Sunday, December 14, 2008

What We Fight For, and Why We Lead.

Where In The Hell Is Matt?
Books Authored by LtC Robert Bateman, USA

Economic Freedom Map 2008

Todays, two Americans, both great lovers of their country, take center stage here at HG's World. The first article is by Lieutenant Colonel Robert L. Bateman, USA, who describes himself as an infantryman, historian and prolific writer. I admit that Colonel Bateman has ruffled my feathers a few times in the past, but this time he hit a homerun, and in the words of the editors of the SWJ Blog was "spot-on." I totally concur and recommend, What I Fight For by Robert Bateman.

The story in Bateman's words:

Recently on an e-mail based discussion group in which I participate, there was some extended debate about how much language training was enough and which was more important, language training or history/culture education, for deploying soldiers. It was an informed and interesting squabble, with practitioners from every American war since Korea piping in with opinions and points of evidence. Then one fellow, a former-soldier-turned-photojournalist named Jim, plopped down the Truth. His simple formulation? "It's a people thing."

Now I am not a big one for the whole "emotional" thingeemabob. In most debates I want footnotes, documentation, and fracking proof for everything. People who know my history know this about me. But there are limits, and Jim's simple statement hit the mark. Sometimes, some very rare times, you don't need proof. You don't need evidence. You need only know how to feel, and be human. Jim, I knew instantly, was right.

.....OK, so a few years ago this doofus Seattle kid, a 20 something named Matt, decided he wanted to see the world. He took off, and it being the internet age and all, he updated his friends with short snippet videos from all over. The hook was that all of his friends firmly believed that this fellow, Matt, was quite possibly the worst dancer in all of human history.

They were probably right.

But because young Matt had a sense of humor, the snippet videos he sent to his friends from around (that time) South and SE Asia, were all of him dancing his somewhat, ahhhh, unique "dance" in various locals.

Then somebody tied all the videos together. It went "viral"...meaning that people across the planet watched it. Millions upon millions of them. Including some very saavy marketers at an Australian gum company called "Stride." They wrote to Matt and said, "Hey mate, like to do it again on our dime?" So Matt went around the world again, doing his doofy dance. That video was even bigger. Matt was inundated with mail, and Stride saw a global marketing boost, so they (being Aussies) said, "Double down mate." And Matt fused the two...all of the e-mail he had from around the planet...people who loved his video, and a travel expense account that his unemployed butt could have never supported.

This video was the upshot: Where The Hell is Matt?

And THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is what we fight for. Or at least it is one part of what I fight for. Your mileage may vary, but for me, the vision of the world that this dumb-ass, 20-something, no-talent Muldoon gave us through his genius is enough. Our world is farked up, or at least large parts of the world...the parts that we Soldiers (and our brothers, the Marines) see, are often farked up. But young Matt, with this effing magnificent, transcendent, unifying-the-whole-goddamned-planet vision, which he demonstrated to the world all by his lonesome far better (judging by the 26 million hits on this video) than DoD, or State, or than any part of our government ever has, is a vision of the planet that represents what I want for our collective future.

My friend Jim is right. "It's a People Thing."

I hope this is what you fight for as well. Regardless of your nationality.

Colonel Bateman gets it totally right. The essence of this story goes hand in hand with this next post by Thomas Barnett in his weekly column. His topic is that America's role has not diminished so much that it is poised to reclaim the traditional role of moral leadership, that we have had for the past century.

Barnett begins:

Wise men tell Americans that our nation no longer leads this world: We bankrupted ourselves first ideologically through unilateralism, then militarily through "global war," and now financially through the debt crisis. Rising great powers, we are told, now lead the way.

But where do we locate this new leadership?
In Europe's self-absorption over its rising Muslim quotient?
In Russia's self-inflicted economic penance for its smackdown of Georgia?
In India's crippling obsession with Pakistan?
In China's super-cooling economy and the social unrest it'll trigger?
In Japan's - whatever Japan is doing nowadays?

So which foreign leader has captured the world's attention with his promise of changed leadership?

Read the whole column to find out.

Barnett closes with this observation:

We can't borrow any more and thus can't police anywhere else without a dramatic renegotiation of that great power compact.

Furthermore, both aging West and rising East must come together to create and nurture markets among globalization's bottom-of-the-pyramid populations, for there will be found, in China's and India's rural interior as well as Africa's untapped labor pools, tomorrow's dramatically expanded global middle class. That's where our economic competition with China truly lies: seeing who captures the most new markets in coming years.
In the end, this unfolding drama we call globalization cannot advance without its chronically ambivalent lead - its Hamlet. For, if America does not lead the world's great powers against today's sea of troubles, there will be no fortunes preserved - much less won - and only further slings and arrows to be suffered.

These two converging ideas represent the best America has to offer the world. The crusty, evidence demanding soldier-historian Bateman gets it. Barnett has been preaching this message for the past two decades. To see the pen and the sword both understand, that it is in the words of Bateman's friend Jim, "It's a people thing" the future however currently in doubt, will sail on and our human resilience will meet the challenge.

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