Making the Case From a Different Place
Friday 29 April 2011
A trio of ongoing and savagely expensive wars. A catastrophically expensive health care "system." A national infrastructure collapsing into rack and ruin even as millions go without jobs. Hundreds of tornadoes tearing the country apart from
And what are we talking about?
Welcome, my friends, to the show that never ends.
If you've spent (read
Oh, right, and royal weddings, too. Can't forget that. "Exxon profits jump 69%" got a line-item in the screen crawl at the bottom of CNN's broadcast on Thursday afternoon, right beneath the talking head who gushed about getting up early in the morning to watch the British festivities. One hopes the prince has his own birth certificate in order. Could be trouble if not.
Don't be fooled, however. Despite the vast hurricane of nonsense and distraction being blown over the American people by the "news" media, by the clowns they cover, and by the politicians who avoid substance the way cats avoid water, there have in fact been scores of people shouting from the rooftops about the problems we face, and about the solutions that are not only possible, but within our grasp if we choose to reach for them. Some of these voices are from the present, some are from the past, yet they all share the same ignominious fate of the perpetually ignored. The problems we face are known - they are, indeed, standing right in front of us, stomping on our feet, and screaming into our faces - but until now, the right combination of volume, influence, charisma and argument have not yet coalesced into the kind of message that will not only resonate, but will be unavoidable in its assertions.
Strange problems make for strange solutions. In a country where people of good conscience are ignored in favor of megalomaniacs like Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, our society has been well-trained to sit up and pay rapt attention in matters regarding the military. We worship at the altar of the armed forces, and for two basic reasons
The Trumps and Palins of the world run their mouths into many proffered microphones and cameras, while those interested in the genuine betterment of the nation are dismissed and ignored. Thus it has been for some time now...but when the military speaks, all ears turn to listen.
So be it.
The following are portions of a paper published by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (.pdf) that was written by two members of the armed services
Something else remarkable
We don't listen to progressive politicians, public figures or media personalities - past or present - even as the truth of their assertions and solutions burn brightly before us. Maybe what
In one sentence, the strategic narrative of the
Among the trends that are already shaping a "new normal" in our strategic environment arethe decline of rural economies, joblessness, the dramatic increase in urbanization, an increasing demand for energy, migration of populations and shifting demographics, the rise of grey and black markets, the phenomenon of extremism and anti-modernism, the effects of global climate change, the spread of pandemics and lack of access to adequate health services, and an increasing dependency on cyber networks. At first glance, these trends are cause for concern. But for Americans with vision, guided by values, they represent opportunities to reestablish and leverage credible influence, converging interests, and interdependencies that can transform despair into hope. This focus on improving our strategic ecosystem, and favorably competing for our national interests, underscores the investment priorities cited earlier, and the imaginative application of diplomacy, development, and defense in our foreign policy.
In complex systems, adaptation and variation demonstrate that "binning" is not only difficult, it often leads to unintended consequences. For example, labeling, or binning, Islamist radicals as "terrorists," or worse, as "jihadis," has resulted in two very different, and unfortunate unintended misperceptions
As Americans, our ability to remain relevant as a world leader, to evolve as a nation, depends as it always has on our determination to pursue our national interests within the constraints of our core values.We must embrace and respect diversity and encourage the exchange of ideas, welcoming as our own those who share our values and seek an opportunity to contribute to our nation. Innovation, imagination, and hard work must be applied through a national unity of effort that recognizes our place in the global system.We must accept that to be great requires competition and to remain great requires adaptability, that competition need not demand a single winner,and that through converging interests we should seek interdependencies that can help sustain our interests in the global strategic ecosystem. To achieve this we will need the tools of development, diplomacy and defense - employed with agility through an integrated whole of nation approach.This will require the prioritization of our investments in intellectual capital and a sustainable infrastructure of education, health and social services to provide for the continuing development and growth of America's youth; investment in the nation's sustainable security - on our own soil and wherever Americans and their interests take them, including space and cyberspace; and investment in sustainable access to, cultivation and use of, the natural resources we need for our continued wellbeing, prosperity and economic growth in the world marketplace.
As Americans we needn't seek the world's friendship or to proselytize the virtues of our society.Neither do we seek to bully, intimidate, cajole, or persuade others to accept our unique values or to share our national objectives. Rather, we will let others draw their own conclusions based upon our actions.Our domestic and foreign policies will reflect unity of effort, coherency and constancy of purpose. We will pursue our national interests and allow others to pursue theirs, never betraying our values. We will seek converging interests and welcome interdependence. We will encourage fair competition and will not shy away from deterring bad behavior. We will accept our place in a complex and dynamic strategic ecosystem and use credible influence and strength to shape uncertainty into opportunities. We will be a pathway of promise and a beacon of hope, in an ever changing world.
It is not a perfect document by any means, and many progressives may recoil at the deep vein of militarism woven throughout the work. Consider, however, the fact that here is a well-crafted argument for slashing military spending, resolving the health care crisis in a way that benefits people instead of profit, refining the way we educate our children so that educational funds are not an afterthought, fixing our crumbling national infrastructure, and turning away from the decades-old habit of approaching our national existence from a position of strife, distrust, conflict and war. Here, in short, is a blueprint for a progressive future that speaks to all the problems we face.
Consider this, also
Perhaps those people you know would find themselves receptive to a progressive argument made by a Marine officer and a Naval officer who both work in the Pentagon. We are, after all, a culture that attaches great significance to military service. Here are two service members speaking to the needs of the future while wearing the uniform. Here is a progressive perspective wrapped securely in the flag.
William Rivers Pitt is a Truthout editor and columnist. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs
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