Tony Blair. Is on the cover of the June '04 Atlantic. However, it is not the bright, articulate, self confident, and smiling man that brilliantly took the reigns of British power. It is a picture of a tired, stressed, and saddened man who appears to be looking into the single light of an oncoming train. The lead article is about how the responsibilities of leadership breaks the best of men. (The American Prospect did a similar project using Colin Powell.)
Mark Twain likened governments to logs in a stream. He described government leaders as ants on these logs; each loudly proclaiming an ability to determine the destination.
If Twain is correct, we should stop crying for Tony Blair and other world leaders when their life's work goes south. Controlling the future quality of human life was never in their hands .
This control lies distributed among 6 billion individuals. The behaviors of each to create and provide for his or her family, collected together, determines if the world heads for scarcity, conflict and environment destruction or abundance, peace, and environmental quality.
If each chooses one-child-per-family behaviors, the human footprint will contract and conditions of an overloaded world will improve. If each chooses as few as two, the human footprint will increase and conditions will worsen.
Even if Tony Blair's behaviors, in his position of British power, are a million times more powerful than any single human being's, 6 billion sets of them, collected together, are 6 thousand times more powerful.
We deny these simple calculations at our peril. Only defective cognition could have ever lead us to believe that Blair (or his predecessors Gorbachov, Tutu, Mandela, Clinton, Thatcher, Schroeder etc.) could change the course set by the 6 billion.
Only defective cognition allows each of us to believe that a two child family, universally chosen, leads to a good future for our progeny.