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Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Fools Rush In

Back when it became clear that we were going to attack Iraq, no matter what, I wondered about why Bush wanted to rush in to war like a blind fool. That sense of "wonder" took me down many paths. The "anger path" as I thought about Bush's frat boy ego and how reality could penetrate it. The "sadness path" as I thought about all the well meaning but lied to young men who enlisted for all the right reasons only to be led by all the wrong people. And the "utter confusion path" as I watched the democratic party basically roll over and let Bush play Napoleon.

But one path I have never really been down is the "philosophical path". The line of thought that examines how our invasion of Iraq is part of a nearly inevitable cycle of rise and decline that nations go through. Well here it is by way of a "New Deal democrat kos diary.

In his iconic 1987 tome, "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers", Paul Kennedy set forth a theory of how great powers rise and fell: in essence, first comes economic power; then comes military power to protect economic interests; next economic power wanes, even as military power (expensively) continues; and finally, no longer able to support imperial overreach, the military power collapses as well.

Americans may be astonished at how precisely his description of the decline of the British Empire a century ago resonates today, almost twenty years after his exposition was published. So, we are not the first travelers down this road, others have come this way before, leaving us if we are careful to read them, signposts. To see how Kennedy's examination of the past uncannily described the future, follow me below the fold, and we will examine how, as Mark Twain famously opined, history may not repeat, but it rhymes.

I haven't read the book but that won't stop me from commenting...

America has two great strengths that, should we choose to preserve them, offer the opportunity to continually renew ourselves and avoid the decline of previous great powers.

One is our Constitution, with its checks and balances, the promise of open public debate, and peaceful transfer of power via elections.

The other strength is our multi-ethnic background which, together with the promised separation of church and state, should keep us from falling victim to ethnic and religious divisions.

Both these strengths are under assault by the current Republican party and their War on the Constitution. Should they be successful in consolidating power, I believe America will lose the strengths that would permit it to renew itself one more time.
Well put. Bush has clearly made it his mission as president to take a sledge-hammer to:
- checks and balances,
- open public debate,
- peaceful transfer of power via elections, and
- the separation of church and state,

I've gotten to the point where I believe the country's future depends on a miracle. And that miracle is rank and file republicans rising up and repudiating their party's un-American leadership.
Amen Jason, you go.
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