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The Initiative and Why We've Lost It
By Phil Sturm June 10, 2005

In the cutthroat world of geopolitics those who lag behind, stay behind. As the world becomes more and more technological, the shifts in power become quicker and more frequent. With the amount of new information added each day to the human mind, the job of "staying on top" becomes exponentially more difficult.

Why then, are we fighting the same old way? After World War II, the United States stood poised over the world stage having been the first to engage in nuclear brinksmanship. The other powers quickly caught up to us and before we knew it, it was no longer a simple fact that we were on top, it was a deadly contest. A contest we soon began to lose with the Soviet innovation of the space race. Luckily our capitalist framework allowed us to surpass them in this contest.

Today we are once again the last to the race. The European Establishment's slow and sluggish responses to our initiatives on the War on Terror aren't out of strident anti-Americanism. It is because the way we are doing things smacks of a game long played out in a tournament that has moved on. As much as Bush's words may hold comfort to us, that we will carry the war to them when we want, how we want, the fact remains that this is a war that started on their terms, in their time.

What are the Europeans doing? They're consolidating. They're slowly achieving economic security, reinforcing the real weapon of capitalism in a strong Union designed to enhance and promote domestic security while simply not playing a game they didn't design.

In contrast, the United States today is waist-deep in a game that can only hurt us. Every action we take has the real possibility of adversely affecting our economy; with every action they take actually doing so. Our enemies have us locked in a war of real attrition while everyone else passes us by. Oh they need us, of that there is no doubt. With America spending all the resources on securing Mid East oil for our economies why would they really, actually object? With America engaged in the war of attrition, why should they bother participating in any real way?

Our responses are traditional; nuclear diplomacy with rogue states, sanctions, conventional military actions and a dramatic increase of conventional military spending. Somebody started an entirely new ball game and here we are still playing by the old rules. The question today isn't even about whether or not the Iranians, Koreans, Indians or Pakistani have nuclear weapons. No, the question is now about how to contain those weapons, or take them away. We've already lost so much ground the nuclear paradigm has shifted and we aren't realizing the fact that we're losing, slowly and surely, due to a lack of diplomatic innovation.

As long as we keep playing a game we've already lost, the questions will become much more serious, much more threatening. I had some hope when Bush launched his Mars NASA initiative. Here we are, I thought, changing the game. In a new world where nuclear arms aren't exclusive, let us make them irrelevant.

We're sidelined now, most likely engaged in an Iraqi conflict our enemies almost certainly planned for, anticipated, and counted on. We're mired in this expensive project of democratizing the Middle East, sidelining the game we should be playing. As near-future projections show the cost rising to 300 billion dollars, Israel is calling for more of the same along with confusing double speak by our own Administration.

Bush's second term inauguration speech left some hope for us. It was generally peaceful talk, greatly toned down from the rhetoric that led up to the Iraqi conflict. Soon after, Vice President Cheney spoke a little tougher, a little more ominously. We're not counting out doing the same thing in Iran, he let us know, if it really came down to it.

Our enemy is smart. They have studied us for decades. They have worked silently for years noting our behaviors, our protocols and our responses. To think they have acted without these considerations is a risk we cannot afford to take out of some presumed national superiority complex. We have responded in the way we traditionally do, in a way they most likely predicted, and so have some modicum of control over us, no matter how much we're opposed to them.

We're playing by their rules in a game they have devised, fighting them for things we've already lost control over.

Copyright © 2005 by Phil Sturm

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