We Are Fresh Out Of Planet : My fears about the long-term in the U.S.

This is IMHO and so I feel it’s the right place for this thread. I’m hoping that others may feel comfortable enough to share some thoughts on this topic. It’s a doozey.

I am consumed with very long-term thoughts. The news in the last week and especially in the last 24 hours is so profoundly distressing, that I’m not sure how to coordinate my thoughts. The leaders of my country claim that they have a Road Map for the Middle East. They have a plan for Post-Hussein Iraq. A mention is made on NPR the other day of the fact that Iraq is simply a conventient creation of early 20th Century British Empire.

The United States of America is not even 250 years old, and we stand on the brink of not only worldwide hubris, but worldwide control by standards we alone are setting. ( When I say we, I am referring to the terms and conditions mentioned by my country’s leaders, not myself ). Words like Imperialism are bandied about and yet even that word pales before the implication.

There is no doubt to me that the governments in many countries control their people by dint of violence and bloodshed. Iraq is surely not unique here. I am afraid for the steps we may be taking, with Great Britain. I think ahead a year, five years, twenty years to a world that is massively different than the one I grew up in.

A world that has borders that have been shredded, a world where two powers are no longer in power because of the sheer arrogance of their approach to worldwide affairs. We are not so large a world, any more. We are nothing more than an amazing string of linked locales. You can stand in Qatar or Korea or Capetown or Concord, Ca. and see someone in another of those towns, in real time and in amazing clarity. The thrusts proposed by our nation’s leaders ( and by Mr. Blair ) are so huge in implication that I am simply terrified by the possible results.

Why has it fallen to us to decide who lives where? Who governs how? I agree that there is a moral need to protect the lives of those who cannot help themselves, we have been the World’s Policemen ever since we levelled Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

It just doesn’t feel as though the only agenda at work here is protecting the basic human rights of others. Those are the banners under which this war is being waged ( and, no doubt, there are millions of Iraqi’s whose human rights are violated ). I sense other agendas, and I wonder what of the countries who were our Allies ever since 1945? We are so arrogant as to stand alone and deaf to the protestations of the rest of the free world? We would garrotte the nations who live by our purse strings by choking off aid- to force their allegiances to us? What does that say of us as a higher civilization?

History repeats itself. Rome lasted centuries and failed out of widespread conquering and mindless arrogance. My great fear is that in the zeal to make the world conform to a ( IMHO ) dangerously narrowminded parameter of mindset, religious belief and moral code, we are alienating ourselves right off the planet.

We’re fresh out of planet. It is horrifying to me. My love of my country is ingrained, and my fears are internal, I’ve no need or interest in promoting some huge external reaction in my town, my county, even my family. Inside of my heart and mind, I wonder if I am witnessing that which countless others have witnessed before : the indelicate self-destruction of a culture that went from boundless promise to bound and gagged, by its own hand.

We are fresh out of planet, and I am scared by that.


Cartoon - you are exhibiting a sentiment felt across the world, unfortunately this is not a new feeling for some people. Imagine if you lived in Bosnia?

I feel what you are saying, I feel the emotion behind your words, and in your thoughts. But comparing ther US to Rome is not exactly a fair comparison. Was Rome a SuperPower of antiquity? yes. But if you think about the things that they didn’t have that in contemporary society shape our thoughts and minds, you can see how the outlook is not as dismal as Romes was. Media, computers, social reform, telephones, cellphones…etc…etc… should I go on?

The state of the world is horrible now, but I see a global transformation and awareness taking over in the coming decades. Call me overly optimistic, but if I’m not who will be? I want the world I raise my children in to be a just one. And if getting rid of people who want to cause harm makes this world more just, then so be it. I look to the future and see goodness with every passing generation, an awareness that the evil-doers of this day and age will not be so forever.

In general, I take an over-simplified view of what goes up must come down, and as it comes down, something else goes up in it’s place. Societies are just another organism, and they must also abide by lifespans.

As far as being the world’s policeman, we seem to pick and choose who will receive our assistance in liberation and who will be left to fight things out on their own. A cynic would find reasons for that.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we took the billions this war is costing us and put it into making America energy self-sufficient? No matter whose oil we get our hands on, isn’t there only 50-60 years’ supply left?

It’s the nature of the state to promote its interests and there’s nothing we can do about it. I doubt that any state in our position to assert our interests would pass up the opportunity. You’re free to moan about it, but you’ll never change it.

As for the notion that what comes up must come down or that once a nation reaches a certain bulk it collapses on itself -it was probably true in earlier times. But since today economic force outweighs military force, it’s harder to fit the analogy.

Well, as ghastly as things may appear now, I think you can put it in perspective. We’ve gone through similar things with the Spanish-American War, wars with Canada and Mexico, Korea, Vietnam and so on. Some of these were completely unapologetic land grabs. Yet we’re not a particularly imperialistic country. We’ve gone through phases of isolationism (didn’t always work well) and rampant flexing of muscle (again, not always so well). I don’t think you can pick today’s spot on the cycle and extrapolate it into US – the world’s policeman and self-arbiter of morals and politial alignment.

As for imperialism, that’s not really an issue. Colonialism, particularly at a distance, and over different cultures, has pretty much failed (or died out) over the past couple of hundred years. It’s just too much trouble to try to govern a resentful (and armed) population.

Are there things to worry about? Sure. Are there guarantees that what we’re doing in the Middle East won’t have catastrophic effects? Nope. Is American culture dooming itself? Not likely.

You might be interested in this essay, “How America Picks Its Fights.”

Cartooniverse, although what you say sounds impassioned yet a little cynical, I can only hope you’re wrong about the predictions of things lurking on the horizon.

If we did that there are those who would find fault with it. They would say that we were being isolationist and not shouldering our role in the world. We would be looking out for our own good while delegating the rest of the world to the use of fossil fuel. Instead we should give half of our resources to the rest of the world “according to their needs.” :rolleyes:

As to the OP, the DOOM & GLOOM outlook is as silly as SHOCK & AWE

I surely don’t expect agreement in here. I do expect respect in this thread. If you need to call people names, take it to the Pit. Nobody is attacking anyone’s point of view or beliefs here. Got that?
av8rmike, that essay is pretty fine work. Thank you so much for the link. I swear, I wrote my O.P. here before knowing anything about that article but you have to admit- it’s basically my O.P.

That’s a tough call there, Phlosphr. Is ignorance bliss? Would I be this distressed if news of the war in Iraq didn’t reach me with the technically perfect immediacy we all know and love/hate? There is the same level of social concern at a moment-to-moment basis as there was in Rome. The difference? The Romans might have worried over and over about a given person until word was brought of their life.

What is more torturous? Knowing how many bodies are plowed under the sands in the last hour, or having no idea how many died this month until word reaches us a few months later, from the Middle Eastern Front?


I disagree. I think we would be applauded as being far-sighted and eco-friendly. After backing out of Kyoto, I fear that we’ve been percieved by other nations as not giving a crap what happens to our planet as long as we can drive our SUVs. (I occasionally have visions of what it will look like when all of our internal combustion automobiles become obsolete-- enormous, endless junkyards.)

In a way, they’d be right. We don’t plan ahead, or even care to think seriously about what kinds of repercussions our actions may have in the future.

Again, I disagree. I think it’s reasonable to consider the worst-case scenario. Nations and societies are not static. It’s silly to think that things will always remain the same. For all we know in 300 years there may not BE a United States of America. Perhaps we’ll be taken over by Canada. Stranger things have happened.

Things are in turmoil as we speak. This war will affect foreign policy for at least a generation. One of my greatest fears is that other nations will emulate us in waging “preemptive” wars. (Such as India vs. Pakistan.) It would be extremely difficult for us to not appear hypocritical if we tried to stop any conflicts. Things could quickly go awry without a competent and capable leader and diplomat at our country’s helm, which, I feel, our president is not.

Lissa, you do know that no First-World country actually ratified the Kyoto treaty, right? I don’t see any problem with us backing out of something nobody else was willing to commit to.

The problem is that the US has become so big and influential that we’re always going to be hated. We’re so interconnected with the rest of the world that to appease one ally is to alienate another. Frankly, I see it as a global game of king of the hill. People hate us for what we have and what they don’t.

I think we need to learn more before we can say that:

People want everything to be the way they want it to be, all others be damned.

I just find it positively ludicrous when peace protestors riot. I mean, come ON.

“Fresh out of Planet”…just so. One of my theories is that the availabilty of a ‘frontier’ to go out into has always been one of mankind’s safety valves. People could always just pack up, head out and go somewhere else. Nowadays, everything’s taken, so the ‘unsettled territories’-- outlet for dis- or malcontents, or for those who simply want a chance to start something new, isn’t available. Sort of like a pressure cooker, and the steam valve is stuck closed.

      • We are by no means “fresh out of planet”, there are still great areas of the earth basically unpopulated. I am thinking Russian interior, China, Canada. Not exactly prime real estate, but you’re not going to find a tropical island with lots of resources free for the taking.
  • As for “where is it the US’s place to decide…”, the US is the most powerful country. Throughout time, the most powerful countries have always done what they wanted, as long as history has been recorded. If the US wasn’t doing it, someone else would.

Cartooniverse raises a good point.

The Earth is finite. In other words, natural resources are finite. What are you gonna do when we run out of stuff ?

IIRC back during the 70’s oil crisis folks were hollering for “alternative energy sources”. Somehow we dropped the ball on that. We’ve had 25 years to come up with something other than “dependence on foreign oil”.

But we haven’t.

IMHO that’s pretty stupid.

Canada did, finally.


“[T]he ideal of the rugged individual opening up the American West is still applied as an essential truth to ten million citizens living in the small area of New York City, as if ten million bulls should and could be squeezed into a china shop.”

  • John Ralston Saul, Voltaire’s Bastards

The solution to this is quite simple really- Colonize Mars! A whole other planet would solve things for awhile. And after Mars fills up - well on to the Asteroid belt and Gallian moons, and beyond.