The Tao of Wesley K. Clark

Read this morning with interest an interview with Harvard’s Steven Pinker in “Global Briefs” titled “On the State and Future of Violence,” in which questions were asked like “How violent is the today’s world?” Not much, the answer. For which we are all grateful. And as much as I have appreciated Pinker’s outlook for what it does, his interview brought to mind Francis Fukuyama’s famous essay with the fairly astonishing title: “The End of History and the Last Man” in 1992. Which, if I recall correctly, was extended by Charles Krauthammer to an essay titled “The End of Time.”

And these two essays seemed representative of the end of something. Fukuyama’s vision the end of the world of his generation when its vision of “time” consisted exclusively of contention between the USSR and the USA. Nothing more.

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Likewise, Pinker’s essay seemed to mark the end of a generation. A generation awakened by a masterful world shaman who quickly receding with this phrase: “Imagine there’s no heaven . . . no country . . . no religion too.” It brought the experience of what the Taoists call wu chi: The world between the end of the last world and the beginning of the next world. A world of relative peace got by stasis. This was Bill Clinton’s world and this was his generation’s fulfillment.

And now we are at the end of that as well. Obama was never really part of it. He only patronized it and accommodated it as best he could. But if the Democrats are to bring the century forward with Obama they will leave the Clinton generation behind. And if the Republicans are to bring the generations forward Mitt Romney will do it with the Reagan/Bush generation. So whichever case, the world begins again in 2012.

In contrast with visionaries like Pinker and Fukuyama, Wesley K. Clark seems a practical cat. In his essay in The Hill this morning he writes: “And after a decade or more focusing on ground combat in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, that requires shifting at the margins our resourcing and attention to air and sea and the Asia-Pacific. This is precisely the strategy recently articulated by the Department of Defense and endorsed by our nation’s uniformed military leaders.”

Clark’s essay brings us the world as it is and as it will be now. A world in time again. And this is where the generations will start again. As I understand it, Clark is an adviser to President Obama. The president would do well to bring him in, potentially replacing Joe Biden as vice president. Obama has paid his debt to the generations and should let them go now and start again. No better place to start a second time than with Gen. Clark.