The tectonic plates shift?

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I grew up, as most of us did, in a world where the Cold War was a constant. In between the bouts of anxiety at times like Cuba or the deployment of Cruise Missiles, it was almost restful, if that’s not too odd a way of putting it. You knew where you were, who the bad guys were, and that we were the good guys; you could tell because no one much was taking huge risks with life and limb to climb the Berlin Wall to go their way. Sure, there were some leftists who saw it differently, but not even they were knocking at the door of the Soviet Embassy to say ‘let me in’. So, when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan (learning nothing from what had happened to the Brits when they did it in the nineteenth century) we rushed to help those fighting them – fellow called bin Laden even got a celebratory write up as a freedom-fighter. But it turned out the world was more complicated, and it turned out that the Cold War was not for ever, and as it receded into history, like a flood when the waters go, it left some odd stuff on the road. But we still assumed one thing, the USA, and NATO, were top dogs, we’d won and the world would be the safer for it. We could disarm a bit, spend less on the military, and concentrate on the stuff that really mattered, climate change. But history had not ended, and the tectonic plates are shifting. Our perceptions have not caught up, and unless they do, there will be hell to pay.

Old perceptions said that the USA could reset it relations with Russia and with the Middle East, but they seem to have blinded US policy makers to the reality we were now in a multi-polar world – and one where American perceptions of what mattered were not the only game in town. In this situation, a background in community organising was not the perfect cv for what was needed.

As it transpired it was not Obama’s old bogey – old white men – who held on to their religion and guns, about whom he really should have been worrying; nor was Islam quite what he’d been taught it was. It was the Shiite Muslims, who had collected quite a lot of our guns in Iraq, and who took their religion with lethal seriousness, we should have been worrying about. We read the “Arab spring” through the lenses of our secular preoccupations – liberal democracy was on its way we thought; the Islamists knew that ‘one man one vote’ might well give them a chance of power and took it in places like Egypt, and tried to in Syria. The Iranians, always happy to help their fellow Shiites, were happy to stir up trouble. The Russians, always happy to stir up trouble, added their bit too. Anything to distract us from the fact they’d just seized the Crimea and part of the Ukraine.

All this was clearly bewildering for our policy-making elites. This was not what they had trained for, this was not in their text-books or games. It looked as though the US was no longer the most powerful actor. That was because the tectonic plates were shifting. Power is often a matter of perception. In reality the British presence east of Suez was never very great in terms of armed forces. but the Powers of the region were frightened of British power, so they didn’t test that. When the Japanese did in 1941/2 the whole edifice collapsed at once – and not even Churchill thought it could be reconstructed. Obama has given the impression that America isn’t much interested in the rest of the world except as far as climate change is concerned, so the Chinese, the Russians and the Iranians have taken the cue. There’s no point having lethal power on the scale America has it if you are thought never likely to use it. No one thinks Obama will use it, and no one would believe him if he said otherwise.

Those in Europe – and America – who did not want the USA to be the world’s sheriff have gotten their wish. Hope they’re happy with it – many of us aren’t and want our sheriff back. But whether he comes back or not, if he does, he’s going to find the change in the tectonic plates hard to deal with. The landscape has changed, and unless our policy-makers come to terms with this, it is only going to get worse.

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About JessicaHof
Anglican Christian, evangelist, survivor, grateful

13 Responses to The tectonic plates shift?

  1. NEO says:

    Correct and to the point, dearest friend.:) xx

    One of two mutually exclusive outcomes to this, in my mind. The end of western civilization, or to use your analogy, the shoot-out at the OK corral.

    More than most, who we elect this year matters.

    Liked by 2 people

    • JessicaHof says:

      It is going to be crucial for our version of civilization.

      Liked by 2 people

      • NEO says:

        I think it will be, I doubt survival if we try for 4 more years, let alone 8.

        Liked by 2 people

        • JessicaHof says:

          Any more of the Obama style and the game is up I fear.

          Liked by 2 people

        • NEO says:

          Yep, so do I!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Amen! To the “multi-polar world” and what we Brit’s have swallowed for so long, and now has taken hold in America, i.e. “liberal democracy”! And Western Civilization is on the line! And if we believe our Judeo-Christian Bible, Modern Israel will surely be central in the Eschatological-End and reality, Zechariah 1: 18-21! The four world-empires (Dan. 2: 36-44 ; 7: 3-7)…from verse 20, perhaps Yahweh/Jehovah’s “four sore judgments,” the sword, famine, evil beasts and pestilence (Ezk. 14: 21), the four horses of Rev. 6! (Zech. 12 ; 13 ; 14) Both spiritual & literal, note verses 8-9 in Zech. 13! Oh the depth of verse 8: “And it will come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein.” Of course here is National Israel!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. *Zech. 14: 1-2, etc.

    Like

  4. Note, I believe like St. Paul (Saul) that GOD in Christ uses the Western world of the Greco-Roman and Jewish Hellenism, (Galatians 4: 1-7), noting especially verses 4 & 5! GOD is NO modernist as to Revelation!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Strictly speaking, I should have put a form of Jewish Hellenism before the Greco-Roman, but of course St. Paul was affected by them both! Paul was always a Jewish Hellenist and something of a Jewish-Christian Pharisee, together! (Acts 21: 39 ; 22: 3 ; 26: 4-5-6-7 -note here too, Acts 18: 28).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Paul’s Roman citizenship was no fluke in God’s purpose & providence! Paul was a Greek Jew (Hellenist) all the way!

        *Let me recommend the German theolog Bunther Bornkamn’s book here: Paul (Paulus), translated into English and published by Harper and Row (1971), 260 pages. Its not perfect, as Bornkamn (a student of Bultmann) did not believe in the Pauline Authorship of all of Paul’s Letter Corpus. I of course do believe ALL of what Paul penned in his name to be his Letters! (See, 2 Thess. 2: 2 ; 14-17).

        Liked by 1 person

        • PS…*2 Thess. 3: 14-17

          Like

        • And make that “Gunther” Bornkamn, I cannot type or think today? 😉 And also, I like many of the American theolog: Gordon Fee’s Pauline books, see for sure his Pauline Christology, etc. (2007 Hendrickson Pub.) Fee is still with us, though in his early 80’s.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: East of Eden | nebraskaenergyobserver

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