My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Domestic Applications for Thomas Barnett 

Thomas P.M. Barnett is a really great mind, as anybody who listens to Hugh Hewitt knows. That does not mean he is always correct, but the fact that the men with a lot of stars and bars invite this man to the Pentagon to tell them how to view the world says a WHOLE lot about the quality of this man's mind.

One of Dr. Barnett's primary theses is "Disconnectedness Defines Danger." In other words, those who are not a part of the community are the ones who are most likely to cause mischief within the community, or to, at least, be the sources of mischief. The easiest example of this phenomenon is Afghanistan, circa 1998: a country completely disconnected from the world community, with little in the way of trade or economic activity. Because of this lack of interplay with the rest of the world community, Afghanistan had little to gain from playing by the rules of the rest of the world community. Thus, it was easy and natural for Afghanistan to become a haven for those who would destroy the world community.

This is not new ground, though I cannot recommend strongly enough that you read Dr. Barnett's books, if you haven't already.

But what got me thinking about this was the events in Blacksburgh, Virginia on Saturday. For those who may have forgotten, Virginia Tech University (in Blacksburgh) was the scene of the worst school shooting in history last April--32 victims killed, the shooter taking his own life.

By all accounts, Seung-Hui Cho was about as disconnected from Virginia Tech as he could possibly be. Diagnosed early in life with anxiety disorder, an angry loner in college, a man declared mentally ill by a Virginia judge, Cho was not only disconnected from the student body around him, but, very likely, from reality itself. And that disconnectedness became very dangerous for the VaTech student body.

As I watched the events on Saturday morning, at the first large-scale event on the campus since the massacre, I was struck by how much the community had brought itself back together to heal and to become whole--though with horrible scars. I was struck watching a 65,000-person stadium becoming totally silent in respect; I was struck by extension of the community to the East Carolina team and band, who played the Anthem together and then who came out of the tunnels at the same time to avoid "booing;" and I was struck by the sight of 20-year old men and women weeping openly and comforting each other in the stands at an athletic event.

And it occurred to me that there is an interconnectedness in the whole thing: Barnett, Blacksburgh, and politics.

I wrote a couple months ago about the conservative movement abandoning the high moral ground in domestic affairs to the liberals because we don't talk about government-run, forced charity. I talked about New Orleans, I talked about childhood poverty, and I talked about mental health issues--and all of these things are really about disconnectedness.

The persistent poverty that condemned many citizens of New Orleans to their fate in the slums of NOLA is a result of an inability to plug in to the economic engine that makes America work. Hear that right: it's not a lack of access--they have the same access. They just lack the ability to plug in. It's like trying to log on to a computer network with the wrong network protocol or technological language.

Childhood poverty is the same sort of problem--single parents without skills or resources to plug in to America condemn their children to the same fate.

And mental health disconnection leads to . . . Blacksburgh.

There is a lot more material to plum here, and I will undertake, over the next days and weeks, to do just that.

But, suffice to say, my conclusion for tonight is that the first "compassionate" priority of every Republican candidate should be to increase access to the economic engine of America. Increasing connectedness will increase safety and security for all Americans.

And the argument could be framed in these terms, too, to cut through the media fog.

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