Nearly a year ago on AND Magazine I wrote a column recounting seven major failures of American life
. Here are 10 more of what I consider the most disastrous and specific of American failings. Some of them are not recognized as failures, but for some perverted reason have widespread support from the American people, leading me to contend, "You can't fool all the people all the time, but many Americans are a bunch of fools."
1. FAILURE to intelligently prioritize enemies. We spend 12 years fighting ragged insurgents in Afghanistan who have no nuclear weapons and let the North Koreans threaten us and build both nuclear technology and the missile system to deliver it, and they (North Korea) openly make bellicose announcements that it's for delivery on the Continental United States. Woe be to a country that can't identify its most dangerous threats. I can only come up with two possibilities, either we're stupid, or yellow, too chicken to oppose a small country that can hit back.
2. FAILURE to learn the lesson of Vietnam, that is, the limits of what military power can hope to accomplish. It is not surprising that most of the architects of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had no personal experience in Vietnam. We occupy ground in these conflicts in the old-fashioned occupational style of World War II. None of our so-called alleged leaders know how to be new, creative, or think out of the box when dealing with a highly mobile insurgency equipped with cell phones. We make the same mistakes that Dwight Eisenhower warned about, an open-ended land war in which no thought is given to winning the hearts and minds of people, but occupying territory and then hoping year after year that somehow it will all work out. This ossified style of thinking will cause no end of future disasters.
3. FAILURE to enact an assault weapons ban in the United States. The government is still debating this, but I don't have any faith they'll do the right thing. The right to own firearms should be preserved as a right, but not the right to have any weapon. The Founding Fathers never envisioned a weapon that can spray a schoolyard with 600 rounds in two minutes and if you want the right to own such a weapon, what for? To protect your house? Banning assault weapons shouldn't be based on whether a ban would decrease crime. Even if it doesn't, it's the right thing to do and the moral thing (I don't mean religious morality) to do. Unless you're a fanatic, you should be willing to sacrifice just a little in the name of humanity.
4. FAILURE often to support the United Nations, an organization we created. The UN sponsored and adopted a "Woman's Rights Initiative" in 1979 calling for the elimination of discrimination and violence against women, and was later ratified by 187 countries except the United States. Why? Why is it so hard for the U.S. to do the simple right thing unless it involves the use of military force? It's too much trouble. It's too inconvenient. It involves a little work without a big payback or exploitation? A sizeable portion of the American population considers the UN a subversive organization bent on taking over the U.S. It's always hard when to you have to put up with foreigners and their right to disagree, but have you got anything else besides lording it over the rest of the world? What's your alternative? You don't have one. We don't use the UN enough to pursue worldwide worthy and peaceful goals, or at least try.
5. FAILURE to take the lead on global warming. This is perhaps the most serious problem of all, because the Midwest is turning into the Sahara Desert. I don't want to hear any more stupid debate about whether global warming is man-caused or natural. That's just an excuse not to do anything. It's probably both natural and man-made. If you're a moron and don't believe in it because you don't want to, go to a village in Switzerland and see where just 30 years ago there was a 400-foot-thick glacier, and now there's steamy grass. The world will come undone and more people will crowd into the few habitable places on the planet. Methane under the Polar Ice Caps will escape releasing a Pandora's Box of troubles. You'll see, and if by some chance you don't, your grandkids will.
6. FAILURE to keep religion out of politics. Most of the Founding Father believed in God and a nation "Under God," but they were just as determined to separate religious belief from political decision making. Read the statements of Thomas Jefferson and the rest. Lincoln expressed the idea that while he was not opposed to any religion, he did not base judgments on it as a matter of public policy-----understand the word---public---that includes all of us, even nonbelievers. Today's politicians, especially those on the right, openly allude to their faith-based decision making. This is nothing but trouble and a break from the historic past, which many of today's political hacks barely understand.
7. FAILURE to prevent job outsourcing of American jobs overseas because using slaves without paying insurance is cheaper and easier. It's hopeless to ask the heads of corporations to practice some loyalty and generosity to their own country. Those are foreign concepts to them.
8. FAILURE to ask the Corporate Conglomerate Empire to practice some humanity instead of just greed (related to #7).
9. FAILURE to atone for the Bush and Cheney crimes. A country that can't admit wrong won't, and is doomed to make the same mistakes again and again (related to #2). The unpatriotic obscene Patriot Act is still on the books, removing the rule of law and allowing the government to throw in jail anyone based on mere suspicion without trial, and the invasion and destruction of Iraq and millions of its people over false weapons of mass destruction is history. When the Germans did it, at the Nuremberg Trial we called it "Crimes against Humanity." When we do it, we call it "Operation Iraqi Freedom."
10. FAILURE to recognize all the above, and openly supporting all the above.