The Biggest Threat to the American Way of Life: Complacency

This blog “It Does Not Add Up” focuses primarily on U.S. fiscal and economic issues such as massive debt and slow economic growth.  But lately I have also been discussing other serious threats to our comfortable and prosperous way of life such as global warming  and challenges from rival powers such as China and Russia.

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The Hoover Institution’s Larry Diamond well describes these growing foreign policy threats in his new book, “Ill Winds.  According to Mr. Diamond it is imperative that we:

  • Stand up to Putin. “Putin is like a burglar walking down a corridor of apartments, testing to see which doors are unlocked.  When he gets the chance he breaks in; when he cannot, he moves on.”  We need to continue pressuring regime elites where it hurts: their assets and their ability to enjoy them.  Targeted sanctions are effective because they punish corrupt and abusive individuals, not the Russian people at large.
  • Stand up to Xi. The most important thing to do here is to continue to insist that China stop stealing our intellectual property and that it provide fair access to Chinese markets for American products. We need to keep the trade pressure (i.e. tariffs) on China as long as necessary while reducing it on our longtime allies around the world as well as well as neutral countries with whom we do business.
  • Continue to support freedom and democracy around the world.  Remember that no two democracies have ever gone to war with each other.  We need to support not only established democracies but struggling and developing democracies as well.  We should try to pressure authoritarian regimes to stop abusing the rights and stealing the resources of their citizens.  We should continually update and reboot our public diplomacy – our global networks of information and ideas – for today’s fast-paced age of information and disinformation.

Summary.  We are still the leading superpower in the world, both economically and militarily, but we cannot afford to rest on our laurels.  Our continued success is not automatically assured.  We must never forget that “freedom is not free.”

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2 thoughts on “The Biggest Threat to the American Way of Life: Complacency

  1. I agree that complacency is a large part of the equation when it comes to the average American understanding the global geopolitics (can we use that term in the 21st Century) and economical challenges faced by the American state. However, and as has been alluded to previously in Jack’s blog, the average American will not be able to understand the complexity of these challenges without having a solid educational background steeped in a curricula that includes geography, government and American History. Todays millennials are probably the first American generation to which the importance of these basic educational courses have been woefully abandoned either by the ignorance of public school boards or removed by local political design.

  2. Yes, millennials for sure, but I think the problem is broader than this. Too many Americans in general don’t appreciate how important U.S. economic and military strength has been to preserving relative peace and stability around the world. The more powerful autocratic regimes like those in China and Russia become, the greater is the danger that the world could degenerate into chaotic nationalism.

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