Monday, August 29, 2005
Your letter to the WSJ and your comments on Meet the Press are both right on the money. I think your stance hews very closely to the line that I believe all of us Democrats can take:
1) We would not have invaded Iraq in the way they have done.
2) We would not have occupied Iraq in the way they have done.
3) When we take back the reins of power in 2009, we will move promptly to withdraw any remaining occupation troops; and
4) In the meantime, we support the efforts of our troops.
In this way, we can impose an effective deadline on the occupation, of the only kind the Bushites can respect: Election Day, November, 2008. If they can withdraw safely before then, Iraq will not be such a big issue in 2008, and that is the best the Republicans can hope for. More than they deserve.
What more can we say or do? They don't listen, anyway...
Thursday, August 25, 2005
by John Kay and Steppenwolf (1971?)
Once the religious, the hunted and weary
Chasing the promise of freedom and hope
Came to this country to build a new vision
Far from the reaches of kingdom and Pope.
Like good Christians some would burn the witches
Later some bought slaves to gather riches
But still from near and far to seek America
They came by thousands to court the wild
But she just patiently smiled and bore them a child
To be the spirit and guiding light .
(Bridge) The Blue and Grey the stomped it, they kicked it just like a dog
And when the war was over, they stuffed it just like a hog.
Though the past has its share of injustice
Kind was the spirit in many a way
But its protectors and friends have been sleeping
Now it's a monster and will not obey.
The spirit was freedom and justice and its keepers seemed generous and kind
Its leaders were supposed to serve the country but now they don't pay no mind
'Cause the people got fat and grew lazy; now their vote is a meaningless joke
They babble about law and order, but it's Oh! just an echo of what they've been told.
(Refrain) There's a monster on the loose
It's got our heads into the noose
And it just sits there watching
Cities have turned into jungles and corruption is strangling the land
The police force is watching the people and the people just can't understand
We don't know how to mind our business because the whole world's got to be just like us
Now we are fighting a war over there; no matter who's the winner, we can't pay the cost!
American where are you now? Don't you care about your sons and daughters?
Don't you know we need you now? We can't fight alone against the monster.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Aug-12 5:55 am
(43 of 231)
5185.43 in reply to 5185.40
Rove operates in that gray area which may not be provably illegal, but is clearly unethical and self-serving. This is the same landscape which much of our current administration seems to favor.
Gone are the days of low corruption and simple answers. Wilson is a self promoter. Plame is a player. Rove is a political thug and hatchet man. Yet we cannot throw them all in a pit and throw on gasoline- but each is unworthy of high honors in serving the American people.
As more facts are uncovered we are exposed to the low level of honor and ethics in governmnt and politics. The debate seems to center on if this low level crosses the line to illegal. Few comment on the overall state of the environment.
Such ubiquitous low level corruption is not new, but it is cyclical. We can seek to control it, to improve the standards.
But when we do so we should remember that Plame and Wilson are middle class people, pushed around by the paid operatives of the rich, the corporate, the poor, and foreign influence: those everpresent enemies of the American vision of a free middle class. We can perhaps forgive Plame and Wilson their minor transgressions- but Rove should be held to a higher standard as representing the office of the President.
Aug-12 12:15 pm
(59 of 231)
5185.59 in reply to 5185.43
I agree 100% with your posting. The important point is not whether Rove continues on in the Administration, but the condemnation of Rovian behavior as unacceptable. Otherwise, it will become the norm, and it is already too close to being so.
Too many quality people are scared off from public service by seeing how the low behaviors are rewarded, and how those who dare to challenge the system face career destruction and even physical danger--as we have seen too often in our lifetimes.
....But Kern and I got into it a bit on another topic, America's Future.
By the way, apologies to Ms. Plame for referring to her as "Flame" elsewhere, when the topic was not quite as hot.
The Democrats had a very strong candidate: let's hope that's a trend.
One thing that is definitely a continuing trend: Democrats taking consolation from a losing election.
I am at least encouraged that, voting irregularities notwithstanding, the Democrats may have a good shot at putting Ohio into their column in 2008. And history shows that is a very bad indicator for the Republicans.Finally, and most importantly, I think it supports, but doesn't prove, the validity of Howard Dean's plan to contest the Republicans everywhere. With strong candidates and political positions that can convince someone other than the loyalist base, it's time to put the Republicans on the defensive for a change
Monday, August 22, 2005
This is one of my favorite topics ever on this Forum. I'm going to break it up a bit, as I've had a little trouble saving the whole thing at once.
My initial answer, before getting caught up in the back-and-forth:
For the short-term (10-20 years), America's position seems OK on most of those, especially innovation, culture, and economic. Geopolitical leadership won't be an issue over that time period (if we don't screw up the military too much with wars such as Iraq), either, though I see very little content in our leadership or vision for the future.
The bad news is education, the public version of which is poor and getting worse. The anti-intellectual nature of American society has filtered down into fear of learning in our schools. It's dangerous to be a standout student in most schools. This is going to have a serious negative effect in the long run.
In terms of long-term geopolitical leadership, the one thing America can not afford to do is to have the world united against it. That would be the long-term effect of Bushite logic in its military, diplomatic, and environmental policies. We might have 50 years or so left as a superpower if we don't wake up to the needs of the global community of the future. So it's in our interest to think of something beyond ourselves. Can we do it? So far I see little evidence that we can.
From mhr5: ...
Utopians, who actually expect that human beings and their institutions can reach a state of absolute perfection, are doomed to disappointment. And whatever else it was Bolshevism was utopian in every sense- and a monstrous failure. The men who directed it had as their goal the creation of a world of social justice and human equality. I am still deeply suspicious of politicians who talk in that vein
Have you got a better goal to suggest? History will not be kind to the Americans of this crucial period, if our legacy is the squandering of the fossil fuels, degrading of our environment, colossal consumption, and a permanent clash of civilizations.I agree that the Bolsheviks basically had it all wrong from the start. Unlike them (and the Bushites), we need to apply means consistent with our objectives.
In the future this will be regarded as the era of squandered opportunities.
A time when corporate interests consolidated their control over the U.S. government.
A new age of corporate robber barons, facilitated by the G.O.P. maladministration and the craven G.O.P. Congress. Together they take the corruption of the federal government by corporate opportunists to new levels.
A time when the president turned his back on science and followed the world's richest oil company advice to torpedo international efforts to rein in greenhouse gasses.
lornejn suggested that "material progress" needed to be a goal for America (as opposed to "social justice and equality") which provoked the following from me:
5178.258 in reply to 5178.241
I would simply say that social justice and equality of opportunity in the world would be a very material form of progress, then add the following:
Any thinking person should recognize that there is nothing more significant in this world (at least to us humans) than the continuing experiment of human civilization. The American Republic has been (was?) a very important innovation in our civilization and advanced many ideals, including liberty of expression, opposition to slavery, and opposition to tyranny. It had an unusual opportunity in the period after World War II, and especially since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, to provide leadership to the whole world on a scale and with potential positive influence that is unparalleled in human history.
Instead, we have become obsessed with our "material progress", much of it borne upon the labors and intimidation of other peoples. We spend and consume blindly without thought of the future, and we fool ourselves about the reasons for our imperialistic endeavors. We allow our federal government and our military, which combine to form the strongest power in the world, to endanger our own commitments to liberty. We spout hypocrisy about the religious underpinnings of our greed and selfishness, and we actively degrade our biological environment.
Quite simply, we need to take ownership of the opportunity that we have been granted, through accident or design, and start thinking about what human civilization might become, how we can start to make it happen, and what kind of people we must become in order for us to fulfill our enormous potential as a race. Then, we need to show some leadership--not imposing our will, but leadership through example, and through reasoned argument. I am optimistic enough to believe that this could be America's future, but realistic enough to know we are not going that way yet. At all.
Edited 8/12/2005 1:30 am ET by chinshihtang
To be fair, I was twisting words a bit--for which he got me:
Aug-12 12:08 pm
(279 of 434)
5178.279 in reply to 5178.258
First, you have added a couple of words that completely change the concept from what the original poster that I was responding to had said.He said the goal should be equality (implying equality of outcomes), which is quite different from equality of opportunity. I am much more supportive of equality of opportunity. I do doubt that this can ever be completetly attained, but there are measures that would move us closer to this objective.
Second, you refer to "in the world" where this discussion is about the future of America.
Third, you are using a different meaning for the word material. In your context material means significant, while in mine material means having more things, inventions and systems that make life easier, healthier, longer and more productive. If you look back you will see that I was not saying that social justice and equality were not worthy objectives, but was saying that surely we have material objectives to improve our lives as well. We live better because of the advances of the last 100 years and can surely achieve further progress in the next 100.
Aug-12 12:23 pm
(280 of 434)
5178.280 in reply to 5178.279
OK, you're right: I twisted your point to my ends a bit.
But I do have two counterpoints to emphasize: 1) The future of America is central to the future of mankind; both are of great consequence, but the latter particularly so. I would deny the possibility for America alone to succeed in the world for long.
2) I think the material progress, the technological progress, and the scientific progress are all unstoppable (barring a total collapse of society). The challenge is on the social side, which moves much more slowly: can we make ourselves worthy of our scientific, technical, and material capabilities? All this power--to what end?
Then kern and I got into it on the topic of globalism. His serve:
There is a globalist chain of thought that nations are obsolete. Government should become world government, sovereignty is obsolete, rule by the people and local self determination are obsolete in this nexus of thought. Recent signs of this thinking include the large number of fragments of international law in CAFTA, and the Supreme Court ducking the question of the validity of international law within our constitutional system. This thinking is advanced often by self-serving foreign interests, and guilty Americans who wish to give away our hard earned advantages. If globalist thinking continues in America obviously we will not lead in geopolitics.
Concerning education and economy, we cannot lead in either unless there is economic reward for the educated. When highly trained technologists are shoved aside for cheap foreign technological labor the incentive to take all thos darned hard math and science courses ends. English language education is crucial to the quality and depth of our education. We must eliminate the guilty need to sacrafice the education of American children for foreign speaking offspring of those who are mainly here illegaly anyway. Then we must again reward eloquence and depth of thought in the english language. We also cannot lead without a stronger manufacturing base- including the trades and skills of the working folks who manufacture. Until we return to the American ideal of a self-sufficient America we are doomed to economic decline. Back to basics.
As for culture: we suffer from excess multiculturalism. We also suffer from a backlash to multiculturalism which promotes teleevangelism as truth and seeks to supress science, free thought, and free speech. It is said that America is an open society, but no one wanted it this open-something must give. We can no longer find our own culture in the omnipresent noise. Until TV and radio and books and magazines return to sharing American culture and values and innovation and thought with the masses our society is doomed to view other cultures as dominant.
The challenge of your generation, intern, is to recover American sovereignty of law, thought, culture and technology against a vast rush of nonamerican influence. Cultural, economic and educational superiority does not occur by focusing on everyone else's thought, education and culture in everyone else's language based on their political dictums.America, as allways, is dependent on young Americans for continued freedom and success.
My riposte--just what he wanted:
5178.278 in reply to 5178.259
There is no such thing as "self-sufficient America". There really never has been, and it's certainly too late to create it now. To give one economic example, energy self-sufficiency is a nice idea, but we're a long way from there and going in the opposite direction.
There is such a thing as an emerging global culture, and we have an enormous role to play in it.
When we tried to close the doors to trade, we got the Great Depression. In more recent times, when we've failed to exercise sufficient vigilance in difficult times, we've gotten Pearl Harbor and 9/11. We can not escape the rest of the world, and there are many problems we all share that can only be addressed together. The challenge of this era is coming to grips with that fact, and beginning to think about how we can address it.
I would not say that nation-states and national sovereignty are obsolete, they are simply insufficient to the challenges of the age. We will still need local, state, national, and regional governance; we need to preserve individual self-determination, too; we just need something more.
5178.290 in reply to 5178.278
""There is no such thing as "self-sufficient America". ""
Well now, we shall see. Sovereignty and the right to manufacture here were significant factors in the early days of America, and there are certain parallels to today's economic maladies.
I find most strong proponents of globalism have an agenda. There is one guy who wrote a five part rave about everything from Hegel to Taoism to justify stealing US intellectual property and maintaining unfair trade practices- as a mouthpiece for China.
Self sufficiency has been a hallmark American value throughout our young history. Such notions do not die easily. Regardless of tiny imperfections the gross trend may have already begun. The pendulum is large and heavy, and historicaly has been enforced with much fierce support in the present direction. We shall just have to wait to see how wrong you may be.
5178.393 in reply to 5178.290
I recognize that I may be totally wrong about America's future, because I espouse unpopular views. Therefore, the objectives that I advocate may frequently and even consistently be voted down.
However, I think that you mistake the micro-level self-sufficiency of the American archetypes--the small farmer, the pioneer, the prospector, the entrepreneur, etc.--which surely have been important in American history, with the macro-level fact that America has always been a trading nation (when it's been successful), one that draws strength from immigrants from all over, one that has been repeatedly forced to face the reality of involvement in the messy affairs of the rest of the world. I don't doubt that a populist "Fortress America" stance can still draw support, even on a national level, but I am certain that it cannot succeed for long.
Your post also commented on how "people who advocate globalism always seem to have an agenda" (paraphrasing from memory here). I don't know about that, and I'd suggest that those who don't advocate it have an agenda, too, but I think I'll bare my own agenda. My agenda is always to convince Americans to face up to the realities and to own up to the responsibility our country has to provide positive leadership at the global level.
This might seem an awful lot like the neo-cons, but for two differences: 1) The means to the end is supremely important, as we have seen with Iraq. The Iraqis truly want democracy, or at least self-governance, there is no doubt of that in my mind, but they don't want that imposed at the point of a gun. That, and a pretty strong supposition that we are hypocritical in terms of our true desires for the country, is why we are universally resented there. If we are to move toward a global system of governing the issues that are irrefutably global, it matters enormously how we get there. Putting some turkey like Bolton in the UN to browbeat the nations of the world into cooperating is another good example of how not to do it. 2) There is a difference between owning up to our responsibility and a sense of entitlement. Let me make a personal argument. Since my childhood, I have looked around and seen that I am a fortunate son of the most powerful, rich nation in history. I often asked myself the question, Why? as though there had to be some meaning to that incredibly blessed position that I find myself in. The answer that I come up with is always more or less the same. I must argue for us to do the right thing as a people. I know that the outcome is not certain--the political setbacks are frequent (though there have also been magnificent advances, too).I don't want to ascribe motivations to anyone else; others have to answer for themselves. It appears to me, though, that the neocon viewpoint is to try and take the wonderful advantages and power that we have and exploit them for selfish purposes. Further, to do it from a point of view that assumes the superiority of our lifestyle, culture, and religion in every way.
Edited 8/14/2005 12:43 pm ET by chinshihtang
I may be totally wrong, but I'm a dancing fool. (Frank Zappa, Sheik Yerbuti)
Sir, I find your globalism troubeling.
First, the government os the USA has a responsibility to the people of the USA- not to foreign powers or peoples. This is clear in the Declaration, the Constitution and even in the oaths of office. There is NO EXCUSE for our government to use taxpayer funds to advance the agendas of foreign peoples at the expense of Americans.
Second, if we have leaderrship to offer today it is in our notion of self sufficiency. Each country must, for the most part, find a means to become a thriving and stable endeavor. The successful nations of the world cannot sustain those without successful models except in times of unusual disaster.
Third, the realities we face are that America must fend for America. No one else will aid us, but for a few proven allies in times of unusual need. We can only afford international charity our of any surplus we might generate. Our first goal is a strong and thriving America unthreatened by unnneccasary or excessive foreign dependency.
Simply: if we must depend on others- so be it. Then we must manage the national security consequences of that dependency. Our security is not simply threat of war, but threat of terror and of bein held economic hostage to foreign dictums. Today the national security of average Americans is under economic threat by globalist antiamerican forces.
Globalism and the notion that we should buy things elsewhere in preference to US goods and services- simply because it is good for the "global economy" (read as good for someone else's economy)- is now clearly past. The subsidies to multinational corporations that have created record corporate profits but have harmed Americans are now widely exposed and unpopular.In short: your globalism seems to be bunk.
5178.431 in reply to 5178.396
OK, I got your point (over and over): I'll start with the crude response to your summary and say that your fancy rationalizations for selfishness and isolationism are bunk. The American people deserve credit for more than that. Notions of autarchy are absurd today, neither practical nor attainable.
I agree with you to the extent that your argument is that America's federal government, which is mainly concerned with America's federal government, is not up to the task of addressing the world's problems and will not be anytime soon. Perhaps, as you suggest, it never would or should be. That just means that we, the people, have to find other ways, rather than sticking our heads into the sand. It's important (and, these days, easy) to separate consideration of the American people, and their interests, from the interests of the American federal government.
That was a bit too easy to refute, I admit. At least I didn't say his spelling was "bunk".
The American people are quite generous, not selfish at all. We host the UN, for example. The UN is the source of the globalist world government you and John Lennon desire. The failures of the UN are failures of the globalist agenda.
""Notions of autarchy are absurd today, neither practical nor attainable. ""
Since when is national sovereignty equivalent to autarchy? Furthermore, I am not isolationist. I do believe global trade should occur- just not at the expense of the American middle class via unfair subsidies- nor at the expense of our national security.
""I agree with you to the extent that your argument is that America's federal government, which is mainly concerned with America's federal government, is not up to the task of addressing the world's problems and will not be anytime soon. Perhaps, as you suggest, it never would or should be. ""
I am glad you agree. National governments support nations. Our government is not empowered by the constitution, nor by the people, to hand power over to a "world government" in theory or in practice. Democratic national governments serve the people, and are responsible to them. If not corrupt they form laws that reflect the will of the people, not the will of some global uberclass of multinational corporate managers with foreign driven agendas.
> > > -----Original Message-----
> > > From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> > > Sent: Monday, August 15, 2005 4:13 PM
> > > To: email@example.com
> > > Subject: Recent postings on America's Future
> > >
> > > The following message was sent to you by CHINSHIHTANG while viewing
> > > your Member Profile:
> > >
> > > I'd like to lift some of the dialogue and put in my blog:
> > > chinshihtang.blogspot.com. I'll include what would have been my response to
> > > your last posting (before they shut the topic down).
> > >
> > > I hope you don't mind.
(abridged discussion of permission to reprint)
> On 8/16/05, mkern
> > So what was the reply you added after the forum closed?
> -----Original Message-----
> From: chin_shih_tang stoner [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2005 1:45 PM
> To: email@example.com
> Subject: Re: Recent postings on America's Future
I haven't written it yet. You're pretty much right with your
reference to John Lennon, though I wouldn't consider it as something
The point is, when it comes to the future, we can think about
something beyond that which exists already, and start to make it
happen. I find that there is real absence of vision in American
political discussion, and that basically goes for both parties. I
think that the future, and vision for it, may actually become
important in the 2008 election.
Here's a couple of points I'd include in the response (I'm going to
take my time):
1) About subsidies--I would assume that you are referring to the
deductions companies can take today for the cost of essentially
transferring jobs overseas (one of Kerry's favorite points until he
got the nomination). I'd just put that into the category of "mindless
subsidies", of which we have a lot. Many of them are designed to
protect nonstrategic American industries from foreign competition, so
it works both ways.
2) About the UN: You and I would probably both agree that it is
basically a failed organization. The difference is, I would replace
it--or part of it--with something very different, not based on or
limited to the selfish interests of national governments. I recognize
that, in the case of America, some sort of constitutional amendment
would be required which would specifically authorize an organization,
which I would look to be one representing the free peoples of the
world to act on certain global issues.
The UN was something that was created at a particular time, 60 years
ago, that hasn't really been updated. It was appropriate for
post-WWII, and served our interests at that time. Today, it's out of
date, and doesn't even serve our interests very well, though that
isn't the most important part of the "global test". Putting a turkey
like Bolton in there isn't going to help things, though.
3) America--selfish or generous? I think individual Americans have
plenty of generous impulses. I think our collective
actions--especially those of our government, and particularly this
Administration-- are pretty selfish and self-absorbed. We have a low
level of awareness of issues beyond our shores, given our undoubted
On 8/16/05, mkern
--I don't really think of the reference to JL as negative, just perhaps
idealistic and visionary. We need visions to drive toward, but
implementation is dirty, hard work. Sometimes implementation ugliness
outweighs visionary beauty- as in communism.
--There are many subsidies, hidden and explicit. For example the free
inspection services for imported goods are a subsidy. Doing that right
might cost billions, and is a cost that should be born by the shipper. Then
there is the recent energy bill pork. Add the transportation bill pork.
Then add services to corporations provided by Federal funds which come
mainly from the middle class (%70+) taxes.
--The UN needs reform alright. I say any lawmaking body must have elected
officials and not appointed cronies. If there must be international law, it
should be overseen by the UN or equiv. and officials should be ELECTED.
Furthermore, as a federated government, the scope of power of the UN should
be strictly and clearly limited.
--Selfish Amerca? Heck no. We work to better everyone- far too much in
times like theese when we need to focus on internal reform. We are
suffering from massive, low grade, internal corruption. I, at least, would
say that when Congress repeatedly screams that reform is required on
political donations and the majority of Americans disagree with each new
bill that that is low grade corruption. Government cannot be a charity
organization- corruption results. We are drownding in wasteful government
based on subsidies to the rich, the poor, the corporate and the foreign.
What we do need is a massive new branch of service, or massive expansion of
the peace corps, and mandatory service for each American. This could
perform those functions which are not charity but are required to maintain
the nation's infrastructure and clean up our worldwide messes. DoD is meant
to destroy enemies, not build civilizations. The mix and match service
advocated by McCain is a bad idea, however- one service per enlistment
In short: funneling charity funds through government is limited by
government ineffectiveness as a charity, via politics, not by taxes... so
other organizations should (and do) act as more effective charities.
Government charity should be limited to government surpluss, for example--it
makes little sense to tax and harm Americans to help Nigerians or whatever.
Have you seen Detroit? Limited improvement of government altruism is
possible, within narrow boundries, if clearly purposed. We need efficient,
effective government, measured by return on taxation- and efficient
charities by common measures in use today. Governance is the issue.
Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2005 10:59 PM
Subject: Re: Recent postings on America's Future
You make several good points. Certainly Americans can display great
generosity, as with the tsunami relief. I think the goodwill is
there, but there's no focus to our effort.
The most disappointing thing is the lack of interest in domestic
reform. Frankly, I don't see much happening to get the corruption out
of elections. Without that, the policies are going to remain a
Some kind of national service requirement has always made sense, but
again I see little sponsorship or public interest.
I wonder what kind of thing is needed to stir the sleeping giant--the
American public--into action?
You said: You make several good points. Certainly Americans can display
great generosity, as with the tsunami relief. I think the goodwill is
there, but there's no focus to our effort.
Forced charity is not charity. Centralized institutionalized charity would
be focused, but would not represent more than an opportunity for corruption
with vast sums of captive money- and a marketing campaign for America
masquerading as a charity.
One other thread I enjoyed was someone who did bring in the Roman Empire to the discussion--and Ozymandias, too--much needed, should've thought of that myself.
5178.192 in reply to 5178.190
Roman History is one of my passions. There are so many parallels and lessons from that era. What is especially relevant, and disturbing, is reading of the gradual evolution from Republic to Empire, a process that we are well on our way in paralleling, keeping the forms, but not the functions of a free Republic.
As Rome was the last "Super Power" of the Ancient World, The United States will be the last Super Power of the "modern" World.
However it will end for us, however far in the future it will be; the world will be vastly different because of us. We still have the power to shape our course, and finish the story of America differently than current trends suggest, but this now seems to be the crossroads. We go in one direction or the other, and once on that path, we cannot easily turn back.
I fear we will be just another great "experiment" that succumbed to the siren song of Power rather than Principle. We have already strayed far beyond the ideals that, like early Rome, assumed that we would be content leave and be left alone, content to lead by the example of our institutions, not the power of our armies.
I met a traveler from an antique land,Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stoneStand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:And on the pedestal these words appear:"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"Nothing beside remains. Round the decayOf that colossal wreck, boundless and bareThe lone and level sands stretch far away.
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 1792-1822
Edited 8/10/2005 12:08 pm ET by pmarvel1
So I had to put my due centavi in:
5178.197 in reply to 5178.192
Excellent posting. The example of Rome shows that a great Empire, like that one or like ours, can survive even extremely bad emperors once in a while (like Caligula, or Dubya). And the Romans did pretty well with their Emperors, a good 500 years before their definitive downfall, so perhaps we can survive the militarization of our Republic as well, at least for a while.
Again from the Roman example, the two things that our status can not survive are the united opposition of the rest of the world and rot from within.
We need to think about what kind of world we would like to be our legacy, what kind of institutions would be required, what kind of global policies, and what kind of people we will need to make them happen.
5178.200 in reply to 5178.197
Yes, but the real lesson to be avoided is how a Republic turned into an Empire with those "extremely bad emperors". Actually, there were some very good emperors that helped balance the bad ones, which is probably why the Roman Empire lasted as long as it did -- not because of the government so much as the nature of the institutions established long before the Empire that kept it running as efficiently as it did, regardless who the "Chief Executive" was. But the bottom line is, they were still emperors, and not elected Presidents/Consuls, no matter how good or bad they were.
And--finally--my last words for that subject (at this time):
5178.201 in reply to 5178.200
I think we're pretty far down the road already in our evolution to an Empire--as you say, the forms (like the Senate) continued on in Rome. Can we turn back the hands of time? I think it more productive to think of the future, and what we can give to the global civilization which is forming.
I would remind everyone of how long it took Western civilization to recover from the fall of Rome to the Renaissance (roughly 1000 years). It is true that the nuclear weapons present the possibility of much greater and swifter devastation than in the past.
Ultimately, I think planet Earth can take whatever we dish out, over a scale of millions of years. Should make for interesting paleontology, our era, assuming there's anyone to dig us up.
Friday, August 19, 2005
I do want to make a comment about the nuclear weapons issue. The policy of nonproliferation worked very well for 30-40 years, but the cat is now well and truly out of the bag. There are now more holes in the dyck than we have fingers to plug them with. The evidence is all too apparent that having nukes--or at least giving a convincing impression of having them--gets you in a club which has some added security and gets you an added level of respect. In terms of the science and engineering required, it's not a serious obstacle for a nation that wants them. There's also big money and influence in spreading the information around, as Pakistan did.
The U.S. does not have very clean hands on this issue, either. Of course, we started the whole thing in the first place, but in more recent years we have plenty of harmful behavior at our own feet. Apart from the hypocrisy of the "No, you can not have them, but we will keep ours" argument, our willingness to continue to develop new weapons, unilaterally end our test-ban restraints, and blur the borderline with our depleted uranium weapons and tactical devices should give us reason to question our own moral high ground on this one.
We (all of us, the red states, the blue states, the swing states, and the ROTW states) have to rethink from fundamental principles how we can assure a modicum of safety and hope for the future in a world of readily accessible nuclear weapons. Our bully-boy tactics have seen their limits; our bluff has been called. By India, Pakistan, Iran, and North Korea, so far, recently. There are probably 50 other countries that will have them by 2050 unless humanity comes up with a more convincing rationale not to go nuclear.
Then I got into a weird debate with a guy--normally a progressive--who insisted that the proliferation of nukes was a reason to cheer, because of the advancement of those societies that the weapons constitute. Wha?
(from Politics Talk, Washington Post)