As a recently retired member of the U.S. Army with 37 years of service, I feel compelled to express a few of my views on the United States' and the world's contemporary environment, especially during this election year.
Today, as a result partially due to globalization, we are bombarded with news and data from a myriad of means. How we perceive, analyze and reach conclusions on what we see and hear depends on whether we are a member of the uninformed, semi-informed or informed public. There are tremendous forces both nationally and internationally that either purposely or non-purposely obfuscate facts and information that we use to form our ideas and opinions on matters both here and abroad. One must be able to think critically in order to make sense of the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment in which we live.
Reflect on values
To think critically about our governmental positions on both domestic and foreign matters, we, as a nation, must reflect on the values that formed our nation. The national values of the United States as reflected in our nation's founding documents provide a sense of national purpose to the citizens and represent the legal, philosophical and moral basis for the nation. These values are not fungible, i.e., there are no values of equal merit that can be interchanged with them. The United States consistently is a country of new beginnings melding the ideologies of persons of varied backgrounds and heritages into the single identity of an American. As a country with an isolationist mentality and distaste for armed conflict, the United States does not hesitate to use all elements of national power, diplomatic, informational, military and economic, to secure national interests in both its internal and external environments.
U.S. interests determine our involvement in the world. They are perceived needs and aspirations in relation to the international environment. National interests give rise to our national security, not only signifying the defense of the population and territories against assault, but also implying protection of vital economic and political interests. The loss of these interests could threaten the fundamental values and viability of the nation.
There are two great threats to the United States today. One is the threat from failed states, rogue states and non-state actors, the latter of which leads to fourth-generation warfare in which there is no nation-state to fight against. Al-Qaida along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border is an example. The other threat is a result of globalization by which an inequality is created among and within states. Globalization takes three forms: Economic, cultural, and political. Byproducts of globalization can be terrorism, violence, conflict and resentment. The first threat often feeds off the second threat.
As we ponder upon the list of presidential candidates, we must think critically about what they each espouse as they chivy each other. Think about the second and third order effects that may be caused by policies they propose to implement if they become president. Look at the candidates, their backgrounds and beliefs. Think about who you want to lead the nation to protect our values.
The choices are:
• Senator from Illinois. Some say lack of experience is his major fault.
• Old warhorse senator from Arizona. Some say lack of knowledge on the economy hurts his chances.
• Senator from New York and her husband. Do you want four more years of them?
• Former Arkansas governor and preacher. Do you want another Arkansan in the White House?
We have the freedom to choose. There is no excuse for not voting.
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