah rather than secular governance in 2012. Yemen, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan, Nigeria and even Saudi Arabia could follow suit soon. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom forecasts that Christianity could be eradicated in these countries. The economic impact of such an upheaval is potentially catastrophic.
3) The collapse of Russian democracy. Vladimir Putin is presiding over a dying country -- and he knows it. Though Russian energy exports to Europe and China currently fill the coffers of Moscow's kleptocracy and help rebuild Soviet-era nuclear weapons, the future for the land of the czars is bleak. Russia's population -- now 141.7 million -- drops by nearly 1 million per year. With an average male life span of just 59 years, look for 2012 to be the year Putin and his cronies do all they can to line their pockets -- at our expense.
Note to all running for office in 2012: The word "entitlement" does not appear in the Constitution. The words "provide for the common defence" do. Happy new year.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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