Vail Valley Voices: It’s time for America to change
Vail, CO Colorado
What are the three most important issues facing America today? I’d say they are the role of the United States internationally, the sorry state of our economy and the confrontational attitude of so many Americans.
What should America’s role be? Is the U.S. responsible for the behavior of other countries? When one nation attacks another, should the U.S. be there to fight and/or negotiate for peace? When a human rights violation occurs, is it our role to interfere? Should the U.S. try to build democracies around the globe using its military might and resources?
I don’t believe our leaders in Washington have the slightest idea how to answer these questions, so their responses to crises are often disjointed, inconsistent and seemingly arrogant. For years, the U.S. has tried to lead the world. We were victorious in World War II, not just because our generals were great leaders, but also Hitler’s ambitions caused him to make grave strategic errors that the U.S. and Russia exploited. And, in the Pacific, we dropped atomic bombs on Japan, which immediately ended the conflict.
Armed with our somewhat overrated success in the “big shoot,” succeeding presidents have involved us in several conflicts that resulted in thousands of casualties (both American and many more in the countries we invaded) and an amazing loss of treasure. The latter phenomenon has finally caught up with us. Outrageous expenditures for undeclared wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan have made it impossible for this country to provide necessary social services to its citizens.
Every U.S. president is obsessed with building democracies, regardless of whether other nations want this form of government or not. I remember every president from Kennedy to George W. Bush playing the democracy card trying to justify the use of military force. And now, Obama, despite promises to the contrary, is about to go double or nothing in his futile mission to make Afghanistan a democratic ally. Maybe, just maybe, some nations would be better off if they had other forms of government.
Related to the foreign policy imbroglio is the state of our economy. Why are we in such dire straits? There are many reasons for today’s problems. They include the expenditures being made on unjustified military activity described above; an inability of our leaders and legislators to create regulatory policies that protect us but do not stifle innovation and capitalism; waste and fraud in every aspect of our lives including health care, welfare, big government and much more; the litigious environment created by opportunistic trial attorneys and ambulance chasers; and partisanship that makes it impossible for our government to address problems we face in education, health care, energy and the like. Moreover, partisanship has been a propellant for class warfare
Perhaps the most frustrating issue of all is that Americans are no longer able to get along with each other or anyone else in the world for that matter. Arrogance, self-importance and a know-it-all attitude are causing huge problems. Special interest groups have only fanned the flames of discontent and aggression.
Domestically, we Americans must recognize that we are on the same team. Everyone should be working to make the U.S. more successful. Even if you aren’t in favor of the sitting president, try to be constructive and avoid being hostile. If the U.S. is going to be great again, we must accept that we can’t get our way all the time. Compromise is critical to our achieving our greatness.
Internationally, Americans are despised. Until we show that we can be good partners, no nation will listen to us. The global community no longer believes that U.S. perspective is required to make important decisions. When we recognize this fact, things will improve.
Sal Bommarito is a novelist and frequent visitor to Vail during the past 20 years.
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