Posts Tagged ‘American Identity’

Out of Crisis, A New US

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Every seventy-five years or so America endures a period of crisis that lasts from twelve to seventeen years. They include both profound economic and security effects that put the country at leviathan levels of risk. The founding of our country was itself a period of crisis; later was the Civil War and Reconstruction, and in the twentieth century the Great Depression and World War II. The current period of crisis in now three years old – marked by the date our capital markets began to realize they were standing in the quicksand of credit default swaps secured by vapor and hubris. I would argue we are far from seeing the depth of the current crisis, nor are we even near a midpoint. It would be ahistorical to predict otherwise. We have yet to even see the axe of conflict fall. No, 9/11, Iraq, and Afghanistan don’t count – at least not yet, although they probably provide the framework for much wider conflict with many more actors involved. I remain convinced that our capacity to start and perpetuate war far exceeds our ability to end it. The preposterous realization that we are unable to even define what a ‘win’ is, is all the evidence anyone needs to defend that claim. Be that as it may, my intent here is not to debate the dilemmas that face policymakers and provide fuel for Gadarene punditry today; rather to explore what historians will later observe with the crisis behind them, as they write the inevitable story of how American identity was changed forever (or at least until the next crisis in around 2095). If we are smart, we will write a different future than historians might expect. But we better wise-up soon.

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