The most indicative terms to describe the American place in today's world are Power, ethics, and anarchy. Power is manifest in its capacity to push and shove as it wills. Without a mind at the helm power becomes anarchic. The situation in the world today is one of ethical confusion. This forces us to acknowledge that the world at present is prone to anarchy, a confused mix of what the poet Matthew Arnold called ignorant armies clashing by night.


It is not easy to parse this but it makes serious sense. Power in today's world is to be found mainly in the United States.

Current US military strength exceeds that of the seven nations beneath it. Dostoevsky's "anything is possible" applies in such a situation. Unchecked power is manifestly dangerous. Nothing is more unchecked than the United States under Trump.


Ethics is confused because like religion it is deemed a matter of personal preference. Professionally ethics is mainly the province of those responsible for determining standards within institutions. The lack of a clear and true awareness of what ethics is is a serious deficiency. A start at resolving the matter is a position that states that harm is the beginning point in determining good or evil, right or wrong.


Anarchy describes a condition in which power caroms about without any ethical compass.

If we think in terms of the triad power, ethics and anarchy, we have a way of evaluating what happened last night around the time President Trump and President Xi were finishing supper at what Trump calls the Winter White House.

Does ethics play a part in Trump's thinking?

Trump said his impulse to bomb the airfield where the attack originated was the sight of horrendous death being visited on beautiful Syrian children.

An ethic that feels that way about all harm and suffering is admirable. Trump used power thoughtfully, following options offered by the military. Few are saying the President did not act ethically and even thoughtfully. No one would suggest that his concern is universal.

It's the anarchy that remains

Power unchecked is like Hitler taking land at will.

It is like thinking you can stop the movement of people and building a huge wall for billions to prove it. It caroms around. The world is at the edge of anarchy. That should be a signal to be alert to possible harm that exceeds the normal by many degrees. We seem reduced to a hope that Trump will come to his senses. Or we hope the magical qualities in democracy and law will move us toward keeping power in check and paying attention to the ethical imperative to value all equally.