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Nations Being Devastated By War: Afghanistan, Pakistan and - America

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Message Michael Payne

It's been a living hell for innocent civilians in those nations under attack and occupation by U.S. and NATO forces. At the same time it is becoming apparent that the more destruction our government brings down on foreign nations, the more damage it causes to our own nation. Let's call this kind of damage "blowback," generally defined as "the unforeseen negative consequences of an action or decision."

A good example of blowback would be the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, said to have been retaliation for the prolonged presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia. But the blowback to which I refer is quite different in that it is one in which America's military actions against other nations are resulting in great damage to its economy, institutions and its people. 

What this means is that all the time and effort, all the resources, and all the costs that the U.S. expends to conduct wars in the Middle East and Central Asia are unavailable for the domestic needs of this nation; the more war the less funds that are available to address a myriad of critical domestic problems; the more war, the less stability in America. 

Think about the many teachers who have lost their jobs because of a lack of funds; funds that could have saved their jobs but have, instead, been allocated for war. How many after-school programs and how many services to the poor or the mentally disabled will be eliminated because that money is reserved for war? 

We are bringing domestic devastation on ourselves as we are allow our once excellent education system to deteriorate; future generations of school children will pay a terrible price because America has put a much higher priority on war than education. There are now about 25 industrialized nations in the world that have higher academic rankings in math and science. Is this what a nation that likes to refer to its "exceptionalism" does? 

President Obama and politicians in Congress continually talk about creating new jobs but have done little to nothing to make it happen. If not for these wars and the hundreds of billions of dollars spend on weaponry, we could fund innovative programs to create jobs. The American worker, particularly in the manufacturing sector, can now be classified as an endangered species, in danger of extinction, for America no longer has the will to compete with the nations of the world.

The government needs to discontinue the sham of claiming that the nation's unemployment rate is slightly under 9%; that is pure fantasy since the effective rate, which includes those who have given up on looking for work and those who are working limited hours, is nearer to 18%. That means that there are about 25 million Americans who need and want good jobs but cannot find them. 

In its current condition, America can be likened to a family in which the parents are leading dysfunctional lives. Both are heavy gamblers and are into drugs, so a large portion of their income is totally wasted. They have two children, both of which are excellent students, and want to attend college. But that's not possible because the parents say they just don't have the money. They have no savings and their credit cards are maxed out. The house is in disrepair; a leaking roof, a failing furnace, a badly cracked foundation, and mounting electrical problems. But these problems cannot be addressed because all the money is being squandered on the parents' addictions. 

America quite likely has seen its best days; history will record that it had the potential to be the greatest nation in history but that it let that great opportunity pass it by. Just think of what America might have been and the greatness it could have achieved if it had used its wealth and human resources to lead the world in constructive endeavors that generate value rather than the destructive actions of war. 

When is this blowback going to end, or will it ever end? The best way to stop the devastation in Afghanistan, Pakistan and, yes, in America, is to bring the troops home from Iraq based on the existing SOFA, the Status of Forces Agreement between the U.S. and Iraq that calls for them to be fully out of Iraq by December 31, 2011. Note: the Pentagon is working hard to convince the Iraqis to extend that date indefinitely. Second, that military actions in Afghanistan and Pakistan be wound down with troops beginning to exit the countries on July 31, 2011, as Mr. Obama has previously promised, and then continuing on an expedited schedule until all are gone. 

Right now, I don't think we can trust that President Obama, the Congress and the Pentagon will abide by these dates because of the intense pressures of all the many powerful defense industry corporations, their army of lobbyists and their Wall Street financial backers; all of whom profit immensely from the proliferation of wars. We can only hope that, at some point, President Obama finally wakes up to the fact that the cost of the wars can no longer be sustained without even greater damage to the foundations of America. But my gut feeling is that he simply does not possess the kind of strength and courage that it would take to challenge the monumental U.S. war machine. 

So, realistically, there may be only one remaining way that the devastation being heaped upon this nation can be brought to an end. And that is by the power and will of the American people. The people of America represent the most powerful force in our nation, more so than the military, if only that power can be mobilized. The problem is that this power currently remains in a dormant state; it has been neutralized because it consists of over 300 million individuals rather than a well-organized, very motivated movement. 

This power continues to remain untapped because the American people haven't reached the tipping point that will ignite their anger and outrage. Yes, there is a great deal of anger out there, a lot of suffering and anguish among the 25 million unemployed and underemployed, those below the poverty line, those on food stamps and those who, for various reasons, are just trying to find some way to live reasonably normal lives. 

But there is a limit to how much pain the American people can, or will, tolerate. Their incomes, if they are lucky enough to have a job, are stagnating, the price of food is escalating, gasoline is now over $4.00 gallon, pensions are disappearing, many have lost their homes to foreclosure, and they are hearing that Congress, with the GOP pushing it, may radically change or even eliminate Medicare and Social Security programs as we know them. 

What's going on cannot continue, it must not be allowed to rip our nation apart. It won't be long until the American people will finally reach that point where they will have had more than they can possibly endure. What will happen when we arrive at that tipping point? In one scenario there might be a mass mobilization of the majority of Americans to rise up in giant protests across the country to demand an end to the wars or: things could easily get out of control and involve massive, violent protests. Hopefully, it won't be the latter scenario.

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