Globalism versus reality, competence versus naivety

Anne-Marie Slaughter

It is well-known that humanity could do better than it does. Much to our regret, the wonderful ideals of universal brotherhood, of peace and friendship largely remain just that — ideals. The reality is, that we humans form groups that mistrust one another, standing ready to defend our turf, or, at the opportune moment, grab that of a neighbor.

Rightly perceiving that state of affairs as unfortunate and deplorable, reducing our collective ability to face common problems and causing wasteful and deadly strife, we hear appeals throughout human history for mutual understanding, love and unity — the latest being the New York Times’ “guest essay” by Anne-Marie Slaughter, “the C.E.O. of New America, a think tank and civic enterprise” who acted as “a director of policy planning for the U.S. Department of State, the first woman to hold that position, from 2009 to 2011.”

The underpinnings of the thinking of this intellectual luminary and key foreign policy maker of the Obama administration are fascinating. “It is time to […] see the world first as a planet of eight billion people rather than as an artificially constructed system of 195 countries,” she suggests. Countries are but “artificial constructs” — they are not peopled by those who have very different ideas of what is true and what is false, of what is right and what is wrong, of who is good and who is bad. The free world, the Communist China, the Islamist Iran are, to Ms. Slaugher’s enlightened eye, merely “colored square[s] on the map.”

Using this premise, Ms. Slaughter suggests, with the self-righteous earnestness, that “Mr. Biden must prioritize cooperation on global issues and challenge other nations, regardless of whether they are democracies, autocracies or something in between, to join in.”

Will they respond affirmatively to Ms. Slaugher’s challenge? After all, Iran’s ayatollahs see salvation in the coming of the Twelfth imam who went missing as a little boy over a thousand years ago, and now awaits in some well-hidden place for a proper moment to reveal himself and convert the world to its ultimate destiny, the global Shia Islam. ISIS and their Sunni ilk see matters very differently indeed, wishing to see all Shia dead, the only way to put our world on the right footing being to convert everyone into Sunni Islam. As far as China is concerned, they are both are wrong, and are badly in need for re-education in Uyghur-style deprogramming labor camps — as is the West for that matter starting with the irreverent Americans who, buoyed by the freedom of thought and speech that they erroneously think humans are entitled to, dare to ignore (and even poke fun at) the incontrovertible ultimate truth discovered by Marx, Mao, and Xi — that the world-wide victory of Communism is inevitable and should be brought closer by means fair or foul.

Simply put, what Ms. Slaughter and the goody-goody intellectuals of her ilk ignore, is the fact that humans are all very different, and that countries they inhabit are not mere squares on the map. The different versions of “truth” — we in the West call it “ideology” — that run in their inhabitants’ minds and control their behavior turn them into literally different species of the animal who mistrust, despise, and hate one another — Shias, Sunnis, Communists. When looking at an ayatollah or a Communist, Ms. Slaughter only sees a fellow-human, forgetting that while human hardware is identical for all, the ideological software that controls how this hardware acts, is very different indeed.

What appalled me about Ms. Slaughter’s “guest essay” was not just how ignorant people can be (needless to say, she is clearly clueless) — but to what high positions of power our politics can propel such ignoramuses. “A director of policy planning for the U.S. Department of State” better be firmly grounded in realities and have an eagle eye when it comes to who is the friend and who is the foe, who should be shunned and who should be trusted — else, our ship of state will very quickly hit the rocks.

Sure, there are plenty of childishly naive people — and needless to say, the New York Times should be free to publish them. But We the People should know better — and better don’t elect such naifs to the halls of power,as we did, repeatedly, in 2008 and 2012. That, it seems to me, is the main lesson of Ms. Slaugher’s childish “guest essay”