Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Mapping the Future

Instead of offering a commentary, Mark Hyman uses his latest “Point” to summarize some specific findings of the National Intelligence Committee’s report, “Mapping the Future.”

It’s interesting that Hyman, an avowed Bush supporter, would champion a report by this organization. After all, it is the NIC that told us several months ago that
the long term outlook in Iraq is bleak (possibly leading to civil war within a year), prompting President Bush to term the report a “guess.”

It’s also the organization that announced that
the war in Iraq had been a boon for Islamic terrorists, directly contradicting the Bush administration’s claims that the invasion of Iraq was a centerpiece of the “war on terrorism.”

Speaking of terrorism, “Mapping the Future” doesn’t see the “war on terror” ending anytime soon. The report says that while the major players might change, terrorism in general, and militant Islam in particular, will be alive and well in the year 2020. Of course, this is perhaps good news for an administration and its supporters who profit from the American people being in a constant state of anxiety. (Paging Mr. Orwell . . . Mr. George Orwell . . .).

Other than that, it’s not exactly clear what a supporter of the Bush administration would see as the up side of this report. Sure, there’s the stuff on how the United Nations must change or become obsolete, but that begs the question of why the United Nations isn’t the force it should be. Could it be because of a certain lone superpower that doesn’t pay its dues and an administration that thumbs its nose at the whole idea of the U.N.? The biggest change that needs to happen in the U.N. is for the United States to take an active and engaged role in its activities.

Moreover, even reading through the selected tidbits Hyman lists, one thing becomes clear: the future of the United States and much of the world will depend on America’s willingness to actively engage with the rest of the world. That’s not something this administration is good at, or even thinks is valuable (unless you define “actively engage” as “preemptively invade”). It will require the U.S. to actively consult with traditional allies, even when they might not agree with us (e.g., France). It will also require an ability to talk honestly with friends when they make mistakes that endanger themselves and others, regardless of the temptations to pander to domestic political interests (e.g., Israel). It will also require the U.S. to take a good look at who really is a friend and who isn’t, and base that decision on principle rather than short term economic interests (e.g., Saudi Arabia).

In short, it will take someone other than George W. Bush.

And that’s The Counterpoint.


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