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by John Brian Shannon | January 19, 2015
What’s lacking in the world these days is a grand overriding global vision, one that large numbers of people can buy-into.
The entire world bought-into Perestroika and Glasnost, culminating in the end of the Cold War and the only reason it ended, is those policies appealed to large groups of people worldwide.
The imagination of the global public was captured *and only thereby* did the Cold War end. Ergo, voters put the people into office who shared their dream of ending the Cold War.
Similarly, did South African apartheid end.
Someone created a vision to which many millions of South African and global citizens could buy-into and people voted into office those who would carry out their wishes on the matter.
So many other examples exist; ‘The New Deal (FDR), Victory in WWII (Churchill), the Moon Shot (JFK), civil rights (MLK), Playing the China card (Kissinger), the PC (Steve Jobs / Bill Gates), I could go on at length. But you get my point.
Stifling individual visionaries is non-productive. Yet it seems to be the new norm.
Not all visionaries are perfect, not all visions are inspired, but it was a visionary who created the wheel, not an incrementalist. We can all see the profundity of that vision.
He or she, may not have created the best wheel at the time, but the manifestation of that vision has moved our civilization by orders of magnitude.
Under the umbrella of a grand and popular vision, the will of millions (perhaps billions) of citizens can be galvanized toward a common cause. The Moon shot is a great example of this — but in the absence of a grand overriding vision, civilization eventually falters. Everyone on the planet can be ‘part of the solution’. Unless we bungle it, that is.
Presently, the grand overriding vision is to attack suspected terrorists and to degrade the status of ordinary Muslims in our own, and their own, countries. That’s not a vision. Nor is it wise.
And slamming Vlad Putin in the media is not visionary.
“Demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one.” — Dr. Henry Kissinger
What we need now is a real vision that most everyone can buy-into. We need ‘Larger than Life’ stuff — not this B-movie script stuff.
One script that millions and perhaps billions of people could buy-into, is an accelerated change-up to renewable energy and high fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks.
For example, 50% of all electricity produced in the world by 2020 should be sourced from renewable energy. And a 95 MPGe standard for new vehicle fleets.
Let’s not fool ourselves, doing so would NOT be as difficult as the Moon shot, NOT as difficult as ending the Cold War in practically a matter of months, and NOT as difficult as ending South African apartheid within a handful of years.
Still, it would be a grand enough and difficult enough vision to capture the world’s attention and galvanize people towards a unifying and noble cause.
Reaching 50% of our energy needs with renewable energy is a vision and a goal that everyone could feel good about and thereby want to buy-into.
We can take a profound step towards this worthy goal by acting on one of the following choices:
- Remove the $600 billion dollars of annual fossil fuel subsidies over 10 years
- Dramatically ramp-up renewable energy subsidies to match fossil fuel subsidies
- Institute a carbon tax that reflects the actual cost to society of fossil fuel use
Any one of these plans would work.
I favour the (2) option — “Dramatically ramp-up renewable energy subsidies to match fossil fuel subsidies” — with equal subsidy amounts for renewable and non-renewable energy in every year to 2050. To be followed by complete cessation of ALL energy subsidies (renewable and non-renewable) on January 1, 2051 for a truly level energy playing field after that date.
We’d be leaving a cleaner world to our future generations and saving our economies trillions of dollars in environmental costs and healthcare costs.
And all that’s stopping us from that worthy and noble goal is a lack of vision and will.
In 20 years, wouldn’t it be great to look back and say;
‘By replacing fossil fuel use with renewable energy, billions of people are now breathing clean air, enjoying increased lifespan and quality-of-life, and we’ve saved trillions of dollars in carbon/climate mitigation costs.’
And those old enough at the time could say; ‘We built that.’
Syria: Can the ‘New Coalition’ Win Against ISIS without Syria and Iran? | 15/09/14
by John Brian Shannon
‘Elusive at best’ might be the proper terminology to describe the chances of winning against ISIS without the cooperation of Syria and Iran.
Think about it for a minute. If WE don’t make friendly with the Syrian leadership and the Iranian leadership, then perhaps ISIS will.
If you look at a map of the region you will see that both Syria and Iran border Iraq, both have large populations, both are almost 100% Muslim nations and both have trust issues with the West that go back decades.
Not only that, but both Syria and Iran do billions of dollars of business with Russia every year. And, therein lies the story.
The Syrian port of Tartus hosts a Russian Navy facility (Tartus port). During the Cold War it was a massive base which you can still see today as you fly into Tartus. Many former Russian citizens live in Tartus and many Russian sailors lived with their families their entire navy careers. Except when they were at sea, or called to Russia for training, some Russian sailors had never been anywhere else in their young lives (back in the 1980’s when that base was going full tilt). Russia’s Mediterranean fleet operated out of that base and it was also the refueling base for the Black Sea fleet. Inside the sprawling Syrian federal government buildings in Tartus all the signs were written in Arabic and Russian, for obvious reasons.
When I was there a couple of decades ago, a Russian officer told me that 100,000 Russians lived in Tartus and that they easily outnumbered the Syrians, although most of them give up their Russian citizenship to become Syrians at the end of their Russian Navy career. Some of them take on Arabic-sounding names to better blend in. I verified that with at least one taxi driver and with the concierge at my hotel. It certainly seemed like it could have been true at the time. Retired Russian Navy personnel often worked as Tartus traffic cops — apparently, that’s the job to have. Nice weather, and at the end of your working life, two pensions — one from the Russian Navy and one from the Tartus police. Not a bad post-Russian Navy gig for those Russians who don’t want to move back to 8 months of bitter cold every year.
Iran shares a peaceful maritime border with Russia which goes back centuries. The newest Iranian nuclear power plants are of Russian design, the Russians built them with Iranian labourers for the non-technical parts and all the spent nuclear fuel is required to be returned to Russia for disposal. In fact, the Iranian’s don’t get their new nuclear fuel rods until all of the returned spent fuel is carefully weighed and examined, so that the Russians can account for every gram of nuclear material that goes into or out of Iran. (Russia has this arrangement with other countries too)
As of September 15, 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Iran to discuss the building of 8 new Russian nuclear power plants with the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Sometimes it isn’t all about you — or who you want on your team — it’s about preventing the other team from signing them
Unless you want them playing against you. Does everyone get that? You may not like a certain all-star NFL player and you may not want him on your team, but do you really want to get flattened by that guy every couple of weeks? Say a guy who would be the size of the great ‘Refrigerator Perry’ of Chicago Bears fame.
“Uh, welcome to the team, Mr. Perry. Take my seat!” — See what I mean? SO MUCH BETTER than getting flattened, and the food is better at home anyway. Even though some people claim that they like hospital food. Whatever.
If we don’t work it out with the Syrians and the Iranians, then the Russians will. Do we really want to drive the Syrians, Iranians, and Russians together to the point where they feel compelled to team-up to offer mutual aid to each other? Is that in our best interest?
That’s simply not in the West’s best interests and we have to find a way past it. That’s what diplomacy is all about and Western diplomats are supposed to be the best. Well, let’s see it then!
If the United States feels that it must not back down from its stance on the Iranian nuclear power file, that’s almost understandable. The Iranian nuclear ‘problem’ represents a low or non-existent risk to the Western world for the next 10 years — while clearly, ISIS represents a clear and present danger to the West over the next 10 years (if they’re not dealt with now) which means it’s time for the West to re-prioritize.
If America doesn’t feel comfortable with it, then surely some of the well-known European diplomats could assiduously work to craft an agreement between Iran and the Europeans, that would eventually become detrimental to ISIS. Even securing landing and refueling rights within Iran for Western aircraft delivering aid to Kurdistan (for example) would be a start. Similar could be done by the Europeans with regards to Syria — maybe landing rights aren’t the issue, but the ability to overfly parts of Syria is the issue. Or something like that. We have to start somewhere as the present situation will increasingly work in favour of ISIS, Syria, Iran, and Russia — and not the coalition.
For now, we’re off to a great start to tackle ISIS, but two of the major countries in the region aren’t coalition members. And that does not portend a successful outcome.
But Russia thanks us for our efforts to drive Syria and Iran even further into the Russian orbit.