The Century Is Beginning Badly

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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