From Doc Searls

Reconstructive suggestions.

In this morning’s New York Times, Thomas Friedman busts the Pentagon for the obvious:

The Bush Pentagon went into this war assuming that it could decapitate the Iraqi army, bureaucracy and police force, remove the Saddam loyalists and then basically run Iraq through the rump army, bureaucracy and police.

Wrong. What happened instead was that they all collapsed, leaving a security and administrative vacuum, which the U.S. military was utterly unprepared to fill.

So Kevin Jones has good idea:

You know what I think we should do? Send the guys who created Burning Man over to iraq. They build a better society than the one they left behind every year out in the desert and then burn it down, cuz it’s not about stuff or money. It’s about creating your reality. And you can create a good one. A just one….

He also provides some helpful reminders:

The Venetian empire lasted for 500 years as a world power even though, or maybe because, they were founded on a fragile series of islands in a marshy lagoon. They were able to do it because 1. They knew they pissed in the pool from which they drew their drinking water and which they used as their principle defense. And 2. They were able to subordinate the display of the male ego into actions that benefited society as a whole; ‘I will show you my power with this new library,’ ‘oh yeah, I will build a new gallery and hospital’…. men’s need to strut was channeled, so the boys strutted like roosters in their clearly bounded preening pens and society flourished.

Second, the Dutch trading empire prior to William of Orange had perfected the highest profit and lowest cost international trade of any empire because they figured out how to respect the others they were encountering and do business in a way that both sides found satisfying so that their military expenditures were much less. They were the only ones the Japanese would do business with. Interestingly, these two intelligent empires were both resource constrained, so they compensated with life giving social structures.

The thinker who unsuccessfully lobbied for the Dutch to hold onto their trading IP as a competitive, but ollaborative, differentiator while ceding military power to the rising British empire was Hugo Grotius (1583-1645). He is credited as the founder of international law, which grew into the Hague.

We are an empire. You can have a good empire, with enlightened use of soft power. It’s happened a few times in history. We need to make it happen again. Burning Man demonstrates the kind of civil-society-building power we could couple with our military power. We can’t back away from being the world’s dominant global power. But we can use all the kinds of power at our disposal to bring about the world we need to create in order to survive or maybe I should say ensure our mutual survivability.

Clearly speaking loudly and carrying the biggest stick isn’t doing the job.

[The Doc Searls Weblog]

While I am trying to remove myself from the “It’s all that right wing conspiracy’s fault” sort of mentality (It is so hard to do;-), I liked Doc’s little article. As with so many of our problems we see today, whether they are of our own making or not, require a third way. The big stick path of the right will not work for long. The whining of the left does not solve anything, either. We need to create a new path, a new approach to solving these problems. It will happen, because the tools are there, they only have to be used properly. I would like us to be the ones to use them.