[SPORK] A Fundamental Failure of Perception
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
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
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.