Arianna Huffington recently penned a eulogy for left-right dialectics, declaring them to be inadequate - going on useless - as a tool for political analysis in the 21st Century. Conversely, one of the better status reports on the US Republican party made pretty good use of it to send Sarah Palin and Pit Bull Romney to the penitential corner of our democratic classroom for an overdue time out.
Truth is, most of us have no trouble at all deciding whether a politician is a fiscal or social conservative. We are even pretty good at mixing the two. "Oh he's a (lower-taxes-no-matter-what) fiscal conservative, but he's an (innocent-children-of-immigrant-abortionists-might-need-welfare-for-a-while) social prograssive
The one that keeps us all stumped, however, is foreign policy.
Arianna Huffington's hunch from the middle is nearly correct, but she's still holding onto the fence a little.
You see, the further East we go, we find people are more protective of their privacy. Europeans might live next door to each other for three generations and never see the inside of their neighbour's living room or kitchen. Centuries of war and invasion have left them thinking that sovereignty is epitomy of peace and respect. They were so reluctant to internvene in Kosovo.
But as you travel further West, especially into George Bush and Dick Cheney's wild West where survival more recently depended on blurring those boundaries a bit, people don't need an invitation to charge into a neighbour's house to help extinguish a fire, or rescue an invalid, or punch a bully in the mouth for beating up his children. A certain amount of vigilante collective action has been more acceptable in the wild West as a way of dealing with both tyranny and tragedy.
If George W. Bush had stuck to those cowboy roots of his and simply belted Saddam Hussein one right in the kisser and walked away instead of proliferating such weapons of mass distrust, how differently might the world feel right now?
In fact, I bet Europeans and North Americans would be having a much more intelligent discussion about whether our species on this planet can succeed in dealing with global issues on a purely bilateral basis rooted in concepts of national sovereignty. Might we not agree that there are some issues facing the planet right now that warrant the occasional Neighborhood Watch type action where free people might nonetheless sometimes impose a minimun standard of decency when rogues threaten our children's right to a little peace and quiet?
That is where the confusion comes from, between left and right, between east and west, between Republicans and the Tea Party, and between Muslims and modernity.
The American Empire made a terrible mistake when they allowed their admirable penchant for wild west generosity to be co-opted and misused. Rather than keeping Neighborhood Watch strictly en garde, to be used solely on occasions of universally recognized brutality or disaster, they have twisted the meaning of 'freedom' and premptive deterrence into a missionary mandate to dictate self-serving terms for global commerce.
We keep hearing claims that a rogue minority have hijacked global Islam. Ok. What of global Christianity?
And there you have it. Collossal Weapons of Mass Distrust. (C-WMD)
Just when the world most desperately needs a trusted kind of global Neighbourhood Watch to lend a hand with environment, energy, female genital mutilation, and usurious international bond bandits... nobody trusts anybody.
That is the real legacy of the recent American Empire. Insufficient trust for humanity to collaborate on issues that simply cannot be resolved unilaterally or bilaterally.
Gawd forbid I should have to quote Hillary Rodham Clinton, but dammit, it does take at least a village!
As for my beloved Canada, we do have conservative politicians, mostly wed to the Bond and Data Bandits. Bad enough that they want to stop collecting census data lest that expose their weak policy arguments, now we learn they have knowingly shredded the final report on the Tar Sands?
In whom do we trust?.