This is the first installment of list of People to Watch in the Second Post 9/11 Decade. I want to say that in general I do not greatly edit a post and leave it in its original place in the blog. However, this was a jumping off point for a very ambitious project and so it has fallen into a different category of post. The latter parts of the series were first posted much later and had very minor revsions as I am typing this updated introduction in January of 2011. This post has already had some minor edits before tonight and will likely have quite a few more after this. So if you have read this since it was first posted on September 11, 2010. The historian in me is of two minds about this. First, like any historian I revise my writing and there are article versions that precede book versions of histories. However, this is not in any meaningful sense a history whereas by editing this post I am making it less usable and manageable as a typical historical source. I hope you read it anyway and find it useful in mapping out the projections you produce for the future. The imperfectly kept rule will be that in the biographical sketches under each name the information in the original post will be in ordinary type while later text additions will be in this italic typeface.
After the initial trauma of the 9-11 experience had grown a bit less raw it became rather a commonplace to assert that America had been forever changed on that day. I became rather a refrain to discuss how life and our history would be marked by that day which split the era into before 9-11 and after 9-11. Even as I type this American populist conservative commentator and television host Glen Beck has some sort of 9-12 movement which emphasizes this shift. The truth is always hard to exactly determine and difficult for people to agree upon entirely. Nonetheless, it is true that we did experience an event of enormous cultural and historical significance on the eleventh day of September 11, 2001.
What will the long-term outcomes likely be? I am not going to devote most of this post or of my time in these days to really trying to predict a very specific vision of the future. In this blog I have advocated a certain set of future courses of action and states of being for the United States of America and the world. However, advocacy and prediction are quite different things. There is little that involves detachment in the former and little that involves committed passion in the latter.
I am entirely engaged in the work of being myself and attempting to live up to my own responsibilities most of the time. That is similar to the lives of most people most of the time. Our responsibilities, aptitudes and abilities vary but a very large number of us could describe our lives in those terms. What happens to be true is that the world does not wait for us to have our own lives in perfect order before it confronts us with challenges. America and much of its legacy in the world faces such a challenge just now.
There is no simple solution to all of the problems that we have to solve. But it will simply do little good to pretend that we do not have serious challenges that we must meet. It helps to know what principles govern human behavior at the individual, family, community , national and global levels. But knowing all the basic principles that will shape the decisions we make and others make will not be enough. We will need to know many things including players who will be making the decisions and the reasons that are likely to appeal to them as they make those decisions. I have left out several people for reasons too complex to summarize here but want to mention some of them by way of showing how incomplete the list is:
Larry Summers, Meg Whitman, Philip Lord Norton, King Juan Carlos, Felipe Calderon, Mitch McConnell, Harry Reid, Mary Landrieu, Nancy Pelosi, Taylor Swift, Michael Phelps, Drew Brees, Colin Powell , Henry Louis Gates, Arnold Schwartznegger, Nick Clegg, James Carville, Anderson Cooper, Billy Nunguesser and even me…
Gearing up for the future of America these are in no particular order a group of people to whom more may be added later:
1.President Barack Hussein Obama This President of the United States of America will continue to set the tone for much of the American future and its policies for the foreseeable future. We face the future as best we can in a world where the election of Barack Obama has already shown us as profoundly weak in the eyes of so much of the world. Barack Hussein Obama it is to be noted is the descendant of an American mother and has married and had children with an American wife. The mother was white, the wife is black. Obama’s father was an African student and he also had an Indonesian stepfather. In a scoiety where forty-one percent of children are currently born out of wedlock, Schwarzenegger has been Governor of California, Jindal is currently Governor of Louisiana, Granholme was Governor of Michigan until two weeks ago and tens of millions live here without documents Obama has a strong basic appeal to our society which is committed to its own utter destruction at this time.
2. Josef Ratzinger, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI The second consecutive Patriarch of Rome, Bishop of Rome and Supreme Pontiff and Successor to the Throne of St. Peter who has not been an Italian and that (without saying the Italians are not agreat people and without saying that Bishops ought mostly to come from their own lands or related lands) is a good thing. It would probably be good if about half of all Popes were Italian over time but I would not want to see dozens of Popes in a row who were not Italian so everyone must do the best they can. He is a German who fought in the regular nonpolitical part of the German forces doing his duty in World War II and is a very accomplished scholar. However, the service to any state headed by Adolf Hitler and his lunatics is a blemish on the Papacy. But the Papacy has had many blemishes — nonetheless I do not lay all the blame on him personally but I do hold it against him. He remembers the insanity of Nazi political religion and although his experience was more ambiguous than he admits he will work to see that the liturgy and practice of the Church draws forth a milieu such as produced Mozart, the Bach family and the Gothic Cathedrals. If he could say anything kind and honest to the Jews in the way of professional advice and have it received he would advise them to invest in their worship and liturgy to reach and surpass the heights of the Temple’s musical past.
3. Her Britannic Majesty, Elizabeth She has managed to become the Head of State for sixteen countries as they left the Empire as well as head of the Commonwealth. The Crown is more independent of the UK government than it has been in centuries and this gives her bargaining power in that government she would not have otherwise. Queen Elizabeth of Scotland and of England Second of the Name’s traditional Christmas Speech this year was perhaps as good as any if not the best she has ever given. She seems to be growing both deeper and more spiritual and nuanced. There is no doubt in my mind that she will continue to be a factor in the world for at least as long as she reigns.
4. HRH Charles Prince of Wales is the Prince of WAles with the most formal education in history. He will not be a pet or showdog for anyone. Much of what he does is decent, admirable and very fine. He deals with issues others fail to see as vital. He can nonetheless be very dangerous to US interests. On the other hand he may help resist greater mutual dangers. As is often found in Kings (which he is not yet) the best and worst of his complex heritage are present together in him. One of his many new initiatives is accounting for sustainability which is I think in part a response to the BP disaster. I think he is also very involved in the marriage of his son Prince William and trying to make a better and more secure future for both British royalty and the British people.
5. David Cameron A careful and clever young Prime Minister who will not overreach any time soon. He wants to build a Cameronism for the Conservatives and see them rule the UK but he is in no hurry. Nobody knows what he may be capable of or what his limits are — not even David Cameron. David Cameron has now formed a coallition government with the Liberal Democrats. He and Nick Clegg have done a very good job of organizing the debate and the reform of parliament in a way which can possibly lay a foundation for a political future that reverses many of the seemingly intractable roots sent into the political ground by the Labour Party in its thirteen years or so in power. He is still feeling his way in these years of Lib-Con coallition and is likely to emerge from the process stronger than ever. With a wife and young children he is clearly a symbol of what long-term political potential could look like.
6. Sarah Palin This former and resigned Alaska governor and Republican Vice Presidential Candidate has made an impact on American politics and raised cultural hopes which are not easy to quantify. She is not perfect but is a powerful living symbol of deep hopes of many people. Sarah Palin has recently had a television reality show called Sarah Palin’s Alaska in which she promotes her state and makes up in some way for walking out of the Governor’s Office. She also has come out with her second book after the memoir Going Rogue. This second book is America by Heart and has been very successful. She continues to develop ties with the Tea Party and other aspects of the US electorate and political milieu.
7. George H. W. Bush This former US President is getting old enough that he may not be with us for long into the coming decade (or he may live well past this final year of the first decade, through the coming decade and into following one) but regardless his influence on the CIA, his heritage in establishing a unique American family expressed of Presidents, Governors and rooted in his father’s senatorial career makes him unique. His work with Bill Clinton in the field of disaster relief will make the world and the nature aware of his work well into the Obama regime. He is also taking a measurable role as patriarch (in a limited American sense) of the Bush clan. He is mentioned in his son’s new memoir and has appeared on television discussing his exceptional sons, wife, daughters-in-law and grandchildren. He seems to be applying his formidable intellect to the fact that there are systemic problems in the USA which may demand remedies he would not have hoped to see employed during most of his life.
8. George W. Bush This former President of the United State will continue to have influence both in the Bush family network and in the business community. In time his political legacy will be seen by the GOP as having been elected twice with significant coattails. If he lives a long time he will have more of a politico-social life than most imagine now before he leaves the stage. However, he will not be the individual super-producer of work that Jimmy Carter has been. Sincw the first part of this entry was posted this former President Bush has come out with his memoirs Decision Points which has sold very successfully. Dana Perino his former Whte House press secretary has used her television news job to defend his record in subtle by continuous ways. His daughter Barbara Bush has been working on establishing a very successful health and medical charity which givers her occasion to discuss his good deed in AIDS outreach in Africa. His reputation has been rebuilt considerably since he left office amid clouds of critical animosity.
9. Glen Beck One to watch! It is too early to say what this Mormon populist conservative tv host, commenter and organizer will really do over the long-term. Beck continues to play a fairly serious game. He is a man of patience and significant internal resources on whom a great deal of the jury of history is not only out but in some cases has not yet even been convened.
10. Hillary Clinton This Secretary of State and former First Lady is a big question mark. She will respond effectively to opportunity. That does not mean the liberal feminist has no ideals but her style is opportunistic. She will do a lot if there are big opportunities in her path and she will do very little (for one of her stature) if there are not good opportunities. Hillary Clinton has begun to pay the full and significant price of being Obama’s secretary of State. On the other hand, she works with her husband and her Senate ties in New York and with leaders around the world. She works and stays with the game and sometimes fails her way to success. She is becoming more impressive and indispensable in American political terms even as she becomes more flawed and marked by faults of various kinds.
11. President Nicolas Sarkozy has already sought to strengthen ties with the United States, has entertained the Pope, has married a supermodel the whole world has seen nude and is worth seeing nude, has deported Gypsies and taken action against Moslem corruption of French culture. There is something of La Royaume de La Belle France about him. He needs to hunt and got to Church once in a while in very expensive clothes (seriously) In doing all these other things so far he has avoided brutality, great scandal and the greater than necessary abuse of human rights. He will chafe against the European bit distance himsel from the UK when he can in conscience and is the first real chance that French royalist gradualists have had for a negotiation towards their better goals. Sarkozy is farther from being able to adress his principal goals than most world leaders and he is a cautious man as regards policy. Sarkozy has not been able to bridge both the Obama gap and the language gap and forge more ties with the United Statres of America. It seems to be a case where events are pushing him into the European mainstream so far.
12. Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu ( בִּנְיָמִין “בִּיבִּי” נְתַנְיָהוּ ), also Binyamin Netanyahu) was born on October 21, 1949 and is the ninth and current Prime Minister of Israel and importantly Netanyahu is the first and only Israeli prime minister born in Israel after the establishment of the State of Israel. He achieved this distinction with his earlier Prime Ministry but it is still his distinction currently. With strong social and educational ties to America he holds varied roles in the small and complex country at the unique crossroads of the old world simultaneoulsy serving as the Chairman of the Likud Party, as a member of the Knesset, as the Health Minister of Israel, as the Pensioner Affairs Minister of Israel and as the Economic Strategy Minister of Israel. He will surely struggle in the current environment but if the right changes occur he will lead Israel and the region in capitalizing on this set of changes. Netanyahu must currently deal with an American regime which is completely antithetical to a peaceful and secure Israel and where he also lacks a wide variety of good options. However, as I type this Hezbolla ministers have resigned in Lebanon and there are forces struggling to assert a new order in the Middle East.
13. Bill Gates, William Henry “Bill” Gates III was born October 28, 1955 and is a great creator and leader who is now largely redefining philanthropy. He is best known for being long time chairman of Microsoft, the uniquley important software company he founded in a powerful partnership with Paul Allen. He and his wife Melinda are partners in love and parenthood but their partnership has also been very significant for the world as they steer and an enormous empire of giving and activism. They are financialy able to do this as Bill Gates is ranked among the richest people in the world and was ranked as the wealthiest overall from 1995 to 2009, excluding 2008, when he fell to third. During his career at Microsoft, Gates Gates built the giant into an essential part of computing around the world as both CEO and later chief software archirect, and remains the largest individual shareholder with more than 8 percent of the common stock. Perhaps he may be drawn back into the corporate leadership he knows well and into new forms of social leadership. In the meanwhile he is likely to have a profound impact on America and the world as they find their way forward with Microsoft, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, their cooperation with Warren Buffet and other challenges that come along. Bill Gates is becoming that kind of litmus test of America’s potential to adapt and survive. He has social moementum which could be harnessed for the good of society by skillfull social change in America but has long struggled under great suspicions. America does not believe it has to choose between people like Billl Gates and more evil leaders. America believes it does not need leaders.
14. Steve Jobs will use the Gates retirement to pull ahead. However at the personal level he is a darker figure than he was as a youth. Even as a youth he was no saint. But he is brilliant and a vital national asset like Gate in that way. Apple, the Next flop, Pixar and more Apple. He is a compelling genius in technology and industry who chose the pirates flag as the icon for Mac development and who instead of a big charity has a liver transplant where someone had to die for him to live. He has ads for Apple that mostly attack PCs and Microsoft’s Windows. He is easily compared to Gates and has always been loved by the cool kids in American society as it is. Steve Jobs cannot be dismissed as someone to watch. In the layering of this post it happened in 2011 but before Sept. 11 that Jobs took a leave of absnce from Apple indefinitely for health reasons.
15. Carl Svanberg This Swede Chairman of BP and other corporations is one to watch. Low profile and clever he is not the man to forget. Svanberg did graduate work and earned a Master’s degree in Applied Physics after a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Scandinavian institutions of quality and honorary doctorates from other institutions. Svanberg remains a major player in high tech industry in the Norse Lands remaining a well invested director on the board of telecom firm Ericcson where he served as CEO from April 8 to December 31 of 2009. He is also on the board of several other companies and maintains some of the agressiveness of the ice hockey player he once was. He rubbed several people in Louisiana the wrong way during the BP crisis.
16. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, 반기문 (潘基文) This cool professional can think more clearly about the Middle East but his bones and instincts know less than any previous Secretary General. On the other hand this man from East Asia is bringing to 37 years of relevant service both in Government and on the global stage and having served in Korea as Director-General of American Affairs he is trying to educate the West about the Far East in his quiet way — Good luck with that! On 1 January 2007, Ban Ki-moon of the Republic of Korea became the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations . He was as well as being Director-General of American Affairs, his country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade. In that Korean ministry he had held responsibility for a variety of portfolios, including Foreign Policy Adviser to the President, Chief National Security Adviser to the President and Deputy Minister for Policy Planning . As a diplomat he has lived in New Delhi, Washington D.C. and Vienna as well visiting many other places. He is married to his high school sweetheart and they have two children and is believed to be trilingual – French being the third language. He was educated in Korea and a t Harvard in the USA.
17. Hu JinTao 胡锦涛 is The Premiere in the People’s Republic of China will continue to try to develop the Presidency and Premiere powersharing and to increase the importance of the Congress of People’s deputies if he can. He will try to restore full regularity to the Chinese governments by incorporating Imperial and Confucian elements. He will reform the Party and execute those who commit crimes which bring the party into ill regard. Minority and foreign relations will be a continuous challenge and he will foster the development of Chinese urban consumer life to make China less dependent on Exports.
18. Timothy Geithner One to watch! He is an opportunist with ideals and may do much or little depending on where money moves relative to him.
19. Al Franken A man to watch. He is clever, rooted, articulate and conscientious. He is also a bitter angry and reckless man. Which guy will show up for the next eleven years? Franken is a comedian who won a bitterly contested recount in his Senatorial election when elected with President Barack Hussein Obama. He has authored books of rather nasty tempered political humor. He is not so far either a substantial statesman nor a total joke in the US Senate.
20. Barney Frank Money, New England and Homosexuality will increasingly become a portfolio of political expertise and experience for this man. He will grow in stature on these things and lose relevance on others as often happens to older politicians in legislatures. However, he could seize on on some successful other cause and make himself known in other circles.
21. Vladimir Putin ,Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin Влади́мир Влади́мирович Пу́тин, will remain Putin while he remains alive. He has many hopes he still cannot really do anything to achieve but he keeps chipping away at the obstacles. He likes healing and building better but could become a figure of destruction fomenting hate — it just depends on too many factors to sort out here.
22. Bobby Jindal has earned some credibility with Louisiana in the BP crisis but not enough to waste. Look to see him as the Indian-American, Louisiana and Oxford alumni Jindal unless a big chance at being a national Republican Icon is very clear and near. Bobby Jindal has just come out with a book titled Leadership in Crisis which is part political memoir and part summary of the BP crisis and part autobiography. I have also met with him briefly since I first published this blog post and we discussed some issues relating to the spill. This was in a public venue in Abbeville’s A.A. Comeaux Recreation Center after a speech and did not get into his secretary’s permanent log. But I thought it was a useful exchange.
23. Bill Richardson will do a variety of things in New Mexico, America and the world. But if constitutional change comes to the USA then expect him to rise to new prominence as a major framer and negotiator for the constitutional rights and role of Aboriginal Americans and their Nations.
24. Bill Clinton will become a very prominent broker if constitutional change comes and his health holds out. Otherwise expect him to continue to fade away more and more with occasional flashes of influence. Bill Clinton is busy lately. He participated in the 2010 elections which were one of the biggest defeats in the history of the Congressional Democrats. He has worked for Haiti but has seen lots of mediocre and poor results. However, like his wife he is always growing in experience and sophisitication.
25. Osama Bin Laden will become more of an icon as the Obama presidency progresses if his health holds out. His second act will get under way. Is he a living legend or a dead one? That basic query is the question many can’t help asking and if he is alive what is he really doing. He may well be behind the rebuilding of his movements in the Arabian Peninsula and Afghanistan. He is a powerful symbol of what it means to be committed to a cause over a life time.
What does it mean to pick on a few players in the world and recognize their importance to our future? It does not mean that they are the only participants in the future of our world who will matter.