Contrary to popular and pundit opinion, there are events in human history that are written before they occur. The end of the USSR in 1991 is one example. The end of US leadership in the world in 2017 appears to be another.
I’m not trying to make a case for determinism, much less predestination. I’m simply saying that like a freight train racing downhill without breaks, it doesn’t take a prophet to see a crash coming that no force on earth can prevent happening.
I read a sentiment today that was so jarring it confirmed in me the feeling that Donald Trump’s election to the most powerful office in the world may be inevitable. It read: “We must ensure that the United States remains a force for good in the world.”
It got me wondering—when was America last a force for good in the world? American leadership since 9/11 has ranged from abysmal during the Bush years to mediocre during the Obama years. But we ceased being a force for good well before that.
Conventional wisdom has it that the ‘90’s were the apex of ‘the American century.’ But America was already running on fumes during that decade; we just didn’t know it until the Twin Towers fell.
I think America ceased being a force for good in the world when it gave Saddam Hussein, a tyrant in our pocket in the ‘80’s, a wink and a nod to invade Kuwait, and then assembled a massive ‘coalition of the willing’ to have ourselves a nice little war to test out a whole new generation of weaponry.
[Eight days before Saddam invaded Kuwait, US Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, met with Hussein. The transcript reads: “We have no opinion on your Arab – Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary (of State James) Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960′s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America. (Saddam smiles)”]
Though I’d seen the war coming from early August (the US-led invasion began on January 17th), afterward I went into a deep funk. It wasn’t personal. I was doing pretty well, enjoying my life in Silicon Valley for the most part, and I’d begun awakening meditative states consistently. Besides, I’d known depression in my 20’s, and the disposition that dogged me had a completely different character.
The feeling continued for a few weeks after America’s glorious victory, a background emotional state that I couldn’t put my finger on. Finally, after an especially intense sitting in the hills overlooking South San Francisco Bay that yielded a completely quiet mind, I asked again (to no one and nothing in particular): What is this funk?
For the first and only time in my life I heard a voice that didn’t seem to come from my own head. Since the mind was very still, the voice reverberated with a declarative, somewhat exasperated and parental tone: “You’re in mourning.”
The feeling of relief at knowing what it was that had been ailing me overrode the weirdness of a seemingly outside entity answering my question. So without a moment’s hesitation, I asked the obvious question: ‘What am I mourning?’
The response was instantaneous: “You’re mourning the death of your nation’s soul.”
No event through the ‘90’s—the LA riots, the OJ Simpson trial, the waste of Bill Clinton’s talent and opportunities—nor any event in the first decade of the new century–the election of the wastrel George W. Bush and the scoundrel Dick Cheney, followed by 9/11 and the gutting of America–surprised me.
The evil of Gulf War I, manipulated by the Mephistophelian Bush-Baker-Scowcroft troika, was followed by the interregnum of the Clinton years. The evil of Gulf War II, diabolically sold to a grieving, fearful nation by the Mephistophelian troika of Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld, was followed by the interregnum of the Obama years.
Now we are about to visit the sociopath Donald Trump upon the world. Pundits, including those who supported the ‘war of choice’ against Iraq, are exclaiming, “How Could We?”
This is how, and this is why. The American people, misled by media and political elites certain of their exceptionalism, refused the requisite soul-searching after the evils of Bush-Cheney. And so we became a dead people. Now America cannot lead itself, much less the world.
By not risking his presidency for a higher principle than national interest, Barack Obama may well lose his legacy to a lowdown puppet of darkness. Obama played it safe and remained a rational nationalist when the world cried out for global leadership, and so he has helped pave the way for an irrational ultra-nationalist.
Humankind stands at a hinge of history. The question is: Can the psychological revolution begin to ignite before Trump kicks out the last strut of the old order?
In contrast with President Obama’s recent last address to the General Assembly, which was full of empty platitudes, reflect on John F. Kennedy’s words in the same hall in 1961: “Together we shall save our planet, or together we shall perish in its flames. Save it we can—and save it we must—and then shall we earn the eternal thanks of mankind and, as peacemakers, the eternal blessing of God.”