Worldview: Rage participation is better than none at all

Let’s face it. Donald John Trump is turning out to be everything anyone who actually paid attention during the 2016 presidential election cycle thought he would be. He is now doing things people detest for reasons they detest and, in doing so, is upsetting the apple cart of the status quo in the federal government in ways people are infuriated by.

Yet, for all Trump’s flaws, this is exactly what our nation needs. We need to be uncomfortable. We need to have things to oppose. We need to be enraged. Because, in the end, that’s the only way to get anyone to participate anymore.

You see, American politics is and always has been a full contact sport, but during my lifetime, millions of Americans have either stopped participating altogether or have convinced themselves that participation involves nothing more than voting every couple of years.

With the election of Trump and all that entails, things have already changed. Suddenly, millions of people care. Their care spilled into the streets with protests. People are following news in ways they haven’t for decades. Opposition groups are forming outside the control of traditional political organizations. People are seeking out ways to actively participate in the 2018 midterms and beyond.

It’s sad that it took the election of someone like Trump to ignite that kind of desire to participate, but if that’s what it takes, then so be it. Rage participation is better than no participation, so long as We the People do what we should have been doing all along.

So, yes, it’s going to be a long four years. Trump is going to enrage millions with his ridiculousness, but if all people do is complain, so what? Do something about it, and that will make all the difference in the world.

DLH

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Worldview: For the love of god and country

I once opined that no one can face a fiercer opponent than someone fighting for what they hold most dear.

We Americans, and really most Westerners, have a very romantic view of that idea. When we hear it, we see Spartans fighting at Thermopylae or Colonists fighting the Redcoats or Churchill exhorting the English to fight the Germans on the beaches.

Sure, there is that, but nobody said that what someone holds most dear has to be lovely or honorable in order for someone to be willing to die for it.

In fact, it is that very romantic fallacy that is causing us to lose the so-called War on Terror. What we’re failing to realize is that the fighters who have flocked to the likes of al Qaeda and al Shabbab and ISIS and their many brethren around the world fiercely love the variety of Islam they have embraced. They love it so much, they are willing to kill themselves trying to spread it and defend it.

Until we realize these people have embraced in harsh reality an ideal we have turned into fuzzy romance, we cannot beat them. It will never be enough to drop some bombs on the places they are currently hiding or to occupy the countries they happen to be operating from today. No, we have to attack the very foundations of what drives that ideology in the first place.

I understand that last notion is ugly and fraught with the potential for being cruel. As it turns out, so is our enemy.

DLH

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Worldview: Uncomfortable Infamy

A guest post by Pete Hitzeman

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.”

–Franklin Delano Roosevelt, December 8, 1941

 

It’s another one of my favorite and least favorite days. Like Veterans’ Day, Memorial Day, and now Patriot Day, Pearl Harbor Day is one in which people update their Facebook statuses with pictures and quotes, briefly put on somber faces, and talk about remembering and honoring those who died. And then they tick the box of their annual moral obligation for another year, and go on looking at pictures of cats with things on their heads.

I submit that while remembering and honoring are fine and noble things, would it not be more useful, indeed more appropriate to talk about what happened and why? Would not the voices of those honored dead beg us to prevent future tragedies in any way possible? I don’t think we can honor their sacrifice properly without diligently trying to learn from and prevent the circumstances that precipitated the necessity of that sacrifice. This sort of discussion, while uncomfortable, is important, and today is an appropriate time to have it, lest we put it off indefinitely and fail to take its hard lessons.

The most painful lessons of days like today and 9/11 was that they didn’t have to happen. In the weeks, days and hours leading up to each of those attacks, there were signs that were ignored, intelligence that was discounted, and warnings that went unheeded. More than that, the circumstances that facilitated the possibility of those attacks were rooted in flawed policy and naïve beliefs about the nature of the world. Almost inexplicably, there are many today pontificating that we should again espouse those very same policies and beliefs.

I believe that the men and women who died on those days would be far happier if we were trying to figure out how to prevent future similar events, rather than simply “honoring” them with some sort of superficial sobriety.

This is part of a larger issue, for me. It is “impolite” to discuss difficult things (like politics) in polite company. It is “inappropriate” to talk about the reasons we have to send our young men into battle on the days we have selected to honor their service and sacrifice. The result of this mindset is, to me, that we never discuss those difficult things because they are uncomfortable, and that has led to redundant wars that cost us lives and strain our nation, and a political system so broken that no one believes it can be fixed. We should, and we must start having these discussions, and I can think of no better time, so long as it is done respectfully, than days like today.

An objective assessment of the histories of the two largest attacks on American sovereignty in the past century lays bare the fallacy, still being advanced as truth today, that if we leave the world alone, it will return the favor. One of the principal challenges of being a global superpower is that we must, in the interest of our own survival, discover and engage threats to us, our allies and our interests at home and abroad, before they precipitate into full scale assaults on our homeland and civilian populace. If we fail to do so, if we forget or ignore the lessons offered by the catastrophes of our past, we are guaranteeing that in the future, we will have to set aside yet more days to remember our fallen. And that in no way honors those who have already died.

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Worldview: Julian Assange: The new kingmaker?

The rise of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks represents the rise of the non-state actor as a significant force on the world state. While historically such actors were terrorist groups, Assange and his website represent a new entry: that of the information broker.

It seems to me that, given his albeit rather tepid success so far, it is almost inevitable that he will eventually stumble upon the kind of information he is looking for: information capable of toppling powerful people or governments.

The question that remains is “then what?”

I know there are people who think that what Assange and WikiLeaks is doing is good because it somehow holds governments accountable for their actions. I find that most people who think that way rarely consider the consequences of their actions.

The consequences of Assange’s actions have the potential to be world changing, but not in a good way. What will the consequences of power vacuums be? What will the consequences of more strained international relations be? What will the consequences of reducing the most powerful nation on the planet’s ability to act be?

More than likely, Assange and his supporters will be responsible for more hardship, violence, war, and death than the people, nations, and governments they seek to discredit. They will achieve this dubious distinction by creating an international climate of distrust, suspicion, and aggression through the selective release of information designed to have those effects. And, when they succeed, far too few people will make the connection.

We have entered a dangerous time, and non-state actors represent part of that danger. The question remains as to whether the United States and the world are capable of meeting the threat and dealing with it.

DLH

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