Friday, April 14, 2017

Deja Vu All Over Again

These days I can't help feeling like I am living in a 21st century re-enactment of the 20th.  The post-WW2 security structure that gave peace to a bloody continent during the Cold War is fracturing.  Nation states are erecting border walls and checkpoints to keep out "the Other" and asserting their uniquness and superiority over "lesser" beings from other countries.  Nations with large, well-armed militaries are growling and threatening each other.  It's kind of like Groundhog Day but the replay is August 1914.

But the situation is not simply a rerun of an earlier war.  This is the 21st century and, true to form, events are running toward the apocalyptic.  Nuclear weapopns aren't new but in Donald Trump's hands they haven't seemed so threatening since Ronald Reagan.  On the off chance that we don't obliterate ourselves in a nuclear holocaust, simply living on this planet will become a far more challenging proposition because of climate change.  Millions will become environmental refugees in a world that is already hostile to refugeesCompetition for critical resources will create more war and conflict.

And in the middle of all of this is the United States of America.  Hero-nation of the mid-20th century.  My home.  My country.  But looking objectively at the US in the current century, I don't see anything heroic.  The US has been at war or intervening in other nations throughout my seven decades on this planet, continuing a history that dates to the nation's founding.  We are the leading, arms merchant to the world.  Now we have Donald Trump brandishing America's massive nuclear arsenal to demonstrate his manhood.

Not content to just continue America's history of militarism, Trump and his minions are actively monkeywrenching the world's efforts to understand and deal with climate changeDenying the science, withdrawing America from active participation international agreements and eliminating  climate change research and mitigation programs while simultaneously promoting fossil fuels looks isn't outright aggression but coming from a major player, it can reasonably be seen as a threat.

Seen from that perspective, the United States looks uncomfortably like a danger to other nations, either from our militarism or climate change denial.  August 1914 set off a chain of events that lasted thirty years and brought incredible violence to the world.  If this is a replay, I don't feel especially confident about my country's role in the drama.

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