This Idea Will Save Humanity

Coal and Steel were what divided France and Germany. Both wanted it, both had some of it, but not enough for either one. Therefore, among other things, they fought over Alsace-Lorraine, a region rich in the coal needed to produce steel. An ancient enmity realized in multiple wars cost countless lives. Through these wars, the main engines of Europe exhausted themselves. They could no longer maintain the capacity to fight. They simply ran out of people, resources, and the will to continue dying for simple material resources. Instead, along with Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Italy, they created the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) as a means by which to share these precious resources, building off of their shared capacity to build their respective economies. Once they started sharing these resources, and building their economies back up after the utter destruction of the two world wars, they realized the more they integrated their economies, the better they would all do. This wasn’t hope, it was proven fact. Through a long process the ECSC turned into the European Economic Community, then the European Community, and most recently, the European Union. From the humble start of a single authority for Coal and Steel, eventually the countries of Europe were able to create a better life and future for all their citizens by unifying their economies. They hit hurdles in terms of creating a unified banking system to support a common currency, a unified political system, and a unified foreign policy, and it was these hurdles which sowed the seeds of disenchantment with the European experiment in the minds of some within its borders.


The last one, the foreign policy, is where I came in. In 1997 I began my study abroad in Belgium to learn about the European Union, to understand its history, institutions, and potential promise for humanity. I became a fan of May 9 (Europe Day), the European Anthem, and Robert Schuman (some call him the father of Europe). I love the idea of subsidiarity, where decisions are made at the lowest-most appropriate level, and was enamored by the idea of proliferating the ideals of the European Union to other parts of the world. I have not lost this intent. In fact, as the EU struggles under the pressure of inequality, where the benefits of integration went to the upper classes at the expense of everyone else, we can realize the lessons from this integration to create even more powerful supranational institutions for the benefit of humanity in all parts of the world.


In 2000, I launched my Fulbright, studying how NATO and the EU could work together for the security of the Trans-Atlantic Community, and the world. As I witness our current president pulling away from our allies, and the EU’s challenges with Brexit, I can’t help but feel both saddened by what’s becoming of the inexpensive Russian influence operations to destabilize the United States, the UK, NATO, and the EU. At the same time, I can see the seeds of the EU still flourishing, and want to bring these back to Europe, take them abroad, and show the world how we can all prosper from opening our economies, our borders, and our economic systems to each other, hopefully without the need to go to war first.


Today I look out and see the need for a decision by all currently in power. Will we let our world descend into the chaos of another war, led by the powers of illiberalism on one side, and those remaining to support the rule of law, economic integration, and individual freedom, on the other? I do not want to see this war, but it really looks like it’s coming.


Whether or not we end up in another world war, what happens after is what offers me, and humanity, hope. If some collection of us survive, we will need each other more than ever to solve shared problems. We will need to be focused on results, rather than philosophies, enmities, and histories, in order to improve our lives. We will be able to learn from the past to ensure we distribute the benefits of integration to all in society, rather than those only at the top. We will know where some of the landmines are (ensuring we minimize the wealth gap), so we can avoid them in our effort to rebuild, renew, and rise again as a prosperous society in which children can once again have the promise fulfilled of having better lives than their parents. We can have this worldwide, and I look forward to helping bring it to reality. Who would like to help?


Rush

RUSH

Looking down from our He-59, I can see the coast of England forming up just this side of the horizon.

These English, so smug, so isolated, so close to defeat!

Why don’t they just give up?

On this second night of mine deployment in the Thames Estuary, we’re putting the noose around the necks of those plucky English.

They don’t even know what’s hittin’em.

Our pilot, Adelberg, banks left, turning the aircraft toward the coastline.

Yes, get us close to shore, they’ll never think of being attacked there!

READY TO ARM THE MINE, Kalen announces across the comms.

Lights from the ground staccato on-off, as if flashing us.

GROUND-FIRE, I announced on the comms.

Tracers streak past the plane.

A few rounds slice through the thin metal shell separating my body from the outside air.

WE’RE ALMOST THERE, GET READY. Adelberg announces.

More rounds slam into the side and bottom of the plane.

I’M HIT! Kalen screams.

Turning to see if I can help, I find Kalen curled up, clutching his left arm within his doubled over body.

I’ll have to drop it.

Kalen reaches up with his right arm, trying to stop me.

DROP IT! LET’S GET OUT OF HERE. Adelberg demands.

I pull Kalen out of the way, grabbing hold of the lever.

Kalen struggles, reaching toward my arm.

DROPPING IT, I announce as I pull the lever, releasing the mine into the water below.

In a shaky voice, Kalen mutters, No, not yet!

Is Kalen spooked?

“Kalen, are you alright?” I ask by turning toward him, avoiding the comms.

“It wasn’t armed yet.” He replies, a sense of insecurity in his voice.

I look at Kalen. He stares back at me in anger.

“Why didn’t you arm it?” I demand.

“I was about to when I got hit!” He retorts, teeth mashing together in an effort to deal with the pain.

This mission will have been for nothing.

“I don’t want to have been short for nothing!” Kalen declares, as if he read my mind.

“It’s not for nothing.” I reply. “At least we learned you cry like a baby.” I say as I take out the med kit.

“And you overreact!” He replies, smiling as he kicks me.

SHUT IT YOU TWO, Adelberg chimes in. WE’RE HEADING HOME.

In the early days of World War II a German secret weapon was wreaking havoc on British shipping. Many ships were disappearing en route. On occasion a ship would enter port with it’s keel broken. The British were desperate to figure out what was causing their ships spines to snap. On the night of November 22, 1939 a German He-59 Seaplane was on a mine-laying mission over the Thames Estuary near Shoeburyness when it came under intensive ground fire. In a hurry to unburden themselves and get away from the barrage, the Germans dropped their magnetic shipping mines too early, before they had the chance to arm the devices. Due to the tides at the time, one of the mines landed in mud, rather than under the water. The Royal Navy and Army explosive experts acted quickly, retrieving the mine, and sending it to HMS Vernon (a research facility) to find out its secrets. Through intensive efforts at disassembly, the British were able to find out how the mine worked, and thus, how it could be disabled. The British were lucky to find a solution to their shipping problem. The Germans assumed the British would surrender when enough of their shipping was lost. The British may have done so, if it weren’t for a few nervous crew on a seaplane who accidentally gave the secrets of Germany’s secret weapon to the British first. Sometimes in War a slam dunk victory can be given away in a freak flood of nerves by a few soldiers.

ReForming The Center

On June 23, 2016 the United Kingdom held a vote on either to stay or leave the European Union (EU). Called Brexit this vote cast the fringes against the Center of the country, with the fringes winning by a mere 2% points with the help of multiple mistruths and the support of Russian influence operations. Today the process that vote began is in shambles, with the UK girding for a hard Brexit, preparing to fall out of the EU without any agreement in place on what happens next. This vote was the prelude to the election of extreme candidates across much of the world, from the United States to Brazil, and beyond.

This week, though, we’ve seen the first signs of moves away from the extremes. Members of both the Labor and Tory Parties left each to form a group calling itself “The Independents”. These are the seeds of what will be a movement away from the established parties to a central position within UK politics. They are also the harbingers of what’s to come in countries across the world where extremists took power.

As with all movement, all revolutions, all state-sponsored influence operations, there is a move in the opposite direction as well. One always precedes the other. We are now beginning to see that movement take shape in the UK. We may witness it transform the United States 2020 Presidential Election process as well. Where else will this movement begin to form? Where will it coalesce? Where will it fail? Where will it prevail? It’s too early to know the answers to these questions. What we do know, though, is the movement toward The Center has begun.

A key question worth asking is:

  • How do I support this movement to The Center?

Advocate for The Center. When you are in a conversation where someone starts pushing an extreme position, push back with a Central point. Never surrender The Center. As long as it’s held, built upon, and strengthened, it will endure.

Be an extreme Centrists. It’s the only way to save our democracies, our societies, our children’s lives, and honor all who gave their lives in The 20th Century’s Wars.