Friday, April 08, 2005

A Little Bit of Nostalgia

Democracy Arsenal, which I have linked to before, is one of those blogs conservatives need to read regularly to keep our foreign policy arguments sharp and clear. This group blog of foreign policy professionals are openly partisan Democrats, don't care much for George W. and are sometimes snarky about it, but share the relatively same vision of a muscular liberal internationalist foreign policy. They also adamantly oppose John Bolton's nomination as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. I disagree with plenty of what is said at DA, and I hope to spend some time challenging some of their own arguments.

In the meantime, Derek Chollet has a very cool "who's-who" round-up of Bush II's foreign policy team. Ever since I've began to regularly follow foreign affairs and American foreign policy, I've always been interested in the personalities that shape and influence foreign policy. I love to know where they studied, what degrees they've earned, how they built their careers, what schools of thought they come from, who they've worked under, what articles or books they've written, etc.

I think my interest in the "who's-who" aspect of U.S. foreign policy goes way back to my grade school and middle school days when I collected baseball and basketball cards and obsessively followed the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Chicago Bulls, and my ex-favorite NBAer, Grant Hill. Like any kid growing up playing baseball and basketball in a relatively serious environment (i.e. tournament team and American Legion baseball and CYO and public school league basketball), I liked to pattern my playing habits and style of play in both sports off of the great ones like Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey, Jr., Andy Pettite (the Yankee southpaw with the best pick-off move to first), Michael Jordan, Grant Hill, Penny Hardaway (remember him?), and Kobe Bryant. My success wasn't notable, but I held my own up through the varsity level in high school.

Getting back to foreign that my focus has shifted from athletics to academics, I see a definite parallel in how I modeled my athletic abilities after those top guns from the court and the diamond, to now, when I do a paper on the Iraq war and the role of the foreign policy bureaucracy or post a blog entry on whatever issue of the day I wish to discuss. Today I use the resources I have availabe to me - the newspapers, other blogs, journals, papers, books, government reports, etc - to help me write that paper or write a coherent post in the same way I'd go to the batting cage to work on my swing, run a couple miles on the track to build up stamina, hit the weights to add muscle, or watch video tape of the Chicago Bulls or own my own varsity basketball team to gain that competitive edge.

Although, I'm reluctant to admit that I find myself much more passionate about my academic and political pursuits than I ever really was with baseball and basketball. Don't get me wrong; I really enjoyed both sports, got to be pretty good at both, and actually started for a championship baseball team my junior year of high school. But...there's always a but, I don't think my heart was ever really in the "game," as I believe it is with what I do and enjoy now. I haven't mentioned this anywhere on this blog or in any of my college newspaper columns, but my passion for what I enjoy now has led me to the decision (which I made last spring/summer) to join the Army and apply to Officer Candidate School (because I'm not in ROTC) after I graduate this December. After 9/11 and the war in Iraq, I've slowly discovered that I want to be where the action is, as scary as that sounds. Reading all the Baghdad dispatches from the Times and the Post only gets you so close. I read about the discipline and comraderie amongst our soldiers, and I find myself wanting to be a part of that, even with all the tragedy that war brings - the lost limbs, the parents that bury their kids. Maybe I'm being a naive idealist. Maybe I'm gonna be in for a rude awakening. Or maybe this is my inner-self trying to reclaim that athletic glory I could have had if I only got up at 5:30 a.m. every morning and head to my high school gym to shoot those 5oo jumpers like those guys from Gateway did; or if only I had gone to the batting cage during the winter months after my Saturday morning basketball practices to get ready for the spring baseball season. Ha. Maybe not all that. But the point is that I think I've found one of my callings in life with military service and, honestly, I can't wait to see how it goes.

Anyway, wow. This post got a little off track and probably a little too personal. But it's all good. We all need a little self-examination every now and then, right? And what better place do it than in the pseudo-anonymous setting of a blog, haha!


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