When there are, depending on definition, from 11,500 to 16,000 “people” groups in our 195 countries, all with their own agenda and hopes, is it not a dream that they can all be guided into fair and peaceful pursuits? Yet, there is no shortage of applicants to lead us. Dreamers, few desireable, include countries, empires, religions, multi-nationals, benefactors, oppressors, oligarchs, terrorists, merchants of death, and what-have-you?
With human survival now at risk, new revolutions are inevitable. Can we trust any leader? Both current top contenders are fraught with good and bad points, money woes, cancers, and lacking world-wide acceptance: the United Nations and the United States. The UN has the right but the US has the might. Their flaws?
The League of Nations failed to keep us from WWII and its successor, the UN, has failed to prevent the bloodshed that remains world-wide. Hardly an example of democracy, the 5 Security Council permanent members have exercised their veto powers: USSR 103 times, USA 79, (many in support of Israeli aggression). UK 29, France 16, and China 9. In fact Harry Truman warned at is founding that the US which had refused to join the League of Nations would not join the UN without a veto power.
To judge the US in the US is unpopular as its media paints a glowing picture of the great, and real, worldwide good it does, so we should just forget all the bad. Yet dissidents are growing more numerous and vociferous.
Blessed by Geography but cursed by History, the US promotes itself to lead and has made giant progress. Can it be trusted when its 300 million individually-owned guns prove it does not trust itself? Fractious at home the US has a love affair with itself abroad. It also suffers from a superiority complex, firmly believing it values, empathy, economics, wealth, capitalists, and military might are exactly what a floundering world needs.
While this problem may not rank with the greater ones we face such as over-population, climate change, water shortages, endemic violence, migrations, and the like, we do need to be cautious and ponder our alternatives.
Sure, it appears that the US is now secure in the world’s top-dog position, but how much of this is due to innate superiority and how much to skullduggery and enormous debt? How do we pursue a fair balance?
Geographically, the US enjoys a large land mass in a preferred climatic zone facing three oceans and peaceful neighbours. It has enormous natural resources. Sadly, with brutal force it did gain this land by stealing it from the original owners, then grabbing big chunks from Canada (upper NY State, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Washington State), from Mexico (Texas, California), from Polynesia (Hawaii, Guam, etc), from Cuba (Guantanamo) not to mention interfering in the rest of America - a name it steals from the rest of two continents implying it believes other occupants are unimportant. Endorsement of slavery multiplied this indifference.
The US Media has always played an independent, controlled, biased, unbiased, ignored, and influential role and still offers arguments to prove any interpretation we can dream up, thus demanding time, involvement, assessment, and intellect to uncover the truth which seems to differ day by day. Consider the endless, money-infested, US electioneering. Billions of dollars, needed elsewhere, are wasted insulting voters with constant reminders of for whom they must vote. Of current contestants, only Berni Sanders is not a hawk, but he lacks the coverage the Trump money-earning theatre gets. The complaints of many members of the National Press Corps that their investigative research suffers 90% censorship confirms my view that the for-profit news outlets are quite controlled and slanted and justifies me watching or reading the Berlin Diary, BBC, PBS, the UK Guardian, the Toronto Globe & Mail, al Jazeera, and a score of dissident investigative reporters.
The Military-Industrial Complex: Listening to the Senate-Armed-Services-Committee debates induces fearful foreboding. Members argued for more money to maintain weapons for endless future wars, not for preventing them. They claim the nation must modernize, simplify, and make more usable its already-world-destroying nuclear arsenal. The bloated 2016 budget could finalize between $572 and $682 billion. Too little heed has been paid to Eisenhower’s warning that this association thrives on wars and the threat of wars. If no enemies exist, invent some. Russia continues to be a good candidate. Just look at its aggression in the Ukraine. But is not the Ukraine the real Russia? Never mind, badboy Putin must be contained but would Trump be any better? Iran can be feared, forgetting the West has done far more harm to it than vice versa, There is always China in and out of favour, but above all there is Daesh and Al Qaida, and Al Shababa, and Boko Haram - the list is endless and their inhumanity does necessitate a strong military to eliminate them. But, does not the West share the blame for their birth and existence? How useful are current weapons? Our errors and root causes need scrutiny and remedies. For whose benefit do we need the US to tax and borrow the enormous sums needed to deploy 2,118,000 able-bodied men and women, 450 ICBMS, 11 Carrier Groups, 14 SSBNs, 304 navy ships, 137 USAF squadrons of which 13 are bomber and 75 fighter, and to maintain, at the moment, about 737 bases around the world when the Roman Empire flourished with 37 and the larger British with 36?
In comparison, Russia has 10 foreign bases, 8 of which are in former USSR countries. France has 23, 8 of which are in former or current colonies, the UK has 12, 8 in former or current colonies. Not counting Tibet, China has one (Djibouti) but does have several economic footholds in Africa and the Americas.
Germany hosts 268 US bases, a source of shame for a great country, yet a town near a US base that was set for closure urged the German Government to persuade the US to change its mind. For a small town it was a great source of jobs and income. Money sometimes trumps national pride.
Does not the huge superiority of the US military and economic might work against the interests of its taxpayers? The invasions of Viet Nam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, plus the support of aggressive regimes in Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia resulted in havoc and immense suffering. Likewise, UK taxpayers complained about the cost of empire even though it was a source of pride to see on world maps one quarter coloured red. It does force other countries to increase their military budgets and seek other alliances to gain more importance at least in their own eyes. Whether it is the Yukon gold rush or current conflicts it is the contractors who provide the jobs and make the profits but gravity works in reverse. Profits accumulate at the very top. So, when we think of a country do we mean the politicians, the oligarchs, or the people?
Are sole super powers good or bad for humanity? It is a source of an inferiority complex to have foreigners come in and dominate your culture and take your women, yet several empires brought peace, jobs, security, schooling, housing, and transportation. The fact that most of the British Empire chose to remain in the Commonwealth after peaceful transition to independence speaks well of Britain’s tenure as top dog. Even a non-Empire country, Madagascar, joined the Commonwealth. Gurkhas still seek to join the British army. It was also a proud boast of “Civus Romanus sum” when many conquered people were granted Roman citizenship.
The latest terror weapon is drones. The US leads, by far, with their use followed by Israel, the UK, China, and (suspected) Pakistan, Russia, and Iran. Advances in means of killing fellow humans has never been exclusive. From the invention of the bow and arrow or the smelting of iron the inventions of the few soon become the property of the all. Now is the time to halt this and other weapons. Drones claim to be clean, taking fewer lives and allowing the aggressor to kill safely from a distance. It can never be free of collateral damage and think of the world-wide terror we will all face when, in 10 years, every group will have them. The US was the first to use nuclear weapons and has yet to be followed by others although they are now possessed in terrifying numbers by Russia, France, China, the UK, India, Israel, Pakistan, and North Korea. Countries that had them, like the Ukraine and South Africa, eliminated theirs and many countries with the capability, like Canada, have refrained from making them, but it is foreboding that Canada has experimented with and may now join the drone club. We can be certain it will not stop there.
Humans cannot be trusted and before the forces mentioned in the 6th paragraph of this essay bec ome dominant thus putting pressure on the holders of weapons of mass destruction to actually use them it is imperative we start immediately at their reduction and elimination. The US, Russia, China, and India must lead in this.
The US has only 5% of the world’s population so it has no grounds to dominate. The NRA, dominant in the US, preaches that only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun. Why then were there 13,286 killed and 26,814 wounded by guns in the US in 2015? No good guys? There have been times in world history when military might served humanity but overall it has failed us, killing at least 6 billion people, and causing much destruction and grief. It is high time to turn our swords into ploughshares.
Let US scientists, educators, philanthropists, astronauts, authors, entertainers, and so on continue world collaboration while the country, and the rest of the world under UN guidance and support, turn to the strong base in every country of talented, respectful, peaceful, likeable, humans who respect their environment and the rights of others.
Our best chance for survival is to provide an improved United Nations the wherewithal to enforce its humane goals - an immense task with Greed and Ignorance our main enemies, but is there any other flicker of hope?