The world has a history of those with a peculiar ability to think clearly in a variety of ways. The most profound and lasting have been the spiritual seers often forming religions with us still today. We also have had more or less seemingly prescient historians, philosophers, literary figures and scientists. This continues to move down the scale of clear vision but up the scale of power to business leaders, politicians and finally to totalitarian authorities and those who support their rule.
During the time of the assassination of JFK, the problems in politics became more evident to most of my generation. Apparently, a leader trying to do the morally correct thing could be blatantly eliminated by one or more proponents with special interests. Murder necessarily implies, in our code, the ultimate in a self-serving nature.
During the Vietnam War, it became evident that philosophies of government -- communism, democracy, and parliamentary systems -- all could operate under the guise of being the better government. But these theories are not government at all. Instead, the techniques used to manipulate the perception and being of the American people -- statistical propaganda, fear promotion surrounding the other type of government, the suppression of free speech and the unjustified use of lethal force against the peaceful -- arose viciously.
In fact, what we despise about "communism" is a set of totalitarian practices promoted by the misuse of police in a police state. But we all do this to some extent, regardless of governmental type. In the 1960s and now, we redefine the scope of crime to undermine civil liberties and human rights. Therefore, the "communistic" elements in our country, as in others, have resided in the government itself.
Hence, in this confusion of truth, is the dilemma in our current police action. When we engage in over-policing our own country's people, how can we objectively police others? We are reluctant to examine both sides of an issue: Should we be doing it or should we not?
As to the "we should" side. First of all, we are not doing it, NATO is. So we can seek justification in consensus and there is international law to back us up.
The atrocities against a people despite repeated UN warnings and resolutions have continued and become abhorrent. We need a way of dealing with destructive dictators. In fact, we have not been aggressive enough as an alliance and, given the power differential, should expedite the job and remove this dictator from the harmed country immediately. Internationally, we should then try him and his helpers for their atrocities. Doing this fast will avoid initiating a broader conflict.
As to the "we should not" side. "It's none of our business." Let them fight it out themselves. We won't succeed. We will hurt civilians. We will start a war. Russia, a nuclear power still, is getting edgy. Why here when we didn't intervene elsewhere when worse atrocities were occurring? Congressional approval should take precedence over international treaties and UN resolutions.
When I weigh the scales of these two sides, here is my analysis: Atrocities in the world are everyone's concern. Because of its nature there is no isolation from totalitarianism because of its nature. We can succeed in eradicating this instance of abuse, although we can fail. War is unlikely if unity against wrong prevails. We should clearly state the facts of what our interests are in the situation. Global and personal. We might have had less global support of, and less personal interest in, previous situations. We should admit this and examine our motives. More and more, important problems in the world can only be solved by global cooperation and peace, and sometimes the global promotion of peace. Nationalistic designs, when not limited to concerns exclusive to our nation, can interfere with the resolution of global difficulties.
The reason we have such a hard time dealing with a little mean man is that we haven't worked out a system to deal with really big problems. Unrest, strife, abuse, war and dishonesty are big problems. But the really big problems are underneath, and we often hide from them. We can fool ourselves and say the worst problems, such as the need to eliminate our brothers and sisters, necessarily arise from a need to survive: using sort of a Darwinian excuse for not being able to do a better job for our world.
But the really big problems come from survival itself, the drive to existence we all have. These are problems like global crowding, the initial intensity of which we are beginning to see very tangibly. Global damage to individual environments, and the overall environment, deplete the means we may have to deal with other problems: starvation, poverty, unrest and war. Our biggest problem is being unable to apply our advanced resources to a common good. This is what we are really trying to work out a system for. This goal has to include everyone as much as is possible as long as we believe in humanity and its ability to evolve to a greater community.
"But how are you going to do that?!"
The systems envisioned are in place, just not accepted, not developing or changing enough, and not working well. First is the world body politic, the United Nations, which needs to develop to the point of international treaty cooperation on all levels important to peace and prosperity beyond short-term visions. Our crises points in global warming are predicted at 2010, 2030, and 2075, or thereabouts. We can't afford to wait to see who the next president is, Al Gore or Elizabeth Dole, before we decide on our environmental goals.
Second, we need to get our country's system to work in a way that enhances fast, efficient decisions and responses in all areas, and quick remedies or new responses to mistakes. This is not what happens now. We can't even update our Constitution when there is a call to end government sanctioned abuses. We still have a situation in which an uninformed majority can tyrannize a minority. Even more, we have powerful minorities, named special interests, attempting to help, to persuade, to control, and in some cases, to rule by the totalitarian standard.
Special interests will always exist while addressing global concerns, but should have no power to abuse guarantees that ensure life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness ... and the most freedom to individuals who do not hurt the life, liberty and pursuits of others.
To operate in such a framework requires a global intent based on common awareness. It requires the phenomena of the 100th monkey to take hold. When, on remote islands, one island of monkeys was taught by human beings to use a stick for opening coconuts, the ease of obtaining food increased. Squabbling and social disruption decreased. More amazingly, at a certain number of more knowledgeable monkeys, say the 100th, monkeys on the surrounding islands developed the technique spontaneously.
We have not reached that mark on world cooperation. Too many of us are still swinging through trees paying attention only to the exhilaration. Too many are desperate for enough food. Others are still intent on having all of the nuts.