Now more than any time in recent memory, the planets, moons and stars of the political and geopolitical universe have aligned themselves so that all great outcomes -- from middle class prosperity to Middle East peace -- can best be achieved by following a single New Year's resolution:
2011 must he The Year of Think Big.
Presidents, prime ministers, potentates, powers elite and political hacks will slowly but inevitably realize that their old ways -- pursuing narrow, parochial self-interests to achieve narrow but self-satisfying political and geopolitical results -- is, well, so last decade. And mainly, it no longer works. In our online world, leaders are discovering they have neighborly interests with neighbors half a world away.
Welcome to the Age of New Solutions. By Thinking Big, we can finally start solving problems we used to think were unsolvable. Such as:
-- 1. The Middle East's most intractable problem, the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate.
The Bush era's incremental pursuit of a roadmap to peace taught us one thing -- this approach won't work. Because those extremists who oppose peace on both sides (the Palestinian Hamas and the Israeli zealots of the religious right) will use every incremental step as a roadblock to blow up the process. But this crisis never needed a roadmap -- because the final map has long been clear and understood by all parties.
So all parties must think big and draw the final map -- and then work out the security details. There will be a Palestine that consists of significant desirable territory on the West Bank and also the strip known as Gaza. Jerusalem must be Israel's capital; and East Jerusalem must be an internationally secured home for Arabs. Finally, the Golan Heights that was once Syria's must be forever demilitarized. The question to be resolved comes down to creating lasting security guarantees and long-term prosperity to peoples who have only known bloodshed and bitterness.
-- 2. The War on Terror's most intractable problem, the mess in Afghanistan and the terror incubator that is the tribal lands next door in Pakistan.
Western Europe's cities currently remain under great threat from Muslim militants trained in Pakistan/Afghanistan and if anything, the threat may be greater now than it was even a year ago. Yet Europeans are folding up their NATO commitment to Afghanistan and going home. They are leaving it to the United States to keep them safe by waging unmanned drone air strikes in Pakistan and maybe unspoken occasional ground hit-and-run forays into the tribal lands. But that can't do the job alone. And Pakistan's government does little to help; its intelligence agency has pro-Taliban sympathizers. Pakistan only fears one foe: its other next-door neighbor, India.
But Europe's capitals will never be safe unless its leaders dare to think big now. That means new compacts guaranteeing Pakistan continent of allies -- if it moves assertively to turn off its terrorism incubator, Waziristan. But that first requires Europe, the U.S. and the world move positively with India to solve its age-old regional hostility by forging a new economic prosperity on the now-nuclear subcontinent.
-- 3. Made in the USA: Middle Class America's most intractable problem, reversing its comparative economic decline compared to wealthy Americans and forging true prosperity.
Viewed from the eyes of the middle class, things have gotten much worse. To keep their small tax cut, the middle class must go further into debt to pay for tax breaks for the wealthy that inherit $5 million estates. Working class union members agree to give up salary gains they got in their contract -- to keep plants open. Wall Street elites get million dollar bonuses despite federal bailouts of their companies because, it was promised in their contracts. Yet in tough times, the middle class has been increasingly (see also: mind-bogglingly) voting for the party whose policies are crafted to widen the gap in favor of the wealthy: the Republicans.
But here's the biggest of the Big Think solutions: Totally revamp the U.S. income tax system -- by scrapping all of the tax deductions, dodges, shelters and loopholes and creating just a few lower brackets.
We have arrived at the intersection of Think Big and Keep It Simple.
Martin Schram writes political analysis for Scripps Howard News Service. E-mail him at email@example.com.