Saturday, August 16, 2008

We don't care; we don't have to.

It's not just utility monopolies that routinely slough off concern for the effects of their actions. I find this depressing. My reaction may be self-indulgent.

We the people of these United States simply find it more than we can do to attend to wars in which we don't, right this minute anyway, have our own soldiers dying.

Just 17 percent reported following news about Russian troops entering Georgia very closely, while 37 percent said they didn't follow it closely at all. The level of attention given to the Georgia conflict is comparable to previous international conflicts when they don't involve U.S. troops. The spike in military tensions between India and Pakistan in 2002 was followed very closely by 24 percent of Americans, and the conflict between the Russian military and rebels in Chechnya was tracked very closely by only about one-in-ten Americans. Even the 1993 civil war in Bosnia, which ultimately had far-reaching consequences for European politics, was followed very closely by just 23 percent of Americans.


I know, it is only human to pick and choose what we attend to. And all this agony is very far away in places we can't locate and don't understand.

But since we've been an empire since at least 1945, and the sole Alpha Global Dog since 1989 (though now on the wane), the quality of our democracy at home depends on whether our rulers are unregulated in their behavior toward the rest of the world.

And though we may not care now, as U.S. power declines -- as it must when other peoples demand their place in the sun -- we will have to care about what is done in our name in those faraway places.

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