SEERCAST® September, 2001: Connecting the Dots
© by Morris E. Ruddick
President of The Ruddick Int'l Group, Denver
Anticipating change. Understanding the times. Defining the issues. Responding with the big picture accurately in focus. What global decision-maker hasn't sought to better grasp the context of geopolitical and economic trends as a basis for wise, long-term plans and decisions?
Earlier this year, in an effort to better understand and anticipate the changes of
significance, the Ruddick Int'l Group launched its sponsorship of Seercast®, a
forecast of change and the issues driving the change. Issues of global significance.
As planning, research and strategy development consultants, our orientation and approach has been to evaluate opportunity, forecast trends and recommend strategies based on a realistic assessment of the big picture. Corporate decisions have never operated in a vacuum. Our two and half decades of serving global operations, has resulted in a perspective that views geopolitical and economic developments being driven by subtle religious, ethnic and ideological factors. This world-view challenges popular geopolitical models and mind-sets with a radical stance to what we view as the causes versus the results of global change. Seercast®, as such, is a means to monitor and dig more deeply into the issues, changes and dynamics impacting the course of world events.
Our initial panel for this forecast was organized and interviewed during August of 2001. Results to questions posed to this panel were all returned by September 5th. Then suddenly, the world was stunned with the events of September 11, 2001. That date marked the abrupt entrance into a time of change. It was a momentous paradigm shift for the free world.
While the jury is still out on the extensive impact of that tragic day, understand that waves of change will characterize the days ahead. The reality is that the dynamics behind the September 11th atrocities began long before that fateful day. That event was an unmasking of the reality of our premise that geopolitical and economic affairs are innately driven by complex religious, cultural and ideological factors. Like the geologic plates that shift over time prior to an actual earthquake, old assumptions have been giving way to new realities. More adjustments can be expected. The paradigm constituting the nature and order of conducting the business of nations and enterprise will never quite be the same.
Change will impact the foundational premises driving the infrastructures of the world's major systems. Significant changes affecting global power, control and resources. New alliances and conflicts between peoples, organizations, economies and nations will emerge. Reversals, discontinuities and shortages can be expected. But there will also be opportunity and areas impervious to the disruptions.
Seercast® has been designed to provide global decision-makers who need to better discern opportunity and avoid the pitfalls associated with the rapidly emerging changes of this era, with strategic insights and perspective to trends joining geopolitical, technological, economic, social, ideological and industry developments.
Results from the initial Seercast® panel were untainted by the events of September 11th. These results therefore provided insightful clues into our interpretation of the attacks on America, as well as an unbiased wisdom needed to discern the implications for what can be expected in the days ahead -- and as the foundation to the thinking behind our current forecast.
The professional backgrounds of the panelists had a focus of corporate CEOs, executives and entrepreneurs. There was also representation from administrators, executives and consultants from humanitarian organizations, government agencies and politics, technology, the media, education, health care, finance, and military organizations. Participants in the panel were from North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
A series of questions opened with a request for panelists to rate the importance -- the perceived impact -- that 23 individual issues would have on the course of world events five years from now. The factors included everything from new technology development to civil unrest, the flow of investment capital, to e-commerce and media bias.
The strongest rating went to religious and ethnic conflicts. That result upholds our firm's worldview of religious, cultural and ideological factors being the essential drivers impacting geopolitical and economic developments.
Yet, with the panel clearly discerning this pivotal issue prior to the September 11th massacre, its expression through terrorism was not as strongly recognized. This pre-September 11th panel gave only moderate importance to the "impact of terrorist strategies." Those on the panel who did deem it significant as a whole, were panelists from the Middle East.
The importance of the impact that can be expected from religious and cultural conflicts was followed closely by the strongly scored factors of globalization; energy resources; water and food resources; and economic downturns and disruptions.
These top-line results identify the primary drivers impacting near-term world events. They indicate that near-term global developments will pivot on the issues of religious/cultural struggles; the efforts of increasingly more groups to operate and impact things globally; the availability of resources; and economic discontinuities.
Another key question asked panelists to identify what they considered most significant in changing the nature and order of global relationships and practices. In order of prominence, the most significant issues selected by this panel, were in order of importance:
- Religious and ethnic conflicts
- Global resource availability and distribution
- Technology ownership and the flow of venture and investment capital
- Geopolitical alliances, power shifts and regulatory issues.
So, after identifying key issues of global developments and events, panelists were asked to project what would be most significant in CHANGING the nature and order of global relationships and practices. Reinforcing the response to the most significant issues, the number one factor of future global change was discerned as being religious and ethnic conflicts. In concert with the issues identified, the panel indicated next that global resource availability would bear significantly on global practices and relations during the near term. This was followed by new technology ownership, along with those who are in control of the means to commercialize. And the next factor the panel projected to impact change in global relationships and practices was the unfolding of geopolitical alliances, power shifts
and regulatory issues.
So what does this all mean?
First, the balance of power globally, as well as the nature and order of conducting the business of nations and enterprise will be strongly influenced by the course taken by religious, cultural and ideological conflicts. In interpreting the results within the context of the horrific tragedy of September 11th, this means that the network of terrorists behind these atrocities, driven by a misguided religious fanaticism, have declared an ideological war upon the free world. That factor in itself will reshape the way globalization takes place.
This also means that the stability of free world nations has become far more fragile. The impact of religious and ethnic conflicts on the world's infrastructures and economies will no doubt have a rippling effect -- leading to economic disruptions, as well as regional energy, food and water shortages.
Global relationships will become more polarized; being strongly impacted by ideological and religious orientations. Technology and the commercialization process, along with those who control the resources will become increasingly significant in determining the associations and alliances that will make a difference globally.
SEERCAST® Strategic Implications
Understanding the Times and the Issues
We have entered a time of unusual global change. Changes of significance in magnitude. Changes in the status quo. The pace of change is being quickened. Responding to change requires change. Adjustments are needed to how we view and respond to the principles and practices of life and business.
Long ago, it was written that no one puts new wine into old wineskins. The new wine would burst the old skins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine must be put into new wineskins. The framework of life as we have known it underwent a major paradigm shift on September 11th. The framework of response will require new wineskins to be able to handle the impact of the incredible transition we have experienced. New forms to handle new functions. The change emerging addresses the very principles and values upon which the free world is based. The change is upon us and can no longer be ignored or swept under the rug.
Religious and Ethnic Conflicts
This religious/ideological war, driven by Islamic radicals, has been underway for some time. The war declared by Mr. Bush after the murderous attack on September 11th, was simply a recognition and response to the unmasking and manifestation of an existing war. A war that most within the free world have wanted to ignore or chalk up to being isolated happenstances conducted by independent "extremists." It is and has been a movement,
rather than the criminal activities of individuals and splinter groups.
The magnitude of this movement, as evidenced by the deadly, coordinated scheme of September 11th, no longer allows the matter being swept under the rug. It is rightly perceived as a concerted trans-national effort, that is challenging the free world. It is the movement behind the actions that misappropriated and nationalized oil operations that began in 1951 in Iran. It is the same initiative behind the Iranian revolution and declarations of Jihad that resulted in 52 US diplomatic personnel being seized and held captive. It is the same movement reflected by the Palestinian hijacking and killings in the late 60s. It comprises the same objective behind Iraq's attempt to win control of the oil-rich lands of Kuwait and Saudi-Arabia in the early 90s. It reflects the same cowardice that took the innocent lives of the passengers in TWA flight 800 over Long Island Sound. And, it is unquestionably the same conflict that has raged against Israel since their independence in 1948.
The movement is one to mobilize the radical segments of Islam to seize control of the Western world. Control of the free world with its Judeo-Christian foundations. With this initiative in mind, a glimpse at Israel is important to understanding future implications of this movement. It is essential in forecasting ensuing global trends for our day.
Key Free-World Forecast Indicator. Israel is a bellwether nation. For the most part, Israel's cultural ideologies are forerunners to what can be expected for the free world. Economically, for such a small nation, Israel is an aberration, an anomaly within the Western world. Its impact on global markets during recent years is nothing short of astounding. Its venture capital market has been second only to what has been coming from Silicon Valley.
The economic, judicial and governmental systems of the free world are derivations drawn from Hebrew tradition and culture. For those interested in what the future holds for the free world, Israel bears watching.
The counterpoint to everything Israel represents is found rooted in Islamic tradition. This should not be construed as an anti-Arab statement. It is not at all intended that way. But most growth within the Islamic movement represents a dramatic counterpoint to the foundations of Western civilization. It is a fact. Globally, Islam is comprised of four factions. Two of those factions are radical, and bent upon the annihilation of not only what they refer to as the Christian and Jewish infidels, but the entire Judeo-Christian way of life. These two fanatical sects of Islam are represented by almost half the world-wide Muslim population. And they are tied to significant financial and infrastructure support from within moderate Muslim circles.
The radical segments of Islam represent a multi-national movement attributing the "bad" of their lifestyles to Jews and Christians. A movement calling for the elimination of Jews and Christians -- and with that Americans. A movement unashamedly training children to be terrorists. A movement with masses of their populations actively dancing with joy upon getting the news of the calamity of September 11th. The hostile, lawless factions of Islam
represent a bottomless pit that is hostile to the values, ideals and way of life of the free world. It is outright anarchy in the worst sense.
This is a force that will either have to be resisted or we will be dominated by it. This is a reality. This is a stark reality that Western governments and businesses must begin factoring into their planning and decision-making. It is also a key factor in evaluating the nature and course to be expected from world events.
The Objective Versus The Strategy. It needs to be recognized that terrorism is the strategy. The objective is free world domination. The struggle against terrorism is grounded in a clash of cultures. It is a clash of cultures, that can be dealt with ultimately only by addressing it on its own level -- ideologically and spiritually. There may be of necessity military, economic and political responses. But realistically speaking the REAL long-term war will be the one waged on the ideological and spiritual level.
And THAT is the wake-up call, we within Western civilization need to embrace.
Understanding the foundations to the ideals and way of life of the free world will be essential to preserving freedom and the positive tenants of free enterprise. This will involve a re-orientation from the political correct mind-set, which challenges or otherwise negates these spiritual and moral values and traditions. We have entered an era in which the "middle ground" is radically shrinking. And those proponents of the way of life of the
free world need to clearly understand the distinctions and consequences to the sides in this division. It's time to stop apologizing for what we stand for. We need to understand the times, to know what to do.
Panelists selected globalization as the second most important driver impacting the course of near-term world events. In interpreting what this means, keep in mind our premise that geopolitical and economic developments are being driven by subtle religious, ethnic and ideological factors.
There is no question that the world is shrinking and becoming integrally connected. The most obvious initiative in globalization is the spread of Western culture and enterprise. An initiative that carries strong ideological implications. However, there is a counter movement underway in this globalization. It is strongly evidenced in Europe, Africa, North American, Asia, as well as the Middle East. It is the manifestation of the growth of an anti-Western, anti-American segment of Islam. This is not a splinter group, but a significant segment of Islam. A movement whose adherents responded to the World Trade Center massacre by celebrating and dancing in the streets -- from upscale districts in Cairo, to Palestinian settlements in Israel, to the streets of those the US calls Middle Eastern allies, to Central Asia. It is a global movement that is against the very way of life represented by those who come from a Judeo-Christian heritage.
Because of the anti Judeo-Christian nature of this religious/cultural war, I project another dimension that can be expected from this emerging conflict. There will come alliances between totalitarian regimes, current and former communists and Islamics. Apart from the terrorist uprisings, THESE alliances will be economic in nature. Within their agendas will be a strong tie to energy resources, as well as the illegal drug trade. While expediency
of the US military response to the September 2001 attack calls for the gathering of precarious coalitions, as time progresses the middle-ground will shrink with the dividing line becoming more distinct. The dividing line between the free world and those opposing the free world. There are similarly destabilizing issues emerging holding the potential of shifts of power within heretofore free nations resulting in divisions between key Western
nations. The upshot will be further destabilization economically.
Again, it is important to recognize the difference between the objectives and the strategies in evaluating responses. These changes will not be driven by civil unrest. Civil unrest is a strategy being fueled to serve the objectives of the war being waged against the Western world. The changes ahead will not be driven by the disparity between the rich and poor. These changes will be driven by the ideological war that has already been underway,
that was unmasked by the mass murder of thousands of innocent people on September 11th. There is a wedge firmly in place between the free world and those opposing the free world. The issue of civil unrest and the disparity between the rich and the poor are the result of the ideological guerilla warfare the Western world has been unwilling to come to grips with, until now.
Resources and Economic Disruptions
Conflicts will take on new dimensions beyond military might. As already noted, they will also be economic. With that, is the expectation of discontinuities erupting over critical resources, especially those of oil and water. Currently Russia/CIS and friendly Islamic nations hold the preponderance of the world's current known oil and gas reserves. There is a shakiness in the Western world's alliances with these nations which in turn is
tied to the balance of power tied to the supply and the price of energy commodities. Some of these major energy producers have entered into the coalition against terrorism for expediency. And some very reluctantly. At best these alliances are fragile and temporary. OPEC and former communist states bear watching.
Similarly, many of the anti-Western rogue movements are being financed by a well-developed global drug trade. A drug trade with trade routes and networks extending from South America to Africa to Asia. A drug trade that puts this extensive anti-Western network of Islamic radicals in business with compartmentalized networks of the criminal underground. Networks of corruption whose objectives are not only to fuel and finance their evil efforts, but to undermine the systems and infrastructures of the free world. These alliances represent significant destabilizing factors and will have their impact on free world economies.
Geopolitical Alliances, Power Shifts and Regulatory Issues
As global seats of power and alliances undergo unexpected shifts and alignments, the emerging dynamic of economies without borders will result in relationships and opportunities transcending the norm. Decentralization of activities will result in entrepreneurial endeavors thriving. Unique systems of distribution will result in the emergence of alternate economic systems. Systems that bypass the constraints and order sought by treaties, alliances, regulatory issues and cartels. Again, there will be power shifts that come from agreements between transnational groups. Power shifts that create opportunity for some, with disruptions for others. Simultaneously, technology will play an important
role for not only the free-world, but for new forms of both provincial and transnational approaches to mercantilism.
SEERCAST® STRATEGIC IMPLICATIONS: Knowing What To Do
Realigning Mind-Sets and World Views
Knowing what to do, begins with realigning our world-views. Our mind-sets. Adjusting to the realities of our day. There is a need for a war time mentality. A mind-set that approaches relationships, opportunity and basic operations recognizing that these are critical, pivotal and perilous times. The margin for error is much less than it has been in the past. Wartime is a serious and sobering time. It's not a time to assume.
It is a time to move onto the offensive. This means more decentralization. More cooperation. More security.
Adjusting to the realities of the day will involve a need to recognize the enemy. It is unfortunate that the Western world, in its good intentions to foster peace, avoid conflict and appease, has largely overlooked the reality of an emerging enemy. It is also unfortunate that the enemy the West has failed to recognize has long viewed the West as its enemy -- and has been unwavering in its single-minded pursuit of its objectives, with the shrewd utilization of its strategies. In an editorial by Forbes magazine publisher (The Enemy Beneath, Forbes October 15, 2001), Rich Karlgaard observes:
What worries me most about Osama bin Laden and this network of terror is that it is following the Silicon Valley model of decentralization and disruption. Think of bin Laden as a venture capitalist -- the venture capitalist of murder and global terror. Like any other successful venture capitalist, he attracts people willing to commit their lives. He doles out money, but only in dribs. He demands that his ventures, if you'll permit me to call them such, stay lean, squeeze pennies and meet milestones. Above all, they must change the rules of engagement. Through clenched teeth one is forced to admit that bin Laden gets bang for his buck. It's what Fairchild did. It's what Apple did. It's what Microsoft did.
When we knocked out the Soviet Union, we did so by harnessing entrepreneurship and decentralization. Sure we had a Pentagon, and more important a President and Secretary of Defense in the 1980s with iron wills. But the chip figures hugely here. It gave our military a decisive advantage over theirs. Yet it was invented by young men in a little shed 3,000 miles away. Nobody from the top planned it.
Now we have an enemy who attacks us from below using disruptive and centralized techniques. This puts America in an odd position. I don't like the looks of this. Seeing how crazy and scattered entrepreneurs have beaten the crap out of monoliths over the last 44 years in almost every field, I don't like the situation. Not one bit. I have no doubt America will prevail in the end, if only because more people in the world want our lifestyle than want theirs. We have the world on our side. But the actual terms of engagement work against us. For some time, it's going to be ugly.
Entrepreneurial strategies are hard to beat. Historically bin Laden has not been the first to employ entrepreneurialism in their goals. Hitler and Al Capone did as well. But both were defeated by those who understand the entrepreneurial mind, Elliott Ness and Winston Churchhill. (Bolton and Thompson, Entrepreneurs: Talent, Temperament and Technique, pgs 194-195, Butterworth and Heinemann Publishing, Oxford)
In recognizing the enemy, it will be important to maintain the perspective of the spiritual foundation to this battle. We need to grasp the nature and order of this war, the playing field the enemy has chosen to operate on and the rules of engagement. Several years ago I was on the Political and Public Affairs committee of a major energy trade association. I recall the committee chairman commenting in jest, that if the communist world ever announced it was going to hang every capitalist; that the first person to be expected after such an announcement would be an American rope salesman. Understanding the times and the rules of engagement calls for a shift in this element of truth in this observation.
The enemy infrastructure needs to be recognized and uncovered. Their hidden activities need to be brought to light. The propaganda war needs to be neutralized. Similarly, in our own planning we need to have watchtowers built. We need to provide a means of early warning. We need to bolster security, with new, more effective means of protection. And we need to employ effectual means of masking our own intentions and diverting the intentions of the enemy.
A realistic war-time mind-set must recognize that what we are facing is an unconventional warfare setting. There will indeed be conventional elements to it, but the central thread of the enemy strategy is one of unconventional tactics and warfare. One that does not play by the rules. One bent upon undermining our way of life. We are operating in an environment of guerrilla warfare and terrorist activities. Responding will incorporate a mind-set reflecting
counter-insurgency tactics and strategies.
Foundational Proactive Initiatives
The response of the free world has got to go beyond the military and economic responses of nations. Counter-responses must involve a pivotal role from the world of business. This means a re-evaluation of the support of initiatives that in the long-term feeds anarchy.
Knowing what to do will involve an adjustment to blindly submitting to what has prevailed as political correctness. Political correctness has taken a turn. Political correctness needed to take a turn. Political correctness cannot be dictated by the media elite. Business needs to become more pro-active. Business needs to be buying advertising in media venues which not only targets potential buyers, but advertising that promotes and supports the future of the opportunities represented by the values and foundations of the Judeo-Christian heritage.
Heretofore, corporate responsibility has been primarily driven by the precepts of political correctness; by lofty ideals rather than practical realities. Corporate philanthropy needs to re-evaluate.
Knowing what to do will involve addressing the issue of poverty realistically. Giving focus to humanitarian efforts that engender lasting solutions. Indeed, providing aid in crisis situations, but for the most part imparting the basic principles needed in support of micro-enterprises and entrepreneurial opportunities. Solutions that foster right values and family and community relationships.
The faith-initiatives move presents principles that are worthy of being embraced. In light of the September 2001 paradigm shift, the faith-initiatives effort holds fresh potential for cooperative marketplace, governmental and faith-based efforts. Efforts involving cooperative and shared agendas between governmental, business and faith-based organizations. Cooperative alliances, agendas and programs serving communities experiencing adversities, distress, hardships and disasters. Agendas and programs with pro-active solutions. Solutions that provide short-term crisis-level aid, but also follow the premise of teaching a man to fish, rather than leaving him with a fish only to be hungry again the next day. Alliances that serve our own communities, but also offer programs outside our borders. Programs that indeed help while establishing dignity and the bonding of relationships. Programs designed to foster the
freedoms and values represented by the heritage shared by the free world.
Technology, the Flow of Capital and Entrepreneurialism
Knowing what to do will result in aggressively promoting the principles of entrepreneurialism. The local, decentralized, provincial nature of entrepreneurialism, coupled with advances in communication, transportation and distribution will result in a variety of alternatives in bringing products to market. Alternatives representing potential and opportunity that will bypass traditional methods. Technology, entrepreneurialism and new sources of funding will find common ground. They will open the way for unusual opportunities in times of adversity. Opportunity, that in many ways will be impervious the disruptions in traditional approaches to the nature and order of conducting business.
A recently released book entitled Entrepreneurs: Talent, Temperament and Technique (Bolton and Thompson, Butterworth and Heinemann Publishing, Oxford) states that "entrepreneurship is the single, most important factor in deciding whether or not a region or community achieves its full potential, both economically and socially." This observation is true whether you are dealing with prosperous areas or deprived ones, whether it involves the developed world or the developing world. The authors point out that entrepreneurs are making the difference in regions as diverse as the Silicon Valley and the Central African Republic. In application, the principles are the same.
Their penetrating analysis notes that "entrepreneurship also determines whether successful regions stay that way. Businesses and societies are able to continue fairly well until they are threatened by change." And change is certainly the byword, with the paradigm and power shifts taking place across the globe.
So who is the entrepreneur? Here's the Bolton/Thompson definition:
An entrepreneur is a person who habitually creates and innovates to build something of recognized value around perceived opportunities.
Entrepreneurialism reflects not only the sound principles behind the establishment of startup operations, but represents a counterpoint to stodgy corporate bureaucracy, in which the reinvigoration of life is infused into the programs and policies of large organizations. It involves the establishment of business incubators. It is also closely tied to innovation and technology. The entrepreneurial organization -- however large or small -- fosters the
development and commercialization of technological innovations. Entrepreneurialism is fueled by and capitalizes on change.
After Sam Walton of Wal-Mart stores had 78 of their huge chain of stores in place, it took him ten years to build to the point of doing $150 million annually in revenues. BUT, with one warehouse and one web site, Amazon.Com did the same thing in just three years. E-Commerce is bringing about radical change in the nature and order of doing business. For the first time in history, with very little capital down, a global business can be established from any point in
the globe that is connected to the internet. Customer mailing lists are available. Web sites can attract customers from all over the world. Despite the upsets and disruptions, we have entered a time replete with new models for pursuing opportunity.
Micro-enterprises represent a very basic form of entrepreneurialism AND an important alternate economic system. Micro-enterprises can take a variety of forms. Micro-enterprise programs are proving successful in areas that are otherwise experiencing economic downturns. They can be individual or home-based enterprises, like a seamstress shop in a village. Or a vendor on a local or city street corner. The concept of micro-enterprises may involve neighborhood or community-run businesses established in economically distressed areas, with distribution outlets operating outside the distressed area.
Community Builders. The opportunity for entrepreneurial pursuits parallels and is a part of community building. Historically, the US was built on these values and principles. Values and principles tied to what many have referred to as rugged individualism. Not to be confused with the type of independence reflected by unconcerned self-interest. We each are a part of something much larger. Responding to the movement bent on destroying the West's
way of life, will involve both a return to the basics that gave rise to this way of life. If there is to be a common thread operating within the faith-initiatives activities, it is community building. Re-embracing the values that are foundational to what made America become known as the land of the free and home of the brave. Businesses need to operate on the basis of and become pro-active advocates of community building. Promoting the essence of what was needed to successfully birth and grow communities during America's settlement years. These were community ventures that served. Ventures that were in touch. People ventures. People who operated on the principles of caring, commitment, determination, innovation, risk, vision, and solid community and spiritual values.
Embracing our Roots
Knowing what to do in the tenuous times we have entered, will incorporate a return to the basics of our culture and ideologies. We need to return to the God of our fathers. The God of the Judeo-Christian faith. The war unleashed against us is designed to annihilate Christians and Jews; and to undermine the way of life we have taken for granted. The Koran is laced with admonitions to wage war and to kill Christians and Jews. Love is not mentioned once in the Koran. We need to become unapologetic in the distinctives of the Judeo-Christian heritage and our individual faith. In the distinctives representing the foundations to our way of life. Christians need to once again become familiar with the rich heritage
evident in the Jewish roots to the Christian faith. Jews need to recognize the shared beliefs and values Christians have in the T'nach (Old Testament) and the difference between Churchianity (the intellectualizing and practice of religion without an authentic, committed faith) and those who are genuine Believers.
On August 29th, Michael Freund, former deputy director of Communications and Policy Planning for Israel's Prime Minister's Office wrote with prophetic overtones in the Jerusalem Post. He observed that the issues being faced by Israel's battle against terrorism is one faced by the free world. His admonition was that we have tried everything
else. It is now time, for Jews and Christians alike, to turn to prayer. He wrote that:
Modern solutions have failed us miserably in recent years, with diplomacy and statesmanship bringing
us all to the edge of the abyss. Perhaps it is time to do what people in trouble have always done in their hour of need -- turn to their Father in Heaven and plead for help. The Palestinians are now openly declaring that we are all potential targets.
Mr. Freund quoted the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine saying, "The flames shall reach every Zionist everywhere."
Mr. Freund concluded with: "The fact is that for the past decade, we have given politics a chance, and it has failed us. Now is the time to give God a chance, for unlike politicians, He can always be relied upon to keep His word."
Uncanny, timely words of insight and wisdom. Israel is indeed a bellwether nation within the free world.
Knowing what to do will involve strengthening one's individual faith, and finding the common ground on which to strengthen the roots shared in our Judeo-Christian heritage. Christians and Jews alike need to return and embrace the wisdom of the ages found in the Bible; as well as regularly turning to prayer. There is a need to de-secularize our faith in the Lord, and began digging into the rich heritage and values that have made the free world so
distinctively to stand apart from the world of despots, crooks and radicals. We need to continue operating in unity with a sense of purpose that supercedes our individual frames of reference. A sense of purpose that gives heed to restructuring and restoring rather than just capitalizing on the momentum by riding the wave. A sense of purpose that understands, recognizes and responds to the realities and needs unfolding in the big picture.
As the writer said, these are times that try men's souls. And what is before us is a very real battle that is clearly spiritual and ideological in nature. A battle requiring, amidst everything else, a spiritual and ideological response.
In review, our perspective concludes that geopolitical and economic developments of this day are being driven by subtle religious, ethnic and ideological factors. This world-view reverses the stance of popular notions of geopolitical models and mind-sets with regard to what are viewed as the drivers versus the results of global change.
Enduring and realistic answers will begin with an understanding that the central issue is a religious-ideological conflict between Western civilization and forces that want to dominate and destroy it.
Beware of the propaganda machine that will evolve. It will be subtle. Not at all unlike the propaganda machine of Nazi Germany, which specialized in the concepts of the big lie and stereotyping to confuse and tie up policy coordination among the Allies. Like the recent bogus reports that went out blaming Israel for the World Trade Center tragedy. Be wary of the dissinformation to come. It will go well beyond an anti-American slant, as its purpose is
to destroy a way of life.
Recognize there can no longer be neutral ground. During WWII Switzerland claimed neutrality, and that neutrality served to extend the war against Hitler by two years. No more fence-sitters, either nationally or individually. The battle lines have been drawn. Appeasement serves only to foster the enemy's objectives. Understanding the enemy and the rules of engagement is not an option for corporate decision circles in the days ahead.
Watch developments with Israel. As a pivotal bellwether nation for the free-world, events in Israel portend developments that can be expected to ripple, sometimes with subtlety, sometimes with abruptness, throughout the rest of the Western world. Simultaneously, alliances and ventures with Israel will be harbingers for opportunity in global markets that are becoming increasingly unpredictable.
Expect major shifts in the status quo of what has previously been considered the solid ground of business opportunity. Keep an eye to entrepreneurially-driven ventures -- especially those that reflect innovations that can provide positive impact to community settings. Likewise, there will be key technologies that come forth providing solutions that bypass
problems that beset the basic infrastructures undergirding the free-world systems. The flow of capital will take on unorthodox directions and dimensions.
Fluctuations in the pricing and availability of key resources -- energy, food and water -- will gain in focus in the days ahead. Once again, technology development and ownership, along with the flow of capital will experience shifts in both the frameworks and seats of power that have heretofore controlled them.
On September 11th, 2001, religious and cultural dividing lines were drawn challenging the foundational values undergirding free enterprise and the societal freedoms Western society has come to take for granted. Responding realistically will involve a return to the foundations and values that gave rise to this way of life. The underlying drivers and issues for this day are spiritual and ideological. Without any apology, the Western world needs to return to the Lord. There is a need to acknowledge and embrace the spiritual and ideological roots of what gave rise to the distinctives that mark the difference between the free world and the non-free world. Embracing those distinctives will distinguish those who are at the forefront of the change and those who are whiplashed by it.
May God help us.