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Vulnerable Nation

July 22, 2016

Until the nuclear era, the United States has been protected from direct foreign aggression by the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Unfortunately, we need more than oceans to protect us now and our ignorance of foreign languages and cultures handicaps us from gaining insights into other nations.  For that reason the human intelligence (HUMINT) capabilities of the U.S. are very limited and we are compelled to rely on our Allies to “cover” that weakness, even as they look to America for military protection.

What can we do to overcome this historic weakness?

If we review the lives of  Vice Presidents who have served since Harry Truman, only Richard Nixon and George H. W. Bush had any knowledge of foreign policy. The Presidents they served, FDR, JFK, LBJ, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Barack Obama entered office with very little foreign policy experience. That reality has made the United States a vulnerable nation.

Due to ignorance of foreign policy, every recent American President has made some mistakes that jeopardized American national interests. Lyndon Johnson entangled us in a ground war in Asia. Jimmy Carter made a concern for human rights a priority over balance of power. The capture of American diplomats in Iran and President Carter’s decision to let that problem fester brought down his government. The former Governor of Arkansas, William Clinton, misjudged North Korea and now we face a rogue regime that has gone nuclear. Clinton also involved the U.S. in an unnecessary war in Bosnia. George W. Bush was motivated by a religion of democracy that resulted in the invasion of Iraq. That one act–equivalent to Woodrow Wilson’s rejection of balance of power in Europe –destroyed the balance of power in the Middle East and created conditions that favored the rise of Islamic terrorism. And Barack Obama’s sympathy for Muslim nations assured that the government of Iran would dominate south Asia.

Many ethnic groups in the United States have some experience in what our grandfathers called “the old country,” but after three generations that knowledge is gone. Cuban-Americans–now three generations removed from Castro’s Cuban revolution–did not protest the Obama Administration’s decision to grant diplomatic recognition to Castro’s communist state.

Ukrainian-Americans dimly remember the Soviet policies that led to a famine in Ukraine from 1932-33 that killed more than five million people.

The Armenian “genocide” that led to the murder of more than one million Christian-Armenians in Turkey is remembered in name only and still denied by the Turkish government.

Americans descended from emigrants from Russia, Ukraine, Cuba, Armenia, Poland and the Peoples Republic of China do not carry direct knowledge of how terrible events in the old country were nor how dangerous the world has become.  Many do not care.

That is why two candidates for President of the United States today–Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump–are going to face a more dangerous world than was known by their predecessors.

Is there anything that can be done to lessen the possibility that they will make mistakes in foreign policy that keep our vulnerable nation at peace?





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