Feel good, wage peace
We are a “feel-good” society, which is why we over-consume out of habit and when we feel anxious, isolated, impotent, ashamed and unloved. The 2006 election was not a mandate for withdrawal from Iraq so much as a desire for a withdrawal from our unease in the situation we now find ourselves. Except for the rare true pacifist, our willingness to use force and deadly force appropriately does not seem to be the issue – when we think we are winning. We are not a country at war. As Thomas L. Friedman said, we are fighting on the cheap with our little pinkie, and, true to insanity and dysfunction, we want a different outcome without having to pay the price, especially of changing our own behavior.Because we are a “feel-good” society, I am confident we will get it right, perhaps, as Winston Churchill said, after we have tried everything else. Meanwhile, the future of our security and prosperity is at risk. Not because, as George Soros said, it is impossible to win a “War on Terror,” but because we have not yet come to terms with what it will take to “Win the Peace.” In the rapid acceleration of Globalization 3.0, we have no inspiring grand strategy for our Departments of State, Defense, Homeland Security and our American psyche. Without a strategy that ensures and extends our value and right of all to the “feel-good” life through a free and open society, we lose our standing in the world; we allow the body count to go up in Darfur; our vets are spit upon by some instead of all being treated as heroes like firemen, police officers and rescue workers (see the film “The Ground Truth”); and hurricanes paralyze us in the face of our unreconciled prejudices.As an activist for peace, human rights and the environment, I now offer the vision of Thomas P. M. Barnett, author of “The Pentagon’s New Map: War and Peace in the 21st Century.” According to Barnett, about two thirds of the world’s population lives in the “Functioning Core” (largely enjoying peace and prosperity), which is actively integrating their national economies into a global economy through the increasing flows of trade, capital, ideas and people while adhering to an emerging set of security rules. The other third lives in the “Non-Integrating Gap” (mostly subject to repressive regimes or violent conflict and poverty), which is largely disconnected from the global economy and the sets of formal and informal rules that define its stability. Obviously, there are pockets of the Gap in the Core and vice versa. Barnett says “eradicating disconnectedness is the defining security task of our age, as well as a supreme moral cause in the cases of those who suffer against their will … and by expanding the connectivity of globalization, we increase peace and prosperity planet-wide” – we make globalization truly global for the benefit of all.Barnett divides the role of the U.S. military into the “Leviathan,” the 5 percent that wages war with its incomparable capacity for high-precision major combat operations which also functions as a major deterrent around the globe. The “System Administration,” the other 95 percent, wages the peace through post conflict reconstruction, humanitarian, disaster relief, small crisis response and other than war military operations; and by providing civil security policing and civilian personnel with expertise for rebuilding networks, infrastructure, and social and political institutions; which is envisioned as a standing capacity for U.S. interagency and international collaboration in nation building. Not only do the Leviathan and the System Administration require the support of America, but so do the rulers that govern them, while holding all accountable.Rumsfeld and Bush have won the war and have been losing the peace. Patreaus and Clark get most of it; Hillary and McCain get some of it; Obama’s team has been meeting with Barnett to get it; and the Echo Boomers are wired to get it. Are we willing to do what it takes to close the gaps between the haves and have nots by integrating the Gap at home and abroad? I advocate that we raise and spend more time, energy, money and will now for education, health care, energy alternatives, scientific and technological R&D, and, yes, for community policing and our military to wage and keep the peace. “War is over, if we want it” – John Lennon and Yoko Ono.Tricia McKenzie is an Aspen resident and co-founder of Colorado Communities for Justice and Peace. Editor’s note: Soapbox runs weekly on the Sunday opinion page. This spot is a forum for valley residents to comment on local topics. If you’d like to contribute, contact Naomi Havlen at The Aspen Times at 925-3414, ext. 17624 or e-mail email@example.com.
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Columnist Roger Marolt is learning to hold his breath longer during these hot, dry summers, he writes.