What will America's next Big Vision be?
That is still a big question mark, but the search for the answer is at the root of the current Trump and Sanders popularity. They are popular because the more conventional political leaders have done so poorly at providing the nation a Big Vision.
As pointed out below, this is something that Putin has been successful at in Russia, and this explains why he is popular even though the economy is crumbling.
What America is currently experiencing is a lot of acrimony, which is the converse to a Big Vision -- the leadership is arguing vigorously, and then not coming to an agreement on how to proceed. The purpose of the Big Vision is to let the arguing happen, but then to come to agreements on plans, so that lots of projects can be accomplished, not lots more arguing.
Constructing an effective Big Vision is one of the higher arts of leadership. As we have seen since the 2007 crash, coming up with a good one is far from inevitable.
One of the big questions that the 2016 campaigns and elections will be answering is: Who will be crafting America's next Big Vision?
The spat between Saudi Arabia and Iran over the execution of a Shiite cleric and the subsequent trashing of the Saudi embassy in Tehran indicate that neither side is ready to join the globalized world culture -- both are still acting like their local flavor of hillbillies are still able to make local violence happen.
This current embassy trashing indicates that Iranians are still in love with the results of their last spectacular embassy trashing -- the US one in 1979 -- and looking for equally satisfying results from this one.
The problem with this hillbillies-in-charge scenario is that globalized business people are going to be real shy about investing in local operations, or sending in high quality people to help progress happen, because there is way too much possibility for capricious unhappy outcomes to happen.
Hopefully, the people of the Mid-East region are learning to become more aware of the big world around them. And more aware of the benefits of cooperating with the big world around them. But I guess it will still be a while before evidence of that learning becomes obvious.
This 4 Jan 15 WSJ article, Domestic Issues Fuel Saudi-Iranian Spat Riyadh, conservatives in Tehran use cleric’s execution to bolster policies, goals at home; Islamic State thrives on the discord by Yaroslav Trofimov, offers some more analysis of the situation.
One of the important functions of a community's leadership is providing a Big Vision. The Big Vision is a project that most of the community can support as a community endeavor. When a community gets behind a Big Vision, cooperating on all sorts of other tasks gets a lot easier and the community prospers in many other ways too.
But coming up with a popular Big Vision is not easy, succeeding at doing so is a sign of good leadership. The converse is acrimony -- when the community argues a lot, and puts teeth into the arguing by not agreeing on many other things so little gets accomplished.
Since the 2007 crash the world has been experiencing a lot of acrimony which is why economic growth has been slow. In the US Obama has not done well at providing a Big Vision, so the acrimony is high and in the US we are experiencing enough frustration that we are in a Time of Nutcases. This frustration with current leadership is why Trump and Sanders are doing so well at the polls.
Putin is trying to avoid the acrimony by rebooting the Cold War -- this is his Big Vision that he is promoting in Russia. This is a traditional Russian Big Vision and has the virtues of being familiar and supporting the traditional military-industrial complex. He is far from alone in using war fears as a Big Vision tactic -- North Korea is another full-time enthusiast. And the original Cold War served both the US and Russia well as a unifying Big Vision for each community. The scary side is when the war threatening evolves into adventurism and actual shooting, as happened in Germany when Hitler was providing his style of Big Vision. How Putin will continue crafting his "Cold War 2" Big Vision is something the world will have to watch.
This 2 Jan 16 Reuters article, Putin names United States among threats in new Russian security strategy by Vladimir Soldatkin, talks about this Russian vision.
This 12 Jan 16 WSJ article, Oil Prices at $30 Bend Nations, But Which Ones Could Break? Risks to big exporters such as Venezuela, Iran and Saudi Arabia aren’t so easy to quantify by Spencer Jakab, mentions what I call a "yellow waving flag" -- a mystery that needs to be investigated before more action is taken. In this case the popularity of Putin in Russia.
From the article, "In Russia, Vladimir Putin’s approval rating is in the high 80s despite steep inflation and cuts to social spending. That is in contrast to Boris Yeltsin’s last year in office, also during an epic oil-price slump, when his rating fell as low as the single digits. Even the weakened ruble, which has pushed to fresh lows against the dollar in the new year, hasn’t fomented unrest."
What this is indicating is how powerful an effective Big Vision can be on the community's feelings of enfranchisement, and feeling cooperative. In spite of how badly Russia is faring economically, the country seems to be feeling OK. This is the power of a good Big Vision.
This 13 Feb 16 WSJ article, Russian Premier Calls Entanglements a ‘New Cold War’ Dmitry Medvedev warns of grave consequences if West fails to cooperate with Russia in Syria, elsewhere by Anton Troianovski and Laurence Norman, brings up more of the same theme.
From the article, "Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the world was fighting a new Cold War, warning of grave consequences for the West if it didn’t cooperate with Russia in Syria and elsewhere."
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