The Century Is Beginning Badly

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There
is much nonsense being bruited about by the media, by scientists,
by intellectuals in general, and by politicians. Ideas that cry
out to be refuted are being peddled, the notions that the world
will soon run out of natural resources, that man can control the
climate, that population not under government control represents
a threat, that central banks which were set up to cater to bankers
and politicians exist to serve the people, that bombing can remove
evil from the world, that providing entitlements will build strong
and independent individuals, and on and on, so much so that it seems
a shame to waste time fretting about our recently completed election.
Yet it too merits comment.

A
British newspaper states that "America seems to have become
even more ambitious in its imperialist adventures as it becomes
less secure."

Gabriel
Kolko, in his book, Another
Century of War?
takes a candid and critical look at America’s
“new wars.” He suggests that our views of modern warfare have been
redefined and this will inevitably lead to a dark future. He concludes
that the roots of terrorism lie in "America’s own cynical policies
in the Middle East and Afghanistan," where a half-century of
justifying crusades for oil and against Communism was foolish and
a waste of time. Oil is worthless to its owners unless they can
sell it somewhere, so this crusade, if it existed, was only to decide
who would get any profit. Defeating Communism didn't need a crusade;
it doomed itself.

Kolko
contends that "America reacts to the complexity of world affairs
with advanced technology and superior firepower, not with realistic
political response and negotiation." He believes that this
will offer little if any hope of attaining greater security for
ourselves and expects that if we do not change our ways our future
wars will only drag on, and we will have more of them. In his book
one finds "a mastery of military and political issues rare
among historians, combined with a humane and elemental acknowledgement
of the devastation of war and the hubris, [perhaps we should say
megalomania,] of national leaders who believe they can control it
for their own purposes."

Common
sense leads to nearly complete agreement with Kolko. The U S is
enormously strong in huge weaponry, which is useful only against
enemies with the same sort of weaponry. It is generally ineffective
against small and defenseless foes, who will undoubtedly remain
spiritually strong no matter how often they are clobbered by a power
they see as a bully.

The
fact that Republicans made a clean sweep of both deliberative bodies
as well as the administration does not bode well. Their win might
be of little account if it weren't for the risks we run as Bush
and his minions convince themselves that they possess superior wisdom
and are the only good people on earth. They need to be shown that
they did not win the election, that the Democrats threw it away,
that voters really did feel they were choosing the lesser of two
evils. Acton's aphorism regarding power and its tendency to corrupt
applies in every way to these less than brilliant, less than honest,
political leaders.

The
1900's were called America's century; and it was a murderous one.
Now that nuclear weapons are easy to make, this century is shaping
up to be worse. Let us pray that this does not happen, that our
leaders learn a little humility, that we learn that others must
be persuaded, not forced, that direct democracy is not a panacea,
and credit needs to be shared.

November
22, 2004

George
Crispin [send him mail]
is a retired businessman who heads a Catholic homeschooling cooperative
in Auburn, Alabama.

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