[SPORK] A Fundamental Failure of Perception

Jeff Bone jbone@deepfile.com
Fri, 21 Mar 2003 14:41:43 -0600


On Friday, Mar 21, 2003, at 13:35 US/Central, johnhall wrote:

> (1) The US already dominates the world.
> (2) The question therefore isn't whether we will, but how long we will
> and what we will use that domination for.

John, thanks, you just helped crystalize a nascent argument for me.  
Here's the essential problem I have with the unilateralist / "might 
makes right" crowd.  It's not just an issue of principle, it's an issue 
of pragmatics stemming from a fundamental failure of perception.

"The US already dominates the world."

Well, you see, that's the problem.  We don't.  Neither we nor anyone 
else ever will, ever again.  That's the lesson we should've learned on 
9/11 but did not --- no nation can dominate, because technology and 
capitalism and media and freedom level the playing field.  Small 
players can wage an asymmetric war on any number of fronts and win.  
All the military force in the world can't make you safe, and being an 
unpopular bully is certain to make you unsafe.  Fundamentally, until 
and unless we come to grips with reality as it actually *is* in this 
matter --- we're going to continue to become less and less safe.

The true war --- the one that's going to be going on for years to come, 
with significant negative impact on global forward progress --- is the 
war between sub-national groups and "nation-states" who don't come to 
grips with the reality of the current situation.  We're seeing the 
death throes of nation-states right now;  it's the agonal breath of a 
dying idea.  When the reprisals (economic, diplomatic, terrorist) start 
--- inspired by today's ugliness and current policy, but probably won't 
happen immediately --- we'll know this to be true.  If we've got any 
sense left at all.  But then might be too late to prevent massive 
damage.

Bush is Heidi Rosen.  The US - under current policy - is the RIAA.  
Like the recording industry desperately and greedily hanging on to a 
low-value and obsolete business model, nations like the U.S. are going 
to continue to get pounded to shit (on economic, diplomatic, and 
security fronts) until they come to grips with the level of empowerment 
that smaller players have in the current environment.  And the problem 
is only going to be exacerbated by further inevitable technological 
development.

We may kill Saddam, but he's already won.  Even if we find Osama Bin 
Laden, he's already won.  Because the battle wasn't for Afghanistan, or 
Iraq, or WMD --- it was really a PR battle.  And we lost.

jb