The Baby Boomers: we now find ourselves approaching the exit side of the revolving door. But, we didn't just enter the theater as passive viewers. Rather, we heartily participated in, and directly influenced the most spectacular of all shows -- life.
A generation of astonishing idealists who brought about the Civil Rights Movement, the feminist movement and anti-establishment in one of the country’s most influential cultural eras, we are the possessors of wisdom and the harbingers of hope.But, we must also claim some of the most infamous events in history, such as the new endless wars of Iraq and Afghanistan, with all the accompanying inhumanity of watching people starve and die from health issues as we spent
trillions on the machinery of war.
Somewhere, among the maelstrom of these glorious and inglorious events, we also moved from living in harmony with Mother Nature to killing her. Instead, we basked in endless and pointless consumption amid our comfortable indifference in middle class America -- growing deaf to the remonstrances at our abandonment of idealism.
Distorting idealism and ideology, we've spun a dangerous culture of exceptionalism and in the process have alienated much of our neighborhood -- domestic and international alike.
Maclom Fraser, Australia’s prime minister from 1975 to 1983, an idealist in his own right as an international statesman in the fight against Apartheid in South Africa, had some concerning words we would do well to consider. In his latest book, “Dangerous Allies,” Fraser voices his concern of Australia’s (as well as other Pacific nations) alliance with the U.S.
A partial synopsis of his book:
Dangerous Allies examines Australia's history of strategic dependence and questions the continuation of this position. It argues that international circumstances, in the world and in the Western Pacific especially, now make such a policy highly questionable. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the United States has also changed dramatically, making it less relevant to Australia and a less appropriate ally on which Australia should rely.
Also, in 2010, after WikiLeaks exposed a “secreted agreement” between the U.S. and Kim Beazley, Australia’s opposition leader, regarding the Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty (ANZUZ).
The US is the predominant military power but there are practical and effective limits to the use of that power. The US has not given enough attention to diplomacy and multilateral arrangements. These are the effective means of establishing a secure world… Our political leaders need to learn to look at long-term realities. The decline in American economic power has already begun and cannot be reversed without an economic revolution of which the US is not capable. China's economic rise will continue. America's superior military power will endure probably for decades, but its limitations in pursuit of its national objectives will increase.
Fraser was not insinuating that Australia and others should find new allies. Rather, they should be concerned about their complete adherence to U.S. foreign policy and the willingness of the U.S. to forgo rational debate and diplomacy with other nations in favor of war-at-will and bullying her allies to follow the program. He is saying we can no longer compete economically, so we resort to military power.
With this sobering fact, is there any wonder our defense budget is higher than the next fifteen nations combined?
Many will ask: Who cares what Australia thinks?
My response: How better to judge ourselves than through the eyes of others?
This is not just about what Australia thinks; it’s a synopsis of how the rest of the world now sees the U.S., and that is a supremely disturbing thought.
When I witness the horrific behavior of our nation’s leaders, I can’t help but recall the intense fears instilled in us in the mid-20th Century and I worry that the tables have turned.We're taught to vilify China and the Soviet Union/Russia as evil communists for establishing satellite nations, ravenously absorbing all humanity in some duplicitous, nefarious scheme as we build our own satellite nations around the globe.
We mock thriving socialist countries whose economic successes often far surpass those of our own, while few understand the profound influence of socialism in our own economy.
Adopting an aggressive version of Wilsonian Idealism, many of our elected officials, perhaps more elitist than polyarchist, have embedded such deep foreign antagonism across the globe that they pose far more danger to our way of life, indeed even our very safety, than any foreign interest could dream of accomplishing.
The very idealism we forged in the Boomer generation seems to have come home to roost, but the messenger pigeon is no longer ours. Rather, the bird has donned new feathers and taken to the skies from those who have capitalized on deep-rooted idealism and turned it into extreme ideology.
Operating on our fears, they compelled us to shut our eyes for a fleeting moment and grew into the monster under the bed. Only when we re-engage our commitment to representative government -- at the polls, in our words, and in our actions -- in a fashion independent of partisanship will we understand that monster was but apathy and inattention.