Imagine if you will the coaches of championship Rugby, Soccer, and Football teams ignorant of the rules that govern each other’s game, knowing only that all of the games are played on a field with a ball. Their task is to develop a strategy to win a game coming up against an unknown team. All they know about the team is that sometimes they play on a field with a ball; but what the boundaries of this field are, they do not know, and, oh yes, the fans are the referees. Welcome to the war against terrorism.
Until we recognize that the rules governing the way people “make it to the top” in the different “sovereign” states with which we are aligned, are unlike our own, and from each other, we will continue trying to fish in the sand. Culture, commerce and politics are synergistic and as unique to the different nations of the world as is their geography.
Although rarely commented upon in our press, most of the countries of the world are aligned to one degree or another with each other in struggling to engage collaboratively on the issues of the world wide challenges of recession, global climate changes, and the threat from non-state controlled terrorist groups. Not one is openly hostile to these efforts, although each puts its own interests and agenda forward.
True, some of these states fund and back groups used as pawns to disrupt the peaceful functioning of other nations, seen parochially as enemies, either because of a history of injuries and enmities or political priorities. But even in those situations there is no consistency in the alliances that support them that one would expect to find.
There is, across the international board a commonality of co-joined anticipation and suspicion regarding the direction of our new administration. Unfortunately, neither the congress nor the media seem to recognize the reality of the cultural differences that shape the political and economic realities we face when bidding for extended collaboration. In pursuing the pretense that everyone in the world is at heart a good middle-class, middle of the road, hardworking individual who wants only what is good and fair for themselves and their family we narrow our discussion of goals and strategies to parades and cheerleading.
The irony, of course, is that we know that description fits neither our own history nor our own current state of affairs. Stories of corruption in politics and business appear every day in our newspapers and in the media. Corruption, like a weed, grows in every garden, whether it’s an historical Robber Baron, or yesterday’s Enron, or some other governor or congressman waiting to be discovered. We have our own trail of ethnic abuse and murder long and devious enough to require a repentance beyond anything resembling redemption.
Niether the political nor media Left and Right in this country is willing to yield its ideology to reality. Each prefers the costume of pure faith to the simple vulnerability of doubt and the promise of gradual change. The rules of the game they are playing are as rigid and unforgiving as any culture in the world and unless there is some appreciation of the reality they refuse to see, the change we and the rest of the world yearn for, may disappear into the annals of what might have been.