Generally, when aspirations exceed capabilities and in turn prompts disequilibrium and imbalance as was the case over the last few decades in Washington, it is usually a combination of appetite, lust, and vanity which prompts such disequilibrium and imbalance. Such disequilibria and imbalances have occurred before in history as a result of aspirations exceeding capabilities because of a combination of appetite, lust, and vanity on the part of certain groups and individuals. But as Henry Kissinger suggested, this time around, it could be worse than all the previous instances of systemic disequilibrium and imbalance, when he wrote: “Our time, facing even graver prospects, needs to act on its necessities before it is engulfed by them.”
One should also note that taking stock of the current situation in a realistic manner does not equate to pessimism or methodological intransigence. It has been said that: “Realism is not a matter of any fidelity to an empirical reality, but of the discursive conventions by which and for which a sense of reality is constructed.” Plus, when we take our own discourse up until this point into account, along with all the data, facts, and information which we have found and have provided along the way, we realize that a dose of realism comes as a result of the complexity of the big picture that arises before us when all of our data, knowledge, and information is accounted for. As Walt Disney said: “I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.”
And as a result of the complexity before us, history can aid us in navigating the present and the future, but it cannot be our sole guide. Kissinger argued that the telos or “meaning” of history “is a matter to be discovered, not declared.” He added:
“[The meaning of history] is a question we must attempt to answer as best we can in recognition that it will remain open to debate; that each generation will be judged by whether the greatest, most consequential issues of the human condition have been faced, and that decisions to meet these challenges must be taken by statesmen before it is possible to know what the outcome may be.”
But is the current generation in power up to the task of overcoming the kind of challenges and problems we face today? Is it even rational or logical to believe or suggest that the same generation who created the challenges and problems of today are up to the task of solving these challenges and problems? It is highly unlikely that the generation in power who in turn created today’s challenges and problems are up to the task of solving them. Nor is there a clear inheritor for the daunting task of solving these challenges and problems. As Peter Zeihan wrote, America will perhaps ‘drop the torch’ before it can find someone who can take it up, given the size and the weight of the burden which has been created by the generation in power. And ‘burnout’ will perhaps reduce the pool of those who are capable and willing to take on such a burden upon their shoulders.