Wake Up, America; A World of Unpredictable Outcomes
Byline: Barry Casselman, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
For about 35 years, America has dreamt. From the end of the Vietnam War to September 11, 2001, it was a spectacular reverie. It included a triumphal and mostly nonviolent end to the Cold War, our rise to sole possession of the military superpower cup, and the continuation of our hegemony over the world economy. It was the realization of the mythic "American dream" so long celebrated by our writers, idealists and political scientists. It was a fantastic if premature waking dream that unified the values of our forbears in Europe with the spiritual and secular pragmatism of our own earlier pioneer culture. It seemed to have the sturdy architecture of British legal principle, the solid foundations of the intellectual fruits of the post-medieval Renaissance, and the constant, if not infinite, nurture of science and technological vention.
The world, however, is always in changing itself, and it has little respect for predictable outcomes.
It has no time, as well, for pretense.
For five years now, the United States has begun to adjust to a world it had not really seen coming. Yes, some who understood the emerging computer and Internet technologies did predict dramatic change, but no one truly knew that this would change the world as the Industrial Revolution did about 200 years before. Yes, a few political scientists who did the math speculated that, at some future date, China and India would become the major economies of the world, but until India abandoned socialism and China embraced capitalism (minus representative democracy), it was only speculation. Yes, a few medical scientists knew that new diseases would likely attack our species, and that a horrific influenza pandemic would come again, but no one knew what, how and when.
A few statesmen, including the young Winston Churchill, saw danger from Islamic fanaticism, but since the Dark Ages when Islamic culture flowered and was more advanced than Europe, and the Ottoman Empire declined, Islam was not taken seriously in the West and in America where few Moslems lived. American enemies in the past: British imperialists; Mediterranean pirates; Spanish colonialists; the Central Powers of Europe; the Nazis of Germany; Japan and their Axis allies; the Soviet Union and international communism came and went. American power dispatched them all, even when they descended into the barbarism of the Holocaust, Japanese militarism and Soviet oppression.
Now we face a new and perhaps more ominous enemy. We also have allowed many of our domestic institutions to be weakened by neglect, bad planning, distraction and procrastination. …