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In Victor David Hanson’s recent story for the National Review, he talks about how the political climate in today’s world resembles the early 20th century. At that time following WWI in rather quick succession you saw the fall of once great powerful empires; empires like Austro-Hungary, Kaiser Wilhelm’s Imperial Germany, the Ottoman Empire, and Czarist Russia. Due to inattention by the world’s leading governments they were then replaced by even stronger more ruthless empires such as the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, and Imperial Japan. The rise and fall of such empires and the cost to humanity in terms of suffering, property damage, and loss of life cannot be accurately measured nor can the cost be ignored and treated as if its irrelevant ancient history.
It was only through a monumental wholehearted national effort by Western democracies, at great cost and sacrifice by their military combatants and civilians, working in cooperation to meet the threat, did these oppressive regimes finally meet their end.
It is not by accident that we have not seen another global confrontation like WWI or WWII in seventy years. Its not because humanity has somehow become more civilized, far from it. Its just that global peace is obtained only through commitment to strength and not by appearing weak or being weak.
Hanson asserts that in today’s world we are seeing an equally volatile period in history just like the 1930’s and 1940’s largely due to American indifference and perceived weakness by our enemies. During Obama’s watch we have seen the rise of ISIS/ISIL almost immediately after we began withdrawing from Iraq. We see Iran’s subtle and not so subtle influence over the Middle East growing not to mention their appetite to obtain nuclear weapons and to destroy Israel at the right opportunity. As we withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban still assert power there. What is going to stop them from reclaiming what they lost, the shaky Afghan government? Power abhors a vacuum. We are seeing Putin’s Russia reassert its once death grip hold over all of Eastern Europe with Ukraine being its latest victim.
I believe President Obama believes its his mission to remove the USA from its position of authority and world leadership much to our great detriment and the whole world’s. Our withdrawal from the world stage, retreating if you will, will have very bad consequences for us and those nations that resist oppressive anti-Democratic, anti-American, despotic governments.
History has shown Evil does in fact exist in the world and to turn from it and ignore it, or appease it only encourages it to be more audacious, not less dangerous or less threatening. Appeasement only works for those being appeased. Failing for example to name the source of almost all of the current terrorist activity in the world today ” Islamic fundamentalism” (which is rooted in literal interpretation of the Koran), only encourages those fanatics. I think it would be better a few be offended than billions engaged in a global armed conflict.
A position that says let’s not care about what goes on beyond our borders and focus just on our problems here may seem like a good idea on the surface to some. I understand the arguments for isolation, less intervention and domestic focus as I too once held that position. However I think that only invites a very ugly future global confrontation when we will be much weaker to resist the very real threats to our way of life.
Some might want to convince themselves that the evil in today’s world is caused by USA’s inequities in life and our greedy corporations coupled with our intolerance to other cultures. I would argue show me where these other cultures are better or as tolerant. The truth is the world is a very biased, racist, and intolerant place and its those intolerant cultures and countries that are now posing the greatest threats to mankind.
I believe however that appeasement and disengagement is our President and some of his follower’s intention. Somehow he has convinced himself that downsizing our military and abandoning our allies, while simultaneously: supporting or appeasing Islamic-Fascist regimes; removing sanctions for tired old communist regimes like Cuba; permitting China and North Korea to engage in economic and cyber warfare against us daily; and allowing Russia to do what ever it wants without tangible negative consequences for them is somehow in our best interests.
Looking at the world today I really believe Obama appears feckless by design, he’s not that stupid like some would believe. His actions I believe are a portent of a much greater evil to come but that is another story.
For now the average American being comfortable, complacent and compliant with our government’s control over their lives while solely focused on themselves and their issues is not going to keep any of us safe or free. We must stay concerned and engaged on matters inside and outside of our country. We must elect leaders willing to uphold the law, and oppose those who would seek our destruction from within as well as from outside our borders. Those same leaders must resist evil where ever it is, for however long it takes and rally the citizens behind the cause. We need to be fully committed as a nation, and willing to sacrifice for the long haul, just like those Americans from an earlier generation did for only then can we hope to win and survive.
What I’m saying is an all in commitment is necessary with a resolve to take the fight wherever it leads us, to whatever country’s doorstep it may take us. We must resolve to win this war not just co-exist with it or we can expect to be at war forever.
The time was June 1938. America was still reeling from years of economic calamity brought on by the Great Depression. War was also in the wind. The beginnings of the darkness that would soon spread across multiple continents and cost millions their lives had already fully metastasized in Europe and far off places like Nanking, China. America’s hope of staying out of a second world conflict looked very grim.
Against this back drop two Jewish immigrants living in blue collar Cleveland, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, struggling to make ends meet and dreaming of using their talents someday, stumble upon an idea for a comic book serial. Siegel is later credited with saying that one night while looking up at the stars he imagined a powerful hero that looked out for those in trouble. A savior if you will. From that germ, the idea of Superman was born and in June 1938 was introduced to the American public, a public desperate for heroes and someone or something to look out for them.
To Siegel and Shuster both left leaning immigrants, Superman in early serial comic editions took on the role as social activist fighting against business corruption and dirty politicians. The character would later see greater notoriety not in comic books, but in radio broadcasts. By the 1940’s and 1950’s Superman began personifying the ideal American: quiet, humble, mild mannered, but with strong fortitude and desirable character traits like being truthful and just. It also didn’t hurt that he could fly and was virtually invincible.
Through the decades Superman’s mantra would change little. His beliefs in truth, justice, and tolerance could easily have been said to be the ideal “American Way.” An America where people do what’s morally right, believe in a system of laws that are just and not arbitrary, and are tolerant of all races and cultures.
Maybe that America never really existed, but it is a hopeful vision. Today as they did in Siegel and Shuster’s time, people look to government as the answer to all their problems. Back then it was Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Today President Obama could easily be identified by some as the personification of the superhero in red cape, who promises to stamp out injustice and corruption, intolerance, feeds the poor and provides for the uninsured. Superman was fiction then and is fiction now.
America needs it heroes, but perhaps instead of new heroes dressed in business suits, making speeches, and promising the stars, we just need to look further back in time. Maybe we need to try and reconnect to an older group of heroes than Superman. We need to look to the lives and lessons learned from super men who founded this country more than 200 years ago, or better still one Superman who was hung on a cross more than 2000 years ago and came back from the dead.
Man’s best friend is not the cat. It’s not a bird. It’s not even an iguana. It’s the dog, the faithful, loving, trusting companion of mankind. Ever watchful over its master, the dog has accompanied man everywhere, even into battle. Today’s marks the anniversary when the US Army Quartermaster Corp in 1942 started to train dogs for its War Dog Program or K-9 Corp as it was called. Basic training lasted two to three months and prepared dogs for sentry, patrol, messenger, or mine-detection duty.
One of the most famous of these animal soldiers was “Chips” a mixed German shepherd who single-handedly attacked an enemy machine-gun nest in Sicily and, despite a bullet wound, forced the six-man crew to surrender. Chips was recognized for this brave action with a Silver Star and Purple Heart. Chips captured the heart of Americans and motion pictures later were made about his heroics. More than 10,000 specially trained dogs were deployed during WWII.
Today dogs continue to serve with US military forces around the world. Because of their keen sense of smell, dogs are very useful in detecting minute traces of explosives or narcotics and can alert their handlers to the presence of such substances. In addition dogs can be a strong psychological deterrent, able to inflict fear in adversaries that even other armed soldiers cannot. These amazing creatures have earned love and respect from those who have worked with them and care for them.
Since our founding, and even more so after the turn of the 20th century, America has proven exceptional in many ways compared to the other nations on Earth. She stands in stark contrast to say Russia whose people who do not have a history of freedom and independence. The Russian people it seems have always been ruled by various tribal war lords, czars, brutal dictators, petro billionaire mobsters, or variations of the same theme. With Putin in command they seem to be reverting back to the Cold War days of Stalin. Russians have always known great suffering under oppressive regimes when they were’t too busy inflicting suffering upon others around them. There paranoia is legendary some of which may be justified given their past experiences in WWII but make no mistake Stalin’s regime was every bit as evil and repressive as Hitler’s.
America by contrast has proven resourceful and resilient. Her people by and large are happy and even the most poor among us do not suffer the same hardships like say people from Bangladesh or India suffer. She is blessed with abundance in most everything. She has for the most part been a nation of religious people, at least more so than other nations and as a result her willingness to share from that great abundance is more than most nations. Frequently she displays generosity in times of crisis or need throughout the world. Lastly the promise of freedom and hope that her political institutions and laws has offered provide hope to people from all over the planet who come here (some illegally) seeking asylum and opportunities they cannot find elsewhere. This has been the America I grew up to be proud of and love.
Indeed many of America’s past leaders like John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan invoked the image from the bible parable of a shining city on a hill when describing America. President Ronald Reagan in his January 11, 1989, farewell speech to the nation said ”I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it and see it still..”. This is a strong vision for America and one in which our people need to still recognize. I have hope that we can still be that country.
Like it or not, America was, when the smoke and the bodies were cleared away after WWII, one of only two great superpowers left standing. In the end a confrontation of ideas had to take place as they could not co-exist and we won defeating Soviet communism. We were left with the role of world policeman and a growing appetite for debt.
Since then America has made colossal mistakes, not the least of which was arrogantly and unilaterally invading Iraq without declaration of war or real concrete evidence to justify it. That war I believe did irreparable harm. Our trust in our leaders was once again shaken and America’s role as leader of the free world and a reputation as a country that stands for what is right and just was compromised. The world after Iraq could easily say look at America, they are not much different than any of history’s other imperial empires. With the recent revelations of our spying on our allies made by Edward Snowden we continue to lose more credibility with those we call friends. In a nut shell we have lost the moral high ground and our reputation on the world stage is tarnished.
Economically we are broke and having a closet socialist as a President does not help give confidence to the financial engines that drive our free market economy and stimulate recovery. Do you know any business right now that is hiring in large numbers, or banks investing large amounts of capital on new ideas and inventions? I don’t and I bet you don’t either. They’re few and far between. Obama gets a vote of no confidence from most small businesses in America too despite what you might hear on television.
So this brings me to the latest headlines and the Ukraine. The old America would never let stand Putin’s country grabbing. The old America having signed treaties like the one with the Ukraine and promising to prevent Russia from forcing the Ukraine back into their political hemisphere in exchange for giving up nukes, would fight back against Putin. The America of old would stand by its word. Can you see John Kennedy backing down now or Reagan? How about Obama? Well? The truth is the old America would not even be in this political foreign policy predicament. Russia would have respected the USA’s ability to crush them economically with sanctions and militarily if need be, and so would never dream of invading Ukraine a free and sovereign country with whom we have ties and a treaty.
A clear and present danger today exists in American foreign policy and that is respect. Having lost the moral high ground after Iraq, and financially teetering on disaster after the last few years of Obama in the White House we appear weak. The Russians think so and I bet the Chinese think so and the Islamic fascists in the Middle East think so too.
My libertarian side wants us to stay out of this mess. How can we afford to do anything over there when we can’t take care of business at home. It might seem like George Washington’s advice regarding alliances might be a good idea. However as someone once said power abhors a vacuum. Step down from the world stage like Ron Paul or other libertarians advocate and you can be sure that Russia and China will fill in the void. What about those other countries we promised we would protect? You know our allies. Can you see other former Soviet states who fought for their independence fall back under Moscow’s control? Is Poland next? How about Taiwan?
It has been our country’s policy right or wrong to make the world safe for Democracy since WWII. Other smaller nations expect this and look to us for leadership. We fought hot and cold wars against totalitarian aggression on multiple continents and our old foes Russia and China are the same now as they were then regardless of what new image they like to spin or how many cheap manufactured things they sell to us at Wal-Mart. They are bullies in the world’s school yard always have been and always will be.
Perhaps in a perfect world we never would have taken on the role as leader of the free world or world cop but that is the role that was thrust upon us. We cannot sit idly yet the question becomes what can we do now. I think not very much. No matter how you look at it this, it does not end well for the people of Ukraine or our image. There is still much work to do but I’m afraid there is not enough time, money, allies, or fortitude left.