Friday, October 25, 2013

Over-reach by the state does not provide safe and secure cultures in which to grow our kids and grandkids

Is there a creeping worm among the political class, or it is just that several forces are converging simultaneously, or maybe both?
There is a kind of frightened over-reach that we see in too many political decisions, actions and their negative repercussions. Drone attacks from the U.S. are killing far too many innocents to provide a clean, effective scorched earth approach to the terrorist threat. Spying by national security agencies has reach far too deeply into the private phones/lives of far too many individuals and leaders that it is threatening long-standing relationships of trust. And third, there is a kind of zero tolerance policy and approach to misdeeds, especially to those misdeeds that embarrass political leadership, resulting in a kind of over-reach of power when it comes to discipline. In effect, there is no discipline process, just what my Russian professor of Comparative Education used to call the "Russian method" of elimination of the problem. And of course, the mis-steps and disdeeds of those in power are so micro-reported that we lose sight of their long-term import.
The U.S. model of leadership has been allowed to inflict itself on the world community for far too long. While there is a modicum of perceived security in being able to threaten to "blow up" whomever might disagree with the U.S. policy, there is also a very dangerous kind of "gun-boat-morphing-into-cruise-missile-or drone-or-cyber-invasion" kind of diplomacy that would put any reasonable ally on guard. The mere existence of and the worship of military approaches, as the backdrop to governance, has the extreme capacity to limit our options, and the options of those who oppose us. Power, in the hands of the state, has to be  both monitored and modestly administered, if we are to live in a world that is not threatened by too many potential sparks of conflict, and the kind of culture that breeds those sparks.
We do not live on the "set" of some video game, nor on the "set" of some movie production studio. We live on a fragile planet, with ecosystems and balances that we seem to believe, or at least act as if we believe, can be thwarted by our collective and individual narcissism. We are not supremely powerful, nor should we either wish or expect to be, and yet, more and more public responses from political leaders attempt to creep over whatever modest lines of execution that we might expect them to require in order to do their job.
The treat of annihilation has faced the state of Israel since its inception. It is the proverbial and the archetypal victim-orphan-target of many who simply believe that its existence is unacceptable. And, although heavily armed, the threat does not go away.
Is that the kind of model that we are moving toward for all other countries on the planet...that there are enemies everywhere who seek to obliterate other countries in order to exercise their own power?
If it is, and if it is not stopped, then the terrorists will not have to devise any more IED's, or strap any more underwear bombs to their bodies, or enlist to become suicide bombers because they will have already unleashed so much fear that their mission has already crippled too many significant national and international decisions.
Are we, in effect, watching the creeping decay of over-reach that accompanies the already extant neuroses and psychoses that are especially prevalent among those who seek and who need positions of power?
Merkel is right to be publicly hostile to any attempt to spy on her cell phone. And the implications of such activity can only impede progress to peace and security for us all. And over-reach in one capital is now justification for over-reach in another, given the shrinking world and the 24-7-365 seepage of snippets of undigested and random pieces of information...and the picture that emerges is not one of hope and trust, but one of the increasing deployment of hard power, and the kind of "management" that can only be described as "tyrannical" given the "boiling-frog" evisceration of anything that resembles "due process"....
And we are all the lesser for having watched in silence as this process has invaded our political culture and discourse.

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