Sunday, October 29, 2006

Comments- Checkmate?

Dear Reader

(Note: this in not a typographical error, I know there are only one of you!)

For some reason, comments were blocked on the "Checkmate?" post. So I wanted to include some. Not just because this person was really nice to me about my essay, but also because I would love to see some intelligent discussion sprout up somewhere.


Wow Alex,
That is a great little essay. Scary though. You raise some really important points. I don't want to even imagine a US that has drained its treasury fighting a losing battle that it has no choice but to fight; and I agree with you, this is a battle we have to fight. We can't morally, or safely, leave now. The solution? Again, I agree with your statement: "To me, it seems that we must stay, but turn control over to other nations: allowing, forcing even, the World to take a hand in helping us creating a stable Iraq." I think that our solution will come by some perhaps unforeseen force (a modern day Ghandi?) and/or by a carefully planned coalition of nations. While we have no control over the former, we can plan the latter. We can elect a new leader, who can humbly but with dignity, call an emergency meeting of nations to discuss this problem. The Middle East is a threat to many, and not just the United States. I'm not sure what the solution will be. But I think it will take more than what we can provide at this point. Clearly, our sophisticated weaponry was been virtually useless in controlling Iraq. A multi-nation approach is needed.

Your other point (which I have, admittedly, heard before) is also spot on. We HAVE to stop our reliance on oil. I still get upset just thinking about our current president's short sighted statement that he made years ago: "The American people deserve all of the oil that they want". How utterly small minded. We need our next leader to think beyond their own (and their friends') monetary concerns and plan for the future. I'm honestly not sure that a Republican candidate could do this. It will go against what they believe in: no big government, and free capitalism. But Capitalism will continue to do what's easy, not what's right. And without government incentives and oversight, it will be impossible to effect such a radical change in our fuel usage.

So, we are left with a need to work WITH the rest of the world, instead of in defiance of it, and we are also left with the crucial need to optimize a viable alternative to petroleum. Let's hope there is someone out there with the gut, smarts, and ingenuity to do the job.


PS. I couldn't find a "post a comment" spot after this article.


Alex said...


I was very grateful for the inspiration to write this essay and wrote back to my corrispondant:

I share your hope about the ultimate outcome, and I'm more optimistic today than I was Friday, because writing this essay has made me return to thinking about the Constitution, and what a marvelous tool it really is. It has taken a long time for it to kick in, and I don't want to be premature, but it would appear that in a couple of weeks, it will kick in, and that the system, off balance for a while, will begin to right itself again as it always seems to do in the end.

And that is where I get the most hope. The framers KNEW that, human nature being what it is, there would always be thoughtless passion AND greed in politics. They devised a system that overcomes this, even though they didn't think in terms of "blue" and "red"; and that system will, I think, in the end, force us back onto a path of diligent common sense and progress.

That, to me, is a happy thought.

Alex said...

B+ On My Essay?
I received an answer from my email corrispondant regarding his request for less partisan, more serious, thoughts on Iraq.

Holding back his name, I reprint it here:


I've read your essay.......and, as is often the case when I and my friends discuss issues -- which includes listening to one another -- I found that you and I are not in disagreement on the larger questions........................and have noticed that I've limped to the same conclusions as you (which lead to even more questions, the answers to which are similarly perplexing.

I will say this -- the extent to which you reflected on the questions, and attempted to find some rational solutions (which is difficult, given the chaos of war) -- leads me to believe that we can, and will, win this war (in Iraq and elsewhere) as long as Americans of passion, and compassion, lead the way....armed with integrity, discipline, and focus. Imagine what we could accomplish if "red" and "blue" were relegated back to crayon box, and people worked together to meet a common challenge.

I'm wandering. Didn't mean to.

I was thankful for your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Alex, you’ve risen to the challenge of trying to answer the big question - how DO we fix this? I often find myself wondering who “we” is when it comes to “fixing”.

When you sit at the table with others to talk about "solutions" and "fixes" and the like, productivity and efficacy depend on listening skills, humility, appropriately demonstrated strength (and I DO NOT mean the kind we've been seeing of late), and a global thoughtfulness. Is the U.S. going to come up with a leader who can set this tone at a meeting of nations? (Cue knight-in-shining-armor approach music)

While our nation is ready for change (hmm, maybe just some of us), the best we can hope for is that Ms./Mr. Good Enough runs for office and manages to get elected. Do we really then expect Our Hero to Do What Must Be Done? I’ve been conducting job interviews lately. You know who you’d like for the position, but you also realize that it is highly unlikely that they exist.

It will take a group of leaders to create real multi-national collaboration on issues. That seems an obvious enough point. Achieving that would be a miracle. As someone pointed out, our playgroup has narrowed considerably - the US has demonstrated such limited cultural consciousness. After all, we voted into Power (capital P) a man who not only reminds us on a daily basis how narrow minded we are as a nation, but broadcasts it liberally to the world. We mock him, but he is us. Our own internal divisions, as evidenced by partisanship, platform priorities and election outcomes scream that we are not a cohesive whole. Yet our posturing depends on the image of unity. I’m about to launch into my “we don’t unite to include, we unite to assimilate” rant so I should wrap this up…

We act and talk as if we secretly still think/ hope the U.S. can direct change. (Cue knight music again) Or that the U.S. is even an appropriate judge of what constitutes good change. Good constitutional bones or no, it's just not possible to do without more voices at the table.

Now that Halloween is over, (cue mall quality xmas muzak) I can ask Santa for what I really want for Christmas – a leader who is educable, who listens AND hears, and who encourages innovation and inclusion. I’m sure there are other qualities that would be necessary and useful, but this is my Christmas list, and that’s what I want. Oh, and a weekend away from all this craziness with my husband.