Meditations (Politics): Meeting the Curve
Meeting the Curve
The cornerstone of the short-lived and quickly crumbling post-Cold War order is the myth of ''the sole remaining superpower.'' It is an exceedingly false and dangerous premise that began with the fall of the Soviet Union.
In January of 1990, I traveled to the Soviet Union to work with a man touted as a leading example of a new type of businessman under Gorbachev’s perestroika. It was after the fall of the Berlin Wall, but before the collapse of the Soviet Union, which appeared to me, and a group of friends and associates, like a foregone conclusion.
Why is this relevant now? Because the Bush Administration has begun priming the American people for another war, with Iran in the cross hairs this time. It behooves us to understand how things came to this pass.
North Korea reacted the day after implied threats from Rice in Paris (a deliberately dark irony) and Bush in Washington, by declaring that it had “nukes,” and that it would not participate in the next round of six-party disarmament talks. The pronouncement sent shock waves through the international community, while triggering ponderous pronouncements of bewilderment by the American media.
One of my earliest formative pre-adolescent memories was of studying maps with concentric circles of missile ranges during the Cuban Missile Crisis. At the outer edge of the nuclear strike zone from Cuba was Detroit, not far from where I grew up.
After the closest brush ever with nuclear war, I was taught, at home and in school, that if Russians ever threw off the chains of communism, Americans would help them build a market economy and new society. So, in 1989 I naively started a joint-venture company “to promote ethically and ecologically sound trade between former superpower enemies.”
The basic premise was that both superpowers were collapsing, and there would be no winner of the Cold War. The Soviet Union was crumpling economically and politically, while the United States was crumbling morally and socially.
Needless to say, the opportunity, if it existed, for a genuine partnership between America and Russia (and with it a rational world order) was lost. The triumphalism of “the sole remaining superpower” quickly became ascendant and accepted at home and abroad. The United States was universally perceived to have won the Cold War, and that misperception, more than any other factor, set in motion events leading to Gulf Wars I and II, the Bosnian, Rwandan, and now Darfur genocides, “the global war on terror,” and the real threat of war with Iran and/or North Korea.
The US lost the Cold War as certainly as the USSR, just in a different way. The internal erosion in this country went unchecked until the death of America’s soul, which occurred with first Gulf War. The people, as a whole, became inwardly dead, and until a sufficient minority of Americans acknowledges that fact, nothing can or will change here. Therefore, those who place their stock in the return of American common sense are going to lose their shirts.
Washington, and to a lesser degree the European Union, are two world orders behind the curve. The post-Cold War assumptions, much less the post-World War II assumptions, no longer pertain. A dangerous vacuum of leadership has opened up in the world, which the autocratic Bush Administration is only too eager to exploit.
The next major blow to the international order will not be caused by a marginalized group of mass murderers safely ensconced in the failed (if sovereign and enabled) state of Afghanistan. The next shock will be a direct result of the destabilizing policies of “the sole remaining superpower.”
Here in the United States, the same propaganda and tactics that were successfully employed to invade Iraq are being used to prepare a supine citizenry for war against Iran. Rational people have presumed that the Bush Administration would have learned a lesson from its “war of choice” against Iraq, but they still believe they were right, and the scoundrels have begun priming the public for another war.
That is what happens when the European Community and others agree to “put our differences behind us,” without insisting on even a tacit admission of error by the Bush Administration. Meanwhile, the only possible institution of global governance in this unprecedented era of global society, the United Nations, is being savaged from within (by rampant sexual crimes by its staff in the Congo), and from without (by the oil-for-food scandal, for which the participating member states, including the United States, were responsible).
The stable post-World War II order, as well as the fleeting post-Cold War order, are history. Authoritarianism, even stealth authoritarianism, is not an option in a global society. A true order is being prepared and will rise, in Africa, from the ashes of the old.
- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The author welcomes comments.