Catching Up With History

Author: Gary Hart

While some are talking loudly and long about cutting government spending, it is doubtful they will discuss cuts in a $40 billion plus annual “intelligence” budget.  This despite the fact that our intelligence services and our far-flung diplomatic network failed to foresee the historic upheaval now underway throughout the Western end of the Muslim world.

There is at least an even chance that we are now entering a rare cycle of history that may take twenty to thirty years to resolve itself, with autocracies giving way to fragile democracies that in turn will evolve into radical fundamentalist regimes (think Iran), and possible civil wars.  For the world’s greatest super power this is a quandary.  It is an even greater quandary when that super power depends for a quarter of its oil imports on supplies from that region.

From the beginning of the Cold War we adopted a policy (some called it political realism; I call it unprincipled expediency) described as “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.  Thus, regardless of how repressive and anti-democratic a potentate might be, if he was anti-communist he was our friend.  We gave dozens of these types a lot of money and political support even though it was used to build up security services that locked up and tortured anyone who quoted our Declaration of Independence in the national square.

Curiously, we failed to notice that everyday people in these countries remember these things.  Then when they summon courage to take to the streets and demand freedom, we express surprise that they do not like us and reject our embrace.  This has happened in country after country and now in a vital region that encompasses a billion and a half people.

If we believe what we claim to believe and if we truly mean to stand on the principles embodied in our Constitution, we are going to have to do better than this.  That is if we truly want to stay in the vanguard of history and not try to merely catch up to it as it disappears over the horizon and leaves us behind.

11 Responses to “Catching Up With History”

  1. Gary Hart: Catching Up With History » Grubbyhub Blog - Get Your Latest Info Here! Says:

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  2. Wm Scott Pappert Says:

    Sen. Hart,
    I agree with the general thrust of your argument. The contradiction for the US though lies in the fact that it has used authoritarian regimes for expressed anti-democratic purposes like rendition and torture (both of which have escalated in recent years) and rationale for an escalating military presence worldwide. As covered by Al-Jazeera, many people in the streets of Egypt were using the principles of American democracy (freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, access to jobs, food, etc) against Mubarak (who some sources claim has amassed a multi-million dollar fortune from being America’s partner). We should not be so naive to believe that subversive forces in the region will not use this crisis in the future to establish anti-democratic radical fundamentalism but we should also not be myopic about what the US’s undemocratic presence has promulgated. This is a very crucial time in American and world history indeed. It will be incumbent upon the global community, especially the US, EU, and UN to help shape what grows there. And as Tom Friedman writes in today’s NYTimes, Israel would help it’s cause as well as the cause for stable government’s tilting toward democracy in the ME if it chose to negotiate now in moving to settle the Palestinian issue.

  3. Gary Hart: Catching Up With History | Liberal Media Books Says:

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  4. Neal Taslitz, Esq. Says:

    As you once said: “This is going to be a long century.”

  5. Nancy Lee Says:

    Will our deficits prevent the continuation of this foolish policy?

  6. Christine Gallo Says:

    After reading your blog tonight, Sen Hart, I wonder if we, too, will be taking part in the “30 year cycle”; will our plutocracy give way to a fragile democracy?

  7. Gary Hart: Catching Up With History | NewsMobius Says:

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  8. Jeff Simpson Says:

    Instead of spreading our influence with benevolence and by example, we have shown much of the world our hypocrisy, our bullying, and our inability to reign in the economic interests. Our unfettered and unregulated capitalism has allowed the pursuit of profit to prevail over truth and justice. We are now beginning to reap that which we have sown, as regrettable as that may be for all those with no direct culpability. The days of the dollar functioning as the world’s reserve currency are numbered. Goodbye dollar, hello yuan.

    The value of the dollar used to be carefully guarded by the Fed, but removal of gold backing of the dollar allowed us to increase the money supply and therefore pump more liquidity into the economy. 40 years later cracks are beginning to appear in the edifice that had been so carefully constructed by the depression-savvy generation.

    The time to act is now, but forces of disinformation interested in preserving the status quo to allow one more bubble cycle will likely result in political paralysis. Getting the money out of politics would be a good first step to put the US back on the path to stability, prosperity, and international justice.

  9. homer9 Says:

    I agree, and i want to mention that i was sorry u didnt continue run for president

  10. Catching Up With History « Flexible Reality Says:

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  11. Jean L. Bergeron Says:

    Americans have never been known to excel in diplomacy and neither in envisioning political situation. It is always based on narcissistic concepts and their association with Israel. There are never any novelties in their approaches and your article is reflecting this lack of knowledge. You have age, you have lost brain plasticity, it is obvious, and what you are stating is the continuum of the american bla bla, a somehow an alzeimer discourse, irrelevant to the young futuristic generation.

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