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07 Sept 2008

Neocon George Bush, the great divider has done it up brown. A unipolar, but relatively safe, world is disintegrating into a multipolar world that feels less safe all around. That is not all bad for sure. But once upon a time, the world knew and trusted Uncle Sam more than any other nation on earth. Those days are gone, perhaps forever. World leadership is now up for grabs. And some grab it is. Mostly that came about because of Iraq--a shameless, needless, petulant, and totally unnecessary grab for hegemony over a reluctant Middle East.

Other evidence has been accumulating as well. To be sure, only a multipolar world can possibly be democratic in the usual sense of the word. The transition period has now begun. How it plays out is fraught with considerable danger--since the first step was so adversarial.

The remarkable ascent of China, and to a lesser extent India and certain other third-world nations, are peacefully, if slowly, moving toward global economic parity--and multipolarity. Some find things to criticize about the Olympics; our take is that Beijing was quite a coming-out party for the new kid on the block. Communism is dead. The world is in a new era politically. The coming decades will see changes that we cannot now easily conceive. Current trends point to a new world order where nationalism is less extreme, and the nations find ways to join hands in a world government of societal equality. But there is dire danger however. Can we tame our animals within until that happens, for example?

This trend toward a mulipolar world, this period of transition, could well fuel new strife around the world in forms ranging from trade disputes to war and genocide. While this has been going on for awhile, the United States put its head in the sand and squandered its influence, depleted its treasury, alienated allies, gave new life to terrorism as a method operandi. In short, the US is now mistrusted more than ever before. So much so, that many nations would welcome China and Europe as new poles in a new world alignment.

All of this came about over the last eight years. We became hawks, but without the sharp eyes of hawks. Our beaks and talons still chill with their precision, but it is their tunnel vision of target that is worrisome. Beaks and talons can never prevail in wars of ideas. It is time for temporizing, not continuing disastrous policies. And this means dialogue with both friends and enemies.

It is time to reassess who we are, who we want to be, what to change and how to go about it. Changes needed are all still dim on the horizon, for we do not look ahead. We live each day trying to win.

We are already too late to reverse runaway global warming. If we allow our politics to do likewise, the ultimate history of the 21st Century will be bleak indeed for America, and maybe the world. Our blindness to the reality of climate change is a harbinger of our blindness of ourselves. We as a great nation by historic standards, risk everything by not wising up to the danger inherent in our individual and collective psyches. For more on that, see Frank, Bush on the Couch for what narcissism can do, Stout, for how the Sociopath leaves havoc in his/her wake, and Hare for the Psychopath who ruins lives, including their own. Something like 2-3% of all of us have no conscience, the hallmark of the NPS personality types listed. That would not be so bad except that most of us are Authoritarian Personalities who need conventionalism (structure) and hierarchy to feel comfortable. It is the NPS folks who co-opt movements, organizations, even nations, in their quests for dominance. Their most basic expression is to win. Because of our need to belong, we authoritarians buy in without thinking.

America needs to become a more thoughtful, wise, and incisive superpower. The new times have been evident since before Bush. But he indirectly brought about a dramatic change in how we fight wars. America has one general of uncommon aptitude in understanding people. He rewrote the playbook on his own hook, with the help of both civilian and military advisers. We thank general Petraeus for his creativity, and for being a statesmanlike warrior. This is a harbinger of a trend. We can thank the American voters in 2006 for helping the trend by putting a stop to the worst of it. Hopefully we can thank the new breed of politicians who have a sharp Petraeus eye for political changes that are needed. Some of those changes too have already begun. In all cases these things all happened in spite of Mr. Bush, not because of him.

Gone are the siege-until-destroyed-tactics of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. Gone are the easy days calling plays from a play book. We can only make progress against insurgencies in partnership with the citizens involved. Tunnel vision targeting gave way to cooperation with the citizenry to ferret out al Qa'ida and other insurgents. In large measure, al Qa'ida provided the final impetus. They slaughtered so many Sunnis, that the Sunni leaders decided to join forces with the Americans in early 2008. It may turn out yet that The Surge was primarily a political stunt to capitalize on a trend already in the making. However it came about, Iraq is at last moving forward toward accommodating to its internal rivalries. Its government is still very fragile politically. But it now has a chance we did not foresee a year ago. We thought bin Laden was smarter than he turned out to be.

America is still the economic giant, able to support a vast military arsenal that can and should be used with wisdom, not as a tool of vengeance or empire. It is in the political arena that we are still in danger, great danger. Wrong headed for eight years, we now have some opportunity to begin changing a few things. That process in fact has already begun as a backlash.

Gone are the days when special interests called all the political shots for both parties in America. Gone too are the taboos against women and blacks in politics. America is not home yet. Like Iraq, our gains are still fragile indeed. A mere mishap, or worse, could reverse these gains in a flash. The Vietnam era left one legacy, black empowerment. Is it possible the Iraq era will become known for doing likewise for minorities and women in politics? There are more things to change.

These include an educational system that ignores the human psyche, even in many many graduate schools. Our society is inculcated in the worth of Blind Obedience. Our national anthem that extols war. Early on that was appropriate--but is it now?. What about an anthem that inspires virtue instead of thunder? Maybe the time is not yet ripe, for it is still a jungle out there. But just in our lifetimes, more than half of the world became relatively democratic in governance, and in those regions, serious conflicts are fewer.

At their most basic roots, our problems include our heritage, our instincts molded by the jungles, savannas, icy wildernesses, turbulent seas. Survival came for many who had no conscience, no super ego, no empathy. When the traits just mentioned are extreme and part and parcel of an individual, or of a society, trouble brews for the rest of us. Such people are commonly labeled as Sociopathic, Psychopathic, and/or Narcissistic Personalities. What they do is co-opt others by any available means including propaganda, intimidation, coercion, bribery, and yes, even charisma.

Today, these people co-opt families, movements, businesses, nations, and the monotheism. All peoples are expected to be obedient to their whims, their propaganda, wars. Being good Authoritarian Personalities, most of the rest of us buy into their madness--in all innocence for the most part. This is why educational philosophy must include the issues of why people are violent, and what they individually can do about that condition. These topics must stand right up there with reading, writing and arithmetic in importance. For a more complete rendition, see an overview of some curriculum items on pages beginning with:



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