Myself, I’ve never found that repeating the actions that got me into a bind in the first place, does much to get me out of the bind. Sticking with what works is usually good – sticking with what hasn’t worked, doesn’t make sense. And this just me, I know some folks don’t like change, and that’s their personal call.
Gwynne Dyer, WAR (1985) tell me that the first time in human history that 5,000 (plus) men ever came together in the same place at the same time, it was to wage war. This was around 3,500 years ago. Interestingly enough it was in Levant – interestingly enough it was at Mageddo (often rendered in English as Armageddon, a name derived from the Hebrew "Har Megiddo"). I don’t know that Dyer is spot on in saying that this was the first time that 5,000 got together and waged war, but I’d say industrial-scale warfare (as opposed to lesser battles) has been around for at least 3,500 years.
Some might say that 3,500 years of large-scale war shows we should give it up – it hasn’t solved anything. I’m thinking it shows that war is something that it has been with us for a long damned time and is likely going to be with us for a long damned time to come.
But I also know that history shows us that war is not the only answer. History shows us that solutions can be reached through other means. The Hundred Years War lasted as long as it did mostly because some interest groups profited from it and that made them slow to explore other options to reach a settlement. The Thirty Years War likely would have burnt itself out in less than a decade if outside powers had not intervened for their own reasons and added fuel to the fire to keep it going.
History is full of war and conflict. Wars probably get the most ink because negotiated settlements are just so damned boring to read about. But nonetheless, history is replete with negotiated settlements; cases in which folks explored options and found ways to make things work without killing each other. And just about every war in the book ended with folks sitting down and drafting a treaty to end it.
We’ve been killing people in the Near East and Western & Central Asia, either on our own or through proxies, for longer than I’ve been alive – and we don’t seem any closer to wrapping it up than we were when I was a kid. Right now I’m so disgusted with the mess we’ve help create that if it were up to me, I’d say screw it and withdraw from the entire region. That would likely give us a generation of breathing space while they killed each other, before we’d have to deal with the survivors.
Do I have solutions? Not for the problems that plague the world – not even for the problems that plague the Near East and Central Asia. But it seems to me there are some things we could do to better prepare our Nation to deal with our own issues – maybe that would give us shot at dealing with the Outside. So, this is about the best I can come up with. #5 is probably the item that we need to address most urgently.
1. Stop relying on solutions that created the problem in the first place.
2. Realize that there are still places in the world were blood feuds are a fact of life. Know that causing a death can incur a multi-generational obligation to “right the wrong.”
3. Understand that other people believe just as strongly as we do that their religion, culture, life ways are correct and proper.
4. Understand that people who have very low standards of living are sometimes ready and willing to die/kill for what seems to us to be little or no reason. This is as true of inner city young men who die/kill for turf and respect as it for suicide bomber who die/kill for the jihad.
5. Understand that sound bytes and partisan rancor do not help our Country to address any of the problems we face, foreign or domestic.
6. Understand that many of the problems we and the world face will require decades, perhaps centuries to resolve – running foreign policy on a 4-year election cycle is not likely to work well.
7. Understand that the United States cannot solve every problem in the world. Understand that there are instances when we need allies / coalition partners and that we may not be able to dictate to these partners. We may not always be able to supply the answers and we may not always have the correct answers.
Etc & etc. I wish I actually had a plan that could be implemented today – one that had a chance of succeeding. But even if someone came up with the greatest plan ever, likely as not nothing would come of it if it didn’t involve blaming all the problems on someone else ; -)