Atlantis Lands, Manifest Destiny Ends
Plato, writing of the mythical nation of Atlantis, said the island was swallowed by the ocean "...in a single day and night of misfortune."
Today, with the landing of the aptly named shuttle Atlantis, America's leadership in space has vanished just as quickly and perhaps just as permanently.
We are a different America now. We once believed in manifest destiny, a notion that our nation could remake the world. America was exceptional. We were the last great hope.
In the modern era, space exploration was at the very least an unconcious continuation of manifest mestiny. Space, that "final frontier," was surely the realm of America.
Now, if we need to put people in space, we will hitch rides with the Russians or others who still recognize the importance of holding the high ground in space.
High ground we've abdicated.
Others will argue that we'll be back. We will resume our leadership role. Perhaps. But just as the kingdom of Atlantis, real or mythical, vanished into the abyss, America, the world's last great hope, may follow suit.
Can a nation with leaders who find playing politics more important than avoiding an imminent financial calamity possibly lead and guide the world again? Or has our day come and gone?
Stay tuned. We may have that answer sooner than we expect.