Squandered Opportunities and Looming Threats to Societies.
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The final area of lost opportunities centers the U.S. march to global leadership and the extent to which that leadership reflects national interests or global ones. Looking at the United States in terms of a “will-to-power” suggests that its claim to represent a larger humanity, dating from the time of George Washington, in fact shields a tight focus on augmenting national power. A comparison with the United Kingdom and its own idea of empire is informative in the context of today’s many challenges to the collective future of humanity: ongoing demographic changes and transborder movements of peoples; the nature of the social compact societies must embrace if they are to survive; the capacity of economic systems to accommodate that compact while generating promise for the complex future humanity appears to seek; the acceptance of humanity’s place in the earth’s ecology; the relationship among education, technology, and society; and our common security, including security conferred by the rule of law.
Chapter seven, using a redefined concept of security, suggests a possible last chance, for the U.S.
My approach here is primarily historical, with a focus on the linkage between domestic and international affairs. To explore those linkages, I have relied primarily on the positions and policies of decisionmakers, looking at presentations by presidents to Congress, for example, as well as on court decisions, international treaties, political memoirs, and political theoreticians and thinkers (Alexander Hamilton and Reinhold Niebuhr, for example). Failures to recognize national-inter-national linkages have often been cause for a mistaken separation of U.S. behavior from its consequences. On issue after issue, the U.S. rejection of proposals for changes, its failures to seize opportunities to improve national and inter-national society, have returned to haunt the nation and the world. There appears to be little understanding of this fact and little or no preparation to deal with any of the fundamental issues it raises. Hence the title: While America Sleeps.
The United States, because of the values which accompanied it birth and those it has espoused, coupled with the evolving socio-economic and political standing of its place in the world since World War I, has achieved much at home and abroad. It has, also, been faced with inadequately addressed problems—problems that have progressively festered and have now become threats to the very life of societies, national and global. Efforts to deal with some of them have erringly focused on personalities—specific presidents (Trump, for example); particular political parties; or identified events or movements (1960s radicals or far-Right extremists) rather than on rooted patterns that have shaped and reinforced institutions. The book looks at some of those patterns, in the areas of disarmament, economic development, race and class formations, popular culture, the environment, and the will to power. It then proposes some steps toward a possible course correction.