To See Ourselves As Others See Us

The slug of the thought-provoking piece by polymath Irvin Studin at GlobalBrief is:

Will America survive this century? How can it channel its most brilliant qualities and suppress its worst pathologies? What has it still to teach the world, and what must it learn to learn?

which you may notice echoes some of the themes I’ve been touching on here lately. Read the whole thing—it defies meaningful excerpting. He ends on a highly gloomy note:

We can be certain that, with China – geographically far closer to the US and continental North America than Washington or New York might imagine – returning to the strategic centrality and confidence it enjoyed before the Opium Wars that preceded the American Civil War in the 19th century, with the melting of the Arctic bringing Russia immediately to the borders of North America, and with today’s and tomorrow’s military and industrial technology making the US eminently ‘reachable’ – even by smaller powers, in the context of conventional warfare, asymmetric warfare and warfare by other means – there will be conflict on American soil in a foreseeable future.

Will America be clever enough to anticipate, avert or otherwise thwart (emerge victorious from) such conflict? That much, again, is not obvious at the time of this writing. The incurious bombast of present-day Americana does not bode well. Much will depend on whether the US is able to improve hugely its analytics and – as part of its capabilities – its strategic and political judgement. And if it does not, then America’s reaction, pre-emptive or retaliatory, to any surprising violation of its unique exemption from the world’s most terrible conflicts will be exceedingly ferocious – several orders of magnitude greater than the response to the discrete attacks of 2001.

Who knows what the world would look like the day after such a series of exchanges? What would America itself look like, if it were to survive at all? A curious possible end to the most brilliant and productive of modern countries would not be so shocking in the historical scheme of things… Of course, it could well be largely avoidable, in this same historical scheme of things…, if only this same country could bring itself to ask the right questions. Or to ask questions at all.

His perspective is interesting but I think it reflects a preoccupation with Russian points-of-view. I agree that “conflict on American soil” is incresingly likely. It may already have started and it’s likely to be street-to-street rather than facing foreign invaders.

2 comments… add one
  • TastyBits Link

    I think most people are not seeing the larger picture. It may be all doom and gloom for the US. It is more likely sunshine and roses, or at least, better than the rest of the world.

    If China is not in a financial collapse, it will be shortly, and if Europe is not in a recession, it will be shortly.

    I missed the “Hate America First” discussion, but “Make America Great Again” does not mean turning back the clock. Nobody wants radios and B&W televisions. Nobody wants unairconditioned cars and houses. Nobody wants landlines and prohibitively priced long-distance. Nobody wants Pong and Space Invaders. Nobody wants …

    What people want is a time when financial wealth did not distort the wealth distribution. People want affordable healthcare. People want manufacturing jobs. People with manufacturing jobs want union protections. People want pay-one-price airline tickets. People want …

    It is tragic that de jure segregation was replaced by de facto segregation, and the same people who wanted an end to legal segregation are fine with the de facto type. Schools and children, don’t you know.

  • Andy Link

    A good friend sent me this – it’s required for the German class she’s taking. I think it’s from the late 1980’s. Most of it seems to stand the test of time, but I think some things have changed or are changing:

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