It's a mere two weeks until George W. Bush is inaugurated for his second term as President of the United States of America and I am still trying to piece together an intelligent, cohesive vision of what has been happening south of the border. Here's what I've got so far.
The Left (pardon the phrase;as unhelpful as it is, it is of their own making) is taking this opportunity to demonize those voters who pulled the Republican handle in the voting booth. First and foremost of these is the site Sorry Everybody which compiles photos of Americans who voted for Kerry apologizing for their Republican neighbours. Some of the photos are poetic, some are touching- but the sentiment isn't very constructive. And the medium isn't very conducive to addressing any of the deeper issues:
* since many people who actually think about these kinds of things know that foreign troops will be in Iraq for close to ten years. And that the resulting traumatized state left behind will be no long term friend of the West...
* that the world view on US foreign policy is not going to be altered much until the Bush Doctrine is abandoned and vilified as the illegal Cowboy Diplomacy it is.
* that there is a strong chance that America's over-all level of hubris and spite will isolate them even more in the coming decades from their traditional allies.
* that their electoral system is allowing a faction of the Republican party to create a thinly veiled theocracy that threatens to plunge their nation into some kind of deformed consumerist, anti-intellectual, militarized ghetto.
The war in Afghanistan was the most shocking event of my life time. It set a Christian super-power upon an actual Muslim Theocracy. The long term implications of this in the rest of the Muslim world is incalculable; but the lack of acknowledgement or even awareness of this amongst the American population is a stunning example of how far removed the U.S. population is from having the tools to engage in useful discourse about foreign policy, government, morality... Bushes re-election is one symptom of that- Kerry's utter failure to bring light to this and other foreign policy issues is another.
Shouting out "It's the Crusades, stupid!" would be stretching the point a bit too far, but not by much. President George W. Bush said it first:
"This is a new kind of, a new kind of evil. And the American people are beginning to understand. This crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while. And American people must be patient."
Washington, D.C., Sept. 16, 2001
Without any ability to understand why they are under siege, without any hope of entering a dialogue with their enemy, there will be no peace for America. This legacy can not be laid at the feet of this administration, nor any party's.
I fear, more than anything, I fear that it is the end result of that thing we call American culture. The American Dream. The rampant pursuit of wealth in the face of environmental degradation. Holywood's perpetual habit of selling narcissism and jingoism as entertainment. The use of American capitol to manipulate foreign markets and economies. The Myth of the American Century, the American millennia. All has lead to a society full of gaily coloured peacocks, set loose in a wonderland of 24/7 convenience and technological marvel, protected by a vastly expensive military that refuses to show it's own dead arriving home.
This is what I fear America is becoming and, I fear, by extension and proximity, what we may become as well.
(to see version with HTML links to sources check my blog: http://wakingupinbliss.blogspot.com/2004/12/aftermath.html