Pathways to insanity

By : Jim Pinto,
San Diego, CA.

The new century has indeed commenced with disturbing events, which seem to be the pathways to insanity for the US - the most powerful nation in a fragile world.

This article was published by:
San Diego Mensan magazine, October 2002

What is insanity? A personís passion, determination or drive could appear to others as sheer lunacy. The entrepreneur seems crazy from the standpoint of the conservative accountant. If the risk-taker fails, their actions are certified as crazy; if they succeed, then the insanity is considered genius. The paradigm shifts.

Indeed, war is insanity - but time and time again, history has shown how seemingly good leaders have pushed their countries into war within a context that seems insane to later generations. I have talked with good people in Germany who felt inspired by Hitlerís rhetoric and leadership vision without being aware of the destructive depths of his insanity.

Today, how many of us can explain what the Korean War was all about? And why Lyndon Johnson escalated the bombings in Vietnam? At the time, the only people who thought that the war was insane enough to be rebellious were the students at Kent State. Indeed, Johnson himself later regretted his actions, to the extent that he abandoned a further bid for the presidency.

The new century has indeed commenced with disturbing events, which seem to be the pathways to insanity for the US - the most powerful nation in a fragile world.

The improbable path started with election of a US president who received less than a majority popular vote but an 'electoral college' majority - a technicality that few outside the US really understand. The outcome hinged on a slim few votes resulting from a questionable count in Florida, where the governor was the winning candidateís brother. The election was questioned by the Florida Supreme Court, but over-ruled by a partisan majority in the US Supreme Court with harsh dissenting opinions. The new President was inexperienced on the world stage, and uh, shall we say, not the brightest. The son of a former US President, he is considered by many to be a throwback to the days of John Wayne cowboy westerns. Today, he leads the US during a period of unprecedented turmoil in a fragmented world.

Less than a year after that strangest-ever US presidential election, the 9/11 events occurred. A small group of seeming lunatics surprised the world by the simple, yet deadly, sacrifice of their own lives. The horrors of their insane acts were broadcast with instant communications and graphic video coverage to a global community. The world became suddenly and painfully aware that this insanity was indeed widespread; impressionable children in many countries were being bombarded with it, as part of their religious discipline.

Anxious for revenge against the terrorists, the cowboy president quickly launched awesome military might against one of the poorest countries in the world, where their mastermind had reportedly made his headquarters. Afghanistan was squashed with technological firepower within weeks. Then almost immediately, the presumed non-involved inhabitants received aid instead of bombs. Indeed, it is still difficult to tell who is the enemy and who is ally. When the newly installed leader was attacked recently, it turned out that his bodyguards were not loyal locals, but American commandos. In the midst of this insanity, the world is still acutely aware that the terrorist leader remains at large and is admired by many, albeit misguidedly.

Concurrently, on a totally different plane, another pathway to insanity unfolded. The heart Capitalism was suddenly stricken by greed and scandal from within. It was quickly evident that many corporate leaders had indeed becomes insanely greedy and that this disease, now called Enronitis, was endemic in the system. Several large corporations started to topple like dominos and a capitalistic Pandora's box was opened with disastrous consequences to the economy. The protests of the president and many politicians seemed hollow when it was disclosed that they themselves had accepted personal financial inducements in the past. The stock market, that visible indicator of capitalismís success, has dropped precipitously and now no one can predict whether or not it will collapse further.

The established paradigms of the developed world continue to show vulnerability to the acts of a few - desperate, greedy, or insane. Memories of the awful events of 9/11 stimulate most Americans to patriotic zeal; but this cannot stop the terrorists from repeating their evil, harshly harping for the world to heed their cause. The suicide bombings in Palestine repeatedly re-ignite the lunatic fuse with seeming immunity to any organized response.

As the world waits nervously for some respite from this insanity, the marginally elected US president plans to wage war against Iraq. Prodded on by his fatherís former war chiefs, he vows to bring down the villain who had inflicted pain and shame on his fatherís administration a decade ago. If this were not deadly serious, it would be comic-book fodder!

Most of the world considers a US war with Iraq as a path to insanity - indeed, those very words have been used many times, even by close US allies and members of congress, in the past weeks.

At the start of a new century, the prospect of war brings an anxiously waiting world to the brink of destruction in a conflict that will be much more dangerous than the world wars of the previous century. Now, we worry that perhaps this "path to insanity" is moving inexorably towards a terrible culmination.

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