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'The Dream Warriors'
'The Dream Warriors'
One ramification of the American specialization society is that each narrow silo of expertise seeks to interpret and explain phenomena within the narrowcast prism of its shared vernacular and the developed neural pathways of training and cognition. This leaves us as a society potentially vulnerable to and ill-equipped to explain broad ideological developments — think of the blind encounter with the trunk, leg, tail, etc.
The elephant? The Administration as the first Post Modern ideological phenomenon in American experience. By Post Modern, we mean the specific and technical appellation of embrace of irrationality, romanticism and myth.
Across the board we see the Administration's pursuit of a Post Modern agenda — from foreign policy, law and regulation, science and technical policy, finance. And a Post Modern Power ultimately places value in controlling psychological narrative over objective, on-the-ground empiricism. Thus Katrina, Iraq, etc. are not mere crises of 'competence' but emblematic of Post Modern Power.
The narrow silos of American experience and specialization such as foreign policy, defense policies, law, etc. have each sought to explain and debate the Administration within their vernacular and experience base. Not surprisingly, the explanations failed and the debates lacked impact. Most importantly, each silo failed to recognize the Post Modern phenomenon as a generalized challenge.
No one has asked the question: 'Can America succeed as a Post Modern Power?' So it naturally goes unexamined and unanswered. As do corollaries such as 'What are the costs?'
The most blatant example of this is foreign policy of course. There, informed opinion as represented by a figure at The National Interest insists in 2006 that the debate over American Power must occur within the choice of 'Realist' or 'Neocon' — there can be no third way (see Feb. 20th item). Gvosdev is not alone. Wilkerson, Pillar and others do the same when analyzing the Administration: assuming the interpretive prism of their experience defines the debate — and thus it is no suprise that their solution is more of what they know — increased and 'reformed' bureaucratic processes. What unites Gvosdev, Pillar and Wilkerson is that all of them do not realize the implications of a Post Modern view of American Power.
Similarly, the Rumsfeld pursuit of a Post Modern agenda at OSD eludes most observers. There, his irrationality, romanticism and myth are harder to detect, being cloaked in their seeming opposites: 'transformation', technology such as netcentric warfare, data links, persistent intelligence and SATKA, etc. But the very use of technology is itself of the myth and romanticism of stand off, precision kinetic Force. And so, the inconvenient reality of messy heavy non-agile combat, language, culture in Iraq is simply ignored.
As mentioned supra, the same phenomenon occurs at NASA and NOAA regarding climate change, at DoJ and the judicial branch, in administrative regulatory acitivites, at EPA, how energy conservation became a national priority because it filled a health care gap in a speech, etc.
The Stiftung reads The National Interest and has since Bob Osgood and Robert Tucker helped launch it. So we do not mean to be unfair to Nikolas Gvodsev in particular. (Although it would be nice to see new lifeblood and expertise than the same old Eurocentric/Russianist perspectives in place).
But the truth? The Administration rendered the fiat of 'there is no third way' moot years ago with its Post Modernist agenda. Notwithstanding what John Mearsheimer may say in the pages of the The National Interest. While neoconservatives played an important role in the Administration's policy, they were but one strand among many in the power structure that were and still are pushing a similar ardor for Belief over the empirical world.
The question of the Administration, American Power and 'what comes after' is beyond the current confines of a debate by the Usual and Aspiring Suspects. A Post Modern agenda with its priority on psychological dominance and control of belief systems — the life blood for irrationality, romance and myth — is wholly apart from the experience of either Realism (such as it is) or even Neoconservatism.
So we pose the questions again — 'Can American succeed as a Post Modern Power?' 'And at what cost?' 'And can we recover?'