I recently read a history of the Civil War in the US. What a fucking mess that was. Sure a lot of piss and vinegar at the start. But the people in the southern US are still bitter about that war, 140 years later. A lot of people died, nasty deaths; and a lot of what people cared about was destroyed. All of us are too young to remember, that's why we have to study this stuff, and think about it.
I learned from Founding Brothers something I somehow missed in American History in high school. Slavery was clearly the most severe topic of discussion when the United States was founded, and many of the founders and first representatives had a fatalistic attitude that the issue would ultimately lead to a civil war.
Rather than face the slavery issue head-on, the government maneuvered to suppress discussion and preparation for any kind of acceptable transition. As Dave Winer points out, the result was a tragedy that has lingered to this day.
I believe an equally important issue that will have at least as great an impact and is the result of similar lack of real leadership in the government of the United States is playing out currently in Iraq. Today's issue is the lack of preparation for the inevitable post-oil economy.
Arguments that the present Iraq situation is not about oil can be convincing only if you take a short-sighted perspective. The need for planning a post-oil economy has been apparent since the 1960s, or certainly since the 1970s oil crisis.
Ideology, dogmatism, demogoguery, monied favoritism, greed, sloth, and celebrity have led us down a path of until now opaque crisis.
We should all pray for true leadership to emerge, be recognized, and be effective. Post haste.