Stand Up Straight-49-50
Stand Up Straight
Creamer Dec 2009
Pretitle: Listen to
your Mother Subtitle: How Progressives Can Win
C. 49 The Challenges
We Face: Acts by
Hostile Note Neighbors -- The Impact of Inter-Group Violence and
Breakdown of Security Hostile
acts by neighbors can lead to catastrophic collapse. History abounds
with examples -- often compounded by other factors. Two commonly used
examples while the collapse of the Roman empire and collapses of many
Native American societies. Our traditional views of conflict between
nations and international violence of all types are being qualitatively
changed by two of the factors we've already discussed:
The Explosion of Military Technology Technology
builds upon itself -- it is an autocatalytic process, and it does not
expand gradually but exponentially. The major threats of today are
nuclear weapons and weapon eyes biological agents. Of the two, the one
that is the most scary at present is bioengineering and the new science
of synthetic biology.
- The worldwide explosion
of technology, space the military technology, and its diffusion worldwide.
- The massive increase in world population and the per capita impact on world resources that could turbocharge increased competition for scarce natural resources.
Increases in World Population and Per
Capita Impact on Natural Resources -- Scarcity and Conflict The
exponential increase in total human impact on the world's natural
resources could greatly increase competition for scarce resources. Some examples are:
Fundamentalist conservatives, including groups called the neocons, believe that human
beings are innately bad, but that the use of punishment and force as
methods of social control can protect us from our own inherent evil.
Progressives believe that human beings are fundamentally good, but can
perpetrate unspeakable terror -- especially if those actions are
sanctioned by peer approval. In the book, Cobra II, Michael R. Gordon and General Bernard E. Trainer offer this ugly comment from a senior
officer in Baghdad, "The only thing the sand niggers understand is
force. And I'm about to introduce them to it." Neocons often accuse the
Progressives as wearing "rose-colored glasses" because we don't
want to begin negotiations with force.
- The Japanese conflict in World War II was heavily based in their desire for secure oil supplies.
- Today's conflict in the Persian Gulf turned heavily on the need for oil.
- Resources on Easter Island were over utilized, the ultimate
result was the collapse of society, Civil War, and cannibalism.
- When the Norse Greenlanders could no longer support their
population, Norse from less productive settlements moved to more
productive settlements. This swamped the more productive settlements
and they all died.
- One of the major underlying factors in the Rwandan genocide
was population density and unproductive agriculture. Many Rwandans killed
others to take their land.
The Failure of Neoconservative Foreign
and Military Policy Far
from making either the United States or the world safer, neocon foreign
and military policies positively endanger our security and that of
future generations. The "strict father" fundamentalist conservative
values upon which they are based simply don't work to produce the
advertised goal of safety and security. He reviews the ideas of George
Lakoff to demonstrate how this foreign policy comes directly from the
"strict father" metaphor. The underlying facts are that positive
reinforcement shapes behavior in the direction intended, where
negative reinforcement, "punishment", tends to suppress a particular
behavior but this results in some other behavior that one has no idea
what it may be.
The Iraqi Civil War
The main lesson learned by the groups in Iraq was that war and violence
changes things. Many different groups decided that they would change
things using the same techniques. This is typically the case in country
Lessons We Learned from Neocon Rule
- War is not just another "tool"
of foreign policy. War can spiral out of control. Avoiding war must be
one of the key goals of American foreign policy in the 21st century.
- If you have them by the "balls," their hearts and minds do not necessarily follow.
- Neocon policy jeopardizes the fundamental interests of the United States.
The Bush foreign policy could have been scripted by Osama bin Laden>
- The Bush policy has created thousands of new radicalized Islamists who hate America. It has increased the pool of potential terrorists willing to do damage to America.
- The Bush policy has alienated the people of Iraq who we came to "liberate."
- The neocon policy caused the global image of the United States to plummet.
- The war has simultaneously benefited American adversaries who
are also enemies of each other -- Sunni fundamentalist bin Laden and
the Shiite fundamentalist Iranian leadership.
- The war in Iraq has sapped American military force and
communicated the exact opposite of Bush's intended message to the
world. It has shown the limits of American power.
- Neocon policies have cost America the
high moral ground in more than just the Arab world.
- Finally, the policy has made Iraq,
which formerly was not a base for terrorists aimed at the United
States, into a new training and recruiting ground for terrorists bent
on our destruction.
The Next Potential Neocon Disaster -- Iran
In the spring of 2006, the author joined his wife and a number of other
Democratic members of Congress for dinner with a group of Iran policy
scholars and former CIA officials. They believe that the neocons were
planning a military attack on Iran and urged members of Congress to
consider two key points:
The Problem of Proliferating WMD
The spread of all forms of weapons of mass destruction -- especially
new nuclear weapon technology -- is a massive problem. A
status quo where some states have nuclear weapons and others do not is
unsustainable and unstable over the long run. The neocons
have no inkling that this might be true. How can the US demand
nuclear abstention by other nations while it is planning another nuclear orgy
of its own?
- The best estimates were that the
earliest Iran could develop a nuclear weapon was from 4 to 9 years.
- Once again a preemptive war would likely spin out of control.
Iran is a highly mobilized society with a well organized and financed
military. If the United States tried to take out their nuclear
facilities from the air, they would retaliate.
Jihadism And American Foreign Policy Writing
in The New Yorker, George Packer says:
Jihadism poses two very different threats to the United States: the
danger of catastrophic attack inside the country by a handful of
dedicated individuals, and a much broader power to catalyze ideological
extremism among vast numbers of people. The Bush administration has
waged the war by playing on the fear of the first at home, while
failing to address the second abroad, and thereby intensifying it. In
the near future, radical Islamism is a greater threat to Moslems and
other citizens of foreign countries than to Americans.
The challenge of Jihadism must be approached in three ways:
Address the Security Crisis
Caused by Third World Poverty Neocons
have failed not only because of what they have done, but also
because of what they have failed to do: long-term investment in the
development of impoverished Third World societies. Worldwide
communications delivers daily images of first world lifestyles to
viewers and listeners in slums and villages in every corner of the
planet. The gulf that lies between their aspirations and the reality of
their daily lives is our most dangerous security risk. He chooses Haiti
for his examples because of personal connections and because Haiti is
the poorest country in our hemisphere.
- A rigorous defense against terrorist attack -- including
beefed up port security and security for chemical plants and other vulnerable
- We must offer a compelling progressive vision of the world
that can compete with fundamentalist fanaticism.
- We must create trade and investment and aid policies that
truly foster economic growth in the developing world.
A brief political history of Haiti. Haiti was founded 200 years ago
as a result of a slave rebellion against French colonial rule.
The US has traditionally backed the small elite that has dominated the
island's economy and policies. In 1990, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a
progressive priest and hero to the country's poor, was elected
president by 70% of the vote. Since then the Neocons have
been busy attacking him, with some success
Leave Now or Die The
author's wife, Jan (a congresswoman from Illinois), became good friends
with Aristide and especially his wife, Mildred. One evening as
Jan was talking to Mildred on the telephone, the author saw a news
report on television that Aristide was planning to leave the country
and go into exile and that the US was "facilitating" the
transition. He walked into the kitchen, told his wife and found
that Mildred had no idea of any problem. Later on that evening
the Aristide's were wakened by US troops and told that there was an
aircraft awaiting which would transport them out of the country if they
left immediately. Presumably a group of soldiers were
attacking the palace and were planning on killing them.
Structural Violence is the two bit word that describes the relationship between
power and social conditions which determine which the people will
survive and prosper and those who will suffer abuse and poverty.
Acephie's Story Forced into prostitution, she
contacts AIDS and it dies of it after transmitting it to her young daughter.
The Effects of Structured Violence .
AIDS, malaria, diarrhea, tuberculosis are all treatable. Many are
preventable. Fundamentalist conservatives reallocate resources that
could treat these diseases to the very rich. The author discusses
articles 25 and 27 of the Universe Declaration of Human Rights of the
UN. Briefly these say that everyone has the right to a standard
of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his
family and to the right to share in scientific advancement and and its
benefits. These statements are the reflection of the community
commitment to progressive values by the world community. They are
the antithesis of fundamentalist conservative Republican values.
violence is violence. It causes suffering and death just as certainly
as the explosion of a bomb
- Structural violence leads to political violence -- domestic
violence, civil wars, and international violence. The structural
violence caused by poverty is not always endured in silence and passive
resistance. Is a fundamental cause of civil wars, revolutions, guerrilla
movements, terrorist acts, and genocide that threaten the stability and
survival of societies.
- The same forms of structural violence impact large numbers of
people in our own society. Poverty in the US has risen consistently since 2000.
- If we broaden our focus for the challenges that affect our
society in the 21st century to include everyone on the planet, the
problem of structural violence affects huge percentages of the world
- The moral importance of structural violence is staggering. We
can't blame forces "beyond our control." We can't blame "mother
nature". Structural violence is caused by human decisions.
Progressive Values and Security
The Bush years provided a stark demonstration that the "tough" macho
bluster of fundamentalist conservative values does not provide us with
more security, it provides us with less.
- Neoconservative conservative policy ignores the core progressive
value of empathy. This represents a moral failure. But it also prevents
neoconservative policymakers from correctly predicting the consequences
of their own actions.
- The fundamentalist conservative failure to acknowledge that
complex causation has moral consequences makes it impossible to address
the problems of the modern world.
- The failure of fundamentalist conservative values to take a
long-term view is heavily related to to its rejection of moral
importance of complex causation. Their values result in action
intended to "win the battle," but end up losing the war. It obliterates
our moral authority to stand for human rights everywhere else in
- The "Exceptionalism" that flows from fundamentalist conservative
"moral law" values is dysfunctional in the modern integrated
world. Politically, this fundamentalist conservative mix of
exceptionalism increasingly leads to failure:
Fundamentalist conservative values place a priority on
unrestrained pursuit of individual self interest. When that is combined
with the conservative exceptionalism, it plays out in unilateral action
that is dangerous to peace in the modern world. In the case of Iraq,
the unilateralist approach went to the extent of "preemptive war."
It turned out, of course, the "weapons of mass destruction"
which the war was intended to "preempt" did not exist.
Conservative values are not tough, realistic approaches to a dangerous
world. They themselves are a danger to peace and security.
In many respects, they represent the antithesis of the priorities need
to prevent our burgeoning technology and exploding population and
growing interdependence from combining to form an explosive brew that
endangers our survival.
- -- It send a message to others that we don't respect them
their culture, or their religion.
- -- It denies the fact that the United States is not the only center of power in the world.
- -- To everyone else, it makes Americans look like hypocrites. Under George
Bush, the US has pressed other governments to pledge that they will
exempt the US from the jurisdiction of the international criminal
Court. Most people in the world believe that the laws should be obeyed
- -- Exceptionalism completely undercuts our ability to exert moral leadership.
- -- This kind of exceptionalism endangers Americans abroad.
- -- That would not only be a tragedy for Americans, it would
undermine the development of the international rule of law that is
critical to ensure that non-violent resolution of conflict in the
C. 50 The Challenges We Face:
Interruption of Interdependent Relationships -- Especially the Collapse
of Trade Relations
Pitcairn and Henderson Between
the years 1000 and 1450, the three islands of Pitcairn, Henderson, and
Mangareva maintained a thriving trading community. However around 1450
the trade stopped. The reason seems to be a disastrous environmental
change in Mangareva and to a lesser extent Pitcairn. The problem was
that Mangareva was susceptible to deforestation, which led to the same
problem of Easter Island. With no trees, they could not build big
canoes and therefore fishing yields decreased. This was a disaster for
Mangareva but it was fatal for Henderson and Pitcairn. They could not
survive on their own without the trade from Mangareva and humans became
extinct on both islands. This serious of a problem has not hit the
western world, however there are least four major aspects of the
worldwide increase in economic interdependence that will provide major
challenges of the future:
- Dependence of developed economies on others for critical resources that may become exhausted.
- Collapse in the financial markets or the trading system.
- Political interruptions in trade relationships.
- The effects of globalization on the distribution of world economic resources between countries and within them.
1) Dependence of Developed Economies
on Others for Critical Resources
That May Become Exhausted At
the current pace of use, oil resources will become exhausted during
the first half of the 21st century. Serious programs for efficient oil
use could extend our supplies, but oil is in the end, a nonrenewable
resource. One of our most critical challenges is to maintain oil for as
long as possible and create new sustainable resources to replace it. In
the meantime, the more that control of energy resources is concentrated,
the more vulnerable they are to disruption.
There are many nonrenewable resources for which countries depend upon
each other. Fish stocks, forests, and wildlife which in general are
managed poorly today.
2) Collapse of Financial Markets or Trading Systems.
In the last 50 years, trading system and financial markets have truly
globalized. However they are still subject to potential catastrophic
disruptions. The two most recent are the Asian financial crisis of
1997-98 and the banking crisis of 2008-2009. It seems that the only
thing we've learned is that bankers and stock traders can pay
more for their preferred laws than other people.
The Trade Deficit and You
The US trade deficit seems to keep climbing year after year after year.
Lending in the Shadows
The fragility of financial systems is exacerbated by one other important
factor. Many lenders are forsaking the transparent global financial
markets for the shadows of private financial deals. These are known under a
number of different names such as hedge funds, index funds, and
derivatives... These contributed greatly to the banking crisis of
Political Interruption of Trading Relationships We -- and other societies -- are also vulnerable to non-economic
interruptions and trade relationships that can endanger our economies.
An attack by the US on Iran could, for instance, substantially increase
our oil prices. Economic sanctions played a major role in forcing an
end to apartheid in South Africa by threatening its economic elite.
Sometimes these political interruptions are entirely irrational and serve only
the interests of a small group at the expense of the entire society,
the Cuban trade embargo and travel ban is the best example of this.
This trade ban is supported almost exclusively by small number of
conservative expatriate Cubans who wish to regain their economic
interest in Cuba. The only reason that this ban continues is that some
people believe that this group holds enough political power to control
elections in Florida. This is costing both the United States and Cuba
billions of dollars in trade and investments and our original
anti-Castro policy helped precipitate the Cuban missile crisis that
almost resulted in a nuclear war in the 1960s.
The Effects of Globalization on the
Distribution of Economic Resources  There
is no reason why trade agreements that set international standards for
investors, capital ownership, and intellectual property, should not
also set international standards for labor rights, working conditions,
and environmental impact. This is a must if we are to avoid being
forced by competitive pressure to lower our standards to the lowest
common denominator. The Europeans did it to integrate much of Europe's
economy. We can use the same approach worldwide.
Ciudad Juárez -- the Invisible Hand Is a Fist Ciudad Juárez is a city of 1.3 million directly across the Rio Grande from El
Paso, Texas. On the US side of the river, a worker can make $10-$15 per
hour doing the same job, for the same company, that will pay the same
worker on the other side of the river one dollar per hour. Is it any
wonder why these workers join the ranks of undocumented immigrants
seeking work in the United States?
Next file, Chapters
51-Conclusion Stand Up Straight Router