We are the United States, a country driven by greed and mad for power. Risk is our watchword. We have firmly embraced “no pain, no gain” as though there were no alternatives. And yet we also seek to be safe in our lives, secure in our future and our fortune, and free to do as we please. As much as we tout risk, we also seek to remove risk from our day-to-day lives. Safety is our watchword. We want to have our cake and eat it too. We are a sad society; brash, young, uncertain of what we want and even less sure of how to get it. We could abandon the roller coaster we live on but we refuse to get off the ride. We are adrenaline junkies.
The preceding paragraph is rife with the clichés often heard to explain the political risks that our young nation chooses to take. We endanger the lives of our citizens because we believe that some all-powerful entity is on our side. We are not alone in our rash belief in an almighty god. We are alone in our belief that we are his favored nation. Overall this is an odd stand for a nation that requires separation of church and state to protect religious freedom (including the right to be free from religion).
Politically, we have chosen to play a game of risk. To throw the dice and risk our economic and political future on chance. The rolls of the dice so far have not been favorable. We initiated two wars that drain our nations resources. We have stripped our economy of protective regulations which have led to runaway inflation and corporate failures due to unchecked greed. We have dumbed ourselves down. Shooting first and asking questions later just doesn’t work in a connected world.
The smart choice is diplomacy. There are those who claim that diplomacy doesn’t work. True diplomacy always works because everyone walks away with their pride intact. What doesn’t work is the game of risk disguised as diplomacy. Playing poker isn’t diplomacy. Bluffing leads to mistrust and a winner take all attitude leads to hurt feelings followed by anger. It’s fine if everyone agrees to the game, understands the rules and is willing to risk it all; but it is politically foolish.
The best diplomat looks for the win-win, the compromise that benefits everyone. For example, we know Iran is building nuclear power plants but we have concerns that they are also building nuclear weapons. We can continue to issue ultimatums on the subject and continue to alienate a potential ally in the region; or we can allow their nuclear program to continue as long as there is supervision by nuclear experts from the US, France and Russia – all nations with much experience in nuclear power systems. We recognise their sovereignty, offer help, and gain oversight without making threats or denying their needs. It is obvious that, for an oil-producing nation, crude oil puts food on the table. It is their most valuable resource, their “cash crop”, and they have decided to stop burning their money.
As a nation, we need to conquer our xenophobia and engage other nations in meaningful conversation. It’s time to put our arrogance aside and cut our losses.