Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Military Space News .

Outside View: America's most tolerated dangers
by Harlan Ullman
Washington (UPI) May 1, 2013

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

If asked, most Americans would agree that economic and financial chaos or a stunning terrorist attack by foreign jihadis possibly with nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction constitute among the gravest threats to the United States.

But the United States faces other more immediate, yet tolerated, dangers that have done and are doing irreparable harm to the nation. Sadly, these dangers don't provoke enough public fury or even attention to motivate corrective action.

These tolerated threats are bad governance, hubris and self-delusion. Bad government is so wide spread that the public accepts Washington's dysfunctionality as the new norm. And hubris and self-delusion have been so assimilated into the national culture and vocabulary as to be an integral part of this new norm as cancer is to healthy human cells.

About bad government, it may well be that a system of checks and balances cannot operate effectively as long as both political parties are driven by ideological extremes that view compromise as capitulation and exercise of reason as disloyalty or political treason.

Sequestration as mandated by the Budget Control Act isn't merely evidence of broken government. It is a symptom of political insanity as it allows no flexibility in taking these relatively small cuts rationally, maximizing the damage -- except when it affects Congress.

Sequestration led to furloughs of air controllers. For several days flight schedules were disrupted and delayed inconveniencing, among others, members of Congress.

Congress wouldn't deal immediately and seriously with issues of real consequence such as the budget or public outrage over school shootings in Newtown, Conn., let alone granting flexibility to national defense and law enforcement to minimize the effects of sequestration.

But Congress quickly acted to free up money to return all air controllers to work thus removing this disruptive impediment to its life -- a symptom of how political madness has exacerbated bad government.

Hubris and self-delusion are more insidious.

Despite the Vietnam War largely lost by hubris and self-delusion, over the intervening years and especially since Sept. 11, 2001, Americans have been led to believe in American exceptionalism, the United States' role as the world's sole remaining superpower and as the globe's indispensible nation.

Along the way, the United States turned the "war on terror" into a missionary crusade directed against an ill-defined jihadist global threat and, in the process, has wrecked U.S. standing, influence and reputation in how we are regarded internationally.

But prior generations of Americans would have rejected these inflated claims of special status and exceptionalism. In a globalized world, the diffusion of all forms of power means that no single state can or will control international geo-economic politics. Nor is the post-Cold War notion of a single superpower relevant given this diffusion of power.

The inability of conventional military might alone to defeat an enemy lacking armies, navies or air forces has further eroded the cachet of sole superpower status. And the war on terror has turned into a nightmare as anti-Americanism abroad reaches new heights diminishing U.S. reputation, influence and standing.

Fueled by foreign perceptions of two wars gone wrong and magnified by the effects of Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and renditions of enemy combatants; drone attacks and targeted assassinations judged illegal and immoral; leading from behind in Libya; and the absence of good options in Syria, Iran and North Korea, U.S. standing as the leader of the Free World is in tatters.

Yet, without better understanding of how these negative perceptions tarnish America's standing and influence, self-correction is virtually impossible. And indifferent or apathetic American responses to anti-Americanism are strong evidence of bad government, hubris and self-delusion.

So when U.S. presidents and its political leaders lecture the world on American exceptionalism and greatness, the predictable outcome is too often to demean and diminish its values, intentions and actions. As burgeoning debt and deficits sap economic growth and reduce expectations about accessibility to the famous American dream along with current standards of living, so too is the image of America as that "shining city on the hill" in serious decline, perhaps precipitously.

That doesn't mean the United States will be consigned to second- or third-class status. It clearly will be the world's largest economy for a very long time to come. And it retains the potential to lead the world to a better place.

But will or can America use that potential for good? Or will America's bad government, catalyzed by hubris and self-delusion prevent its better angels as Lincoln observed from emerging? Since 1789 and the creation of the United States, the Civil War, the Depression and World War II were the greatest tests this nation faced.

The test today is far different. It is largely, if not exclusively focused, at home. Of course, foreign dangers persist. However, unless Americans we can force government to work and learn to restrain our national ego, prospects for these better angels emerging aren't good.

(Harlan Ullman is chairman of the Killowen Group, which advises leaders of government and business, and senior adviser at Washington's Atlantic Council.)

(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)


Related Links
Learn about the Superpowers of the 21st Century at
Learn about nuclear weapons doctrine and defense at

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Chinese tourists sail to disputed islands: report
Beijing (AFP) April 28, 2013
The first Chinese tour ship to visit disputed South China Sea islands set sail on Sunday, state media reported, a move likely to stoke a long-running territorial row between Beijing and its neighbours. Plans to allow tourists to visit the Paracel Islands is the latest stage in China's development of the territory, which has previously angered Vietnam and caused concern in Washington. Vie ... read more

U.S. seeks $220 million for Israel missile defense

Pentagon requests more funding for Israel's 'Iron Dome'

Lockheed Martin PAC-3 Missile Intercepts and Destroys Tactical Ballistic Missile in New Test

Japan's missile defence plan: some facts

Lockheed Martin's Nemesis Missile Scores 3-For-3 in Flight Tests

Guam heightens alert level after N. Korea threats

US warns N. Korea ahead of expected missile launch

Raytheon demonstrates new Joint Standoff Weapon Extended Range integrated fuel system

Outside View: Drones: Say it with figures

ESA-EDA Flight Demonstration On Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Insertion Into Civil Airspace

Israel builds up its war robot industry

Israel downs Lebanon drone off northern coast

DARPA Seeks Clean-Slate Ideas For Mobile Ad Hoc Networks

Astrium's secure milsatcoms now cover the world

Gilat to Equip IDF with SatTrooper-1000 Military Manpack

General Dynamics' WIN-T Increment 2, Soldiers' "On-the-Move" Network, Advances as 10th Mountain Division Trains for Deployment

Northrop Grumman Selected to Complete JCREW I1B1 Development

DARPA Announces Winner of the First FANG Challenge

Elbit To Supply African Nation With Wise Intelligence Technology System

Few women opt for frontline combat roles in Australia

Budget cuts prompt Chile to reassess defense buys

China clamps down on abuses by 'military' drivers

Crisis-hit France to cut armed forces by 10 percent

France picks up 707 million euros for 2.1% stake in EADS

Outside View: America's most tolerated dangers

US backs Georgia bid to join NATO, EU

Philippines accuses China of 'de facto occupation'

China military planes flew close to disputed isles: report

Nanowires grown on graphene have surprising structure

UNL team's discovery yields supertough, strong nanofibers

Scientists image nanoparticles in action

Scientists see nanoparticles form larger structures in real time

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement