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Jun 15
2017

“Solving USA and the World’s Major Problems For A Better Future.”

Posted by Franklin Parker

Franklin Parker

Book Review, June 19, 2017, Franklin and Betty Parker.  Title: “Solving USA and the World’s Major Problems For A Better Future,” 10-11 AM, Adshead Hall, Uplands Village, Pleasant Hill, TN 38578.  E-mail: bfparker@frontiernet.net

 

Betty: Our book review, “Solving USA’s and the World’s Major Problems For A Better Future” was started before and revised during and after the contentious Nov. 8, 2016 election. 

 

Frank: We searched the internet, libraries, and elsewhere for best sources on such USA/World problems as: 1-stopping ongoing wars; 2-creating a more peaceful, cooperative world; 3-upliftlng needy people everywhere; and 4-finding ways toward a better future.

 

Betty: Frank, what concerns caused us to pursue this difficult topic on 1-what’s wrong with the USA and the world? and 2-How to correct those wrongs for a better future?  

 

Frank:  I am 96, Betty is 88.  Our old age concerns and questions are: 1: why the USA, since World War 2, has been involved in ongoing, costly, deadly wars?  2: What did we do wrong to bring on our big troubles?   3: How can we correct past wrongs, mistakes, and move toward a better future?

 

Betty: Frank, any other really big problems to explore?

 

Frank: The deadly problem of violent Jihadist attacks.   Jihad in Arabic means “struggle,” struggle to defend the Muslim faith against unbelievers. Some Muslims, long defensive about their faith, have in recent troubled times become violently anti-Western.  We need to understand why Islamic jihadists are determined to destroy us and our Allies, and how to soften their angers. 

 

Betty: Reasons for Middle East angers against us include 1: We needed Middle East oil and got it by hook or crook.  2:  In so doing we Westerners generally ignored their history, cultures, faiths, and traditions.  

 

Frank: 3: Muslims, whose main enemy is Israel, long resented, now hate, our USA backing of Israel since its 1948 founding.   4. Arabs, proud of their once great Arabic culture, feel threatened and besieged by the modern world.  Muslims see us Americans as the worst of the modern world.  Militant Islamists magnify our faults.  They imagine that everything we do is against them.  

 

Betty:  Some young anti-West jihadists actually believe that either the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or Israel's secret agency Mossad on 9-11-2001 deliberately destroyed New York City’s World Trade Center in order to justify USA attacks on Muslims.  Frank, these hard Islamist-USA differences nearly exploded on April 4, 2017, when Syria’s Pres. Bashar Hafez al-Assad (his name means “lion” in Arabic) used deadly poison gas on his own Syrian opponents.

 

Frank:  Pres. Trump’s immediate response to this poison gas atrocity was to order 59 Tomahawk Missiles fired on Syria’s main military airport.  His action won immediate U.S. praise--but wait--here’s what happened:  those U.S. missiles struck close to stored Russian planes, prompting Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to denounce our missile strike as a provocative act.

 

Betty:  Recently North Korea has tested missiles to show the world that they will soon be able to pulverize us.

 

Frank:  Such dangerous incidents can spin out of control; can lead to WW 3, to mutual nuclear bomb exchanges, to annihilation.  Another big problem: Why does the USA use pilotless drones to kill targeted enemies?

 

Betty: Why do we use bombs and drone strikes knowing they also cause innocent civilian deaths and injuries?  Our drone strikes increase their anger and make their blowback attacks on us fiercer, more vicious.

 

Frank:  “Blowback” is a term first used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to explain retaliation in its deeper, hidden, more sinister meaning, as follows:  the USA military has reason to suspect, then verifies, then bombs a jihadist site, expecting jihadists’ retaliation, so that USA military can hit them again with a superior force.  This causes jihadists to use stronger retaliation, followed by even bigger USA bombing.  That’s the heart, the awesomeness, and the evil of our ongoing wars:  jihadists hit us, we hit back harder, knowing they will retaliate more fiercely. Blow by bigger blow escalates without end.

 

Betty:  Also disturbing about our blowback strikes is their secrecy. The American public is not informed when the US uses drone strikes.

 

Frank: Journalists imbedded with our military have rightly described blowback strikes as perpetuating ongoing endless wars.  What is behind our never-ending wars is profit and power. Endless wars push Congress to give the military more and more money, more and more  power, which profits munitions makers, which enriches our 1% top rich because they own stock in defense industries.   

 

Betty:  Many Americans are not aware that our ongoing wars cost trillions of dollars, lead to many deaths and injuries and create homeless refugees. Those trillions of dollars could, should, be spent to uplift needy people everywhere, eliminate diseases, repair faulty infrastructures, plus other similar needs.

 

Frank:  Better to use those trillions of dollars to help modernize poverty-stricken nations, improve and universalize education at all levels, create self-help programs everywhere, encourage peaceful negotiation, solve international disputes--tasks needed to assure our better future. Instead we use trillions of dollars to kill, kill; to dominate.

 

Betty: We share below author John W. Whitehead’s criticism of our tremendous military overspending.  He is a constitutional lawyer and human rights attorney. 

 

Frank:  Whitehead’s book is titled Battlefield America; The War on the American People, 2017.  Interestingly, Whitehead’s main points were published in our newspaper, Crossville Chronicle (April 14, 2017, p. 4), titled: “Beware the Dogs of War.”  See: https://www.google.com/#q=Battlefield+America;+The+War+on+the+American+People+Place

 

Betty: Whitehead wrote #1: Our gigantic military spending is ruining the USA. Our endless wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, instead of making the world and us safer are digging the USA deeper into trillions of dollars of debt. 

 

Frank:  Whitehead wrote #2:  Our government has spent 4.8 trillion dollars on wars abroad since September 11, 2001, when jihadists hijacked USA planes, crashed them into New York City’s World Trade Center, into Washington, D.C.’s Pentagon Building, and crashed another in Pennsylvania as passengers fought off hijackers.

 

Betty: Whitehead, #3: Although the USA has only 5% of the world’s population, our military spending is almost half the world’s total military expenditure.  We spend more on our military than do the 19 next biggest military spending nations combined. 

 

Frank:  Whitehead, #4: The Pentagon spends more on ongoing wars than all of our 50 states combined spend on health, education, welfare, and safety.  Our country is now (2017) 19 trillion dollars in debt.     

 

Betty: Whitehead, #5: Everybody’s taxes pay for USA’s rising military costs.  The 1% top rich get richer from ongoing wars because they own the most shares in the armaments industry. 

 

Frank: Whitehead, #6: Interestingly, USA taxpayer statistics for 2013 reveal that some 243 million USA adults paid some type of federal taxes.  About 122 million Americans paid federal income taxes.  All American workers have payroll taxes.  Result: low to moderate USA earners pay a larger percentage of their income in taxes than do high earning Americans. See: https://www.reference.com/government-politics/many-u-s-taxpayers-d77a9265390f4bdb#

 

Betty:  Whitehead, #7: asked: who is stealing the USA blind and pushing us to bankruptcy?  Not the sick, elderly, or poor—but the military-industrial complex--the illicit merger of the armaments industry and the Pentagon as President Dwight Eisenhower 56 years ago warned in his 1961 farewell address.

 

Frank:  Whitehead, #8: added this strong statement: The military-industrial complex, by influencing and controlling Congress plus controlling other sources of USA power, is perhaps the greatest threat to our country’s future.

 

Betty: Whitehead, #9, asked:  what and who are behind USA’s expanding military empire?  His answer:  corrupt politicians, incompetent government officials, co-opted by greedy defense contractors.  By approving and fostering America’s expanding military empire, they are bleeding the USA dry at a rate of more than 15 billion dollars a month or 20 million dollars an hour.

 

Frank: Whitehead, #10:  That USA expenditure of over 15 billion dollars a month; 20 million dollars an hour is spent on foreign wars alone.  That sum for foreign wars alone does not include the added cost of staffing and maintaining our 1000-plus U.S.A. military bases worldwide.

 

Betty: Another author, Jane Mayer, M A Y E R, confirms Whitehead’s assertions about USA enormous military spending.   Her book is titled: Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, NY: Doubleday, 2016. 

 

Frank: Jane Mayer wrote, #1: reinforcing Whitehead, that USA military trillions of dollars are paid mainly by the non-rich 99% taxpayers, not by the 1% rich taxpayers.

 

Betty: Jane Mayer wrote, #2: Most Americans don’t know, don’t realize, the above two facts: that lower income Americans pay for our ongoing wars, which benefit the super rich and do not know that our ongoing wars against Muslim nations create the radical jihadists who are determined to destroy us. 

 

Frank: We would rebel, rebel--if all Americans knew the above two facts, if we all knew the high costs of ongoing wars, if we all knew the horrors of military and civilian lives lost and crippled, if we knew the hurt and sadness suffered by involved families-we would rebel. 

 

Betty:  We would rebel by voting out misguided politicians, voting in reform minded honor-bound, enlightened government officials. 

 

Frank:  We would rebel by electing officials who care for all their constituents, especially their needy ones, and care for all people everywhere.

Betty: We need to elect leaders dedicated to honest uplift and advancement of all their constituents, poor, rich, regardless of color or national background.

 

Frank:   Now for one favorite author Chalmers Johnson who died in 2010, one of the early respected critics of USA’s military excesses, a scholar and professor at the University of California’s Berkeley and San Diego campuses.  He first exposed the USA military blowback scheme that propels our ongoing wars.

 

Betty:  Chalmers Johnson, #1: Johnson, an early Cold War anti-USSR scholar-writer and for a time a CIA advisor, soon saw and wrote convincingly that our ongoing wars as Policeman of the World were changing the USA from a Democracy into an Oligarchy ruled by the richest few.

 

Frank: Chalmers Johnson, #2:  His best known 3-volume Blowback series covers the USA’s World War 2 defeat of Hitler and Hitlerism, covers aggressive USSR expansionism which determined the USA to become the World’s Policeman. 

 

Betty: Chalmers Johnson, #3:  He continued:  With the 1991 collapse of the USSR, the USA, instead of disarming, strengthened itself as Super World Policeman.  In doing so we began losing our highly regarded Democracy. We became more and more an Oligarchy.   https://www.thenation.com/authors/chalmers-johnson

 

Frank: Chalmers Johnson, #4:  Titles of his 3 Blowback series are:  1- title: Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, published 2000.   2-title: Sorrows of Empire published 2004.  3-title: Nemesis: The Last Days of American Empire, published 2006.  His last book of essays was titled: Dismantling The Empire: America’s Last Best Hope, published 2010, the year he died.

 

Betty: Chalmers Johnson, #5:  His Blowback series documented that the CIA plus a dozen or more other US intelligence agencies operate in secret without accounting for monies spent. Chalmers Johnson first told about the Defense Department’s growing number of military bases worldwide--737 in his time, grown to over 1,000 by 2017.

 

Frank: Chalmers Johnson, #6: He was one of the first scholars to say that our enforcement of American dominance over the world constitutes a new form of USA global empire. 

 

Betty:  Chalmers Johnson, #7: Past empires, he wrote, controlled subject peoples as colonies. But since World War II our many military bases around the world have made the USA a new World Empire, an empire evoking resistance, antagonism, and Islamist terror attacks wherever they think they can hurt us most.    Chalmers Johnson’s Blowback series warned that being an Empire causes rebellion, strife, and war with those we would rule.  He urged again and again for dismantling our empire.

 

Frank: Chalmers Johnson, #8: wrote descriptively of military prisons using such cruel practices as brutal waterboarding torture of prisoners and worse. These atrocities done secretly in Iraq and at our Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison have since been made public.

 

Betty: Chalmers Johnson, #9:  Outwardly, military men and women on bases abroad, single or married, have assigned rigid military duties, yet many live in luxury, in opulence: low rent or no rent, cheap goods in Post Exchanges, many recreation outlets. 

 

Frank:  Sins hidden from us on our 1,000+military bases worldwide include: swaggering drunken soldiers who brawl, injure, kill native people, rape women; sins which, even if reported, are covered up.

 

Betty:  Our military bases abroad are imperial enclaves, a form of colonization, barely tolerated by the host country for financial and political reasons, deeply resented by the country’s citizens, utterly detested by resentful jihadists. That’s what ongoing wars do. They are brutal and brutalizing.  

 

Frank:  Another special best author, Betty’s favorite, is Rosa Brooks.  Her book is on the US military, the Pentagon, and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  It is titled: How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything, 2016, listed among the best 100 books published that year.

 

Betty: Brooks grew up in a liberal activist family. Her mother, Barbara Ehrenreich, is a well-known journalist (NY Times; New Yorker) and an award-winning author of 21 books (Nickel and Dimed).

 

Frank: Rosa Brooks became a lawyer, a legal scholar, and a human rights activist.

 

Betty:  She then worked for 26 months (2009-2012) in the Pentagon as chief legal research advisor to the highest-ranking woman officer in the Pentagon, with top security clearance. Rosa Brooks married a highly placed Pentagon officer.   

 

Frank: She is currently a professor of constitutional and international law and also Associate Dean at Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C., and a prominent writer for major journals.

 

Betty:  She is keenly insightful about USA military strengths and weaknesses.

 

Frank: Brooks, #1 wrote: “Today, America’s wars are everywhere and forever.   Our enemies change constantly and rarely wear uniforms, and virtually anything can become a weapon…“

 

Betty: Brooks, #2:  She shows how U.S. defense policies evolved during the long USA-USSR Cold War, 1945-91, 45 years. Then in 1991 the USSR fell apart, the Cold War ended, and the world dramatically changed. 

 

Frank: Brooks, #3: Since 1991, our enemies are not nation states but are Mid-East Muslim jihadists who hate the West.

 

Betty:  Wars are no longer declared.  Enemies rely on shock and terrorism.

 

Frank:  Meanwhile, we still support the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), our western nations organization to counter Russian aggression, and other defense agreements created for a Cold War with the USSR that no longer exists.

 

Betty: Brooks, #4: Her urgent warning is that constant wars destroy America’s founding values, laws, and institutions.  On-going wars undermine the international rules and organizations that keep our world from sliding into chaos.

 

Frank: The world around us, she continued, is quietly changing beyond recognition—and time is running out to make things right.  While military costs continue to rise higher and higher, USA domestic needs continue to have lower and lower priority.

 

Betty:  Those higher and higher military costs are for endless wars with mostly Mid-Eastern Muslim and with north African countries whose jihadists hate our USA military presence and exploitation.  

 

Frank: Brooks, #5: She re-emphasizes that it is suicidal for us to forget President Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell address warning against what is now the commanding threat:--the military-industrial complex.

 

Betty: Brooks, #6: reminds us that President John F. Kennedy, three months after his inauguration, on the CIA’s urging, naively approved the disastrously failed CIA-directed attempt to overthrow  Cuba’s Pres. Fidel Castro. 

 

Frank:  Though the CIA invasion was planned under Pres. Eisenhower, JFK accepted full responsibility for this failure.

 

Betty:  But JFK never again trusted the CIA and signed an executive order prohibiting the CIA from more such secret operations.

 

Frank: Brooks, #7: stated that conspiracy theories about JFK’s assassination blame his assassination on an embittered CIA that hated JFK for threatening to “Smash the CIA to smithereens” (his words).  

 

Betty: Yet after Kennedy’s death and throughout the Cold War years, CIA’s secrecy, spending, and power grew, mushroomed.

 

Frank:   The CIA has spent vast sums in Southeast Asia, in Iran, in Afghanistan, and in Central and South America. The CIA is much like a secret army with a secret budget. 

 

Betty: Brooks, #8: asked, “Where is the hope in this dangerous world?” What is the answer?  

 

Frank:  Brooks, being a specialist in international law, believes the U.S. still has time to help create an international system of checks and balance that can save us. We need, she wrote, to develop cautions and processes that make life in this dangerous world safer, better.  (Rosa Brooks, p. 355)

 

Betty: Brooks, #9: “We will need to do this on…the individual, state, and international levels…and balance the right of each individual to life, liberty, and fair process…” “With regard to the nation, we need categories, rules, and institutions that enable meaningful democratic control of government decisions that affect [our] liberty and lives.” FTNTP. Brooks, p. 356.

 

Frank: Brooks, #10: then remarkably urged that we remake our war Army into a peace Army, a new kind of John F. Kennedy Peace Corps.   Brooks asked: “…why not use this as an opportunity to engage everyone—to include millions more Americans in the project of making the nation stronger, and the world a little less cruel?”

 

Betty: Brooks, #11: continued: “Imagine a revamped public sector premised on the idea of universal service—an America in which every young man and woman spends a year or two engaged in work that fosters national and global security…some might work on international development or public health projects.” “A universal service program would also be a massive investment in a safer, stronger future” (Brooks, page 360).

 

Frank: Brooks concluded, #12: on the hopeful note that though the USA and the World are in dangerously troubled times, we should, like our founding fathers, never abandon hope.

 

Betty: Brooks’ superior coverage of USA military problems is a good place to give my closing thoughts.  ¶Martin Luther King, Jr., having battled for African American rights, the night before his death said: “I have been to the mountaintop and seen the Promised Land.” We do not live on a mountaintop. We live on the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee. We here have not seen the Promised Land.  Instead, we see inadequate health care and many other needs, knowing that around the world the lavishly expensive American military presence produces hatred, not peace, and that the costs of wars are taking money that could provide our neighbors with adequate health care, provide other needs, and assure a better future.  Rosa Brooks in concluding her book says: “We don’t have to accept a world in which the globe is a battlefield… We should be asking…What kind of world do we want to live in—and how do we get from here to there?”   

 

Betty:  Now for Frank’s conclusion.

 

Frank: This USA/World problems and solutions topic has been for us a challenge and an eye opener.  Our USA/World problems are many and complex; the solution few and difficult. We appreciate our audience’s patience. Your comments and reactions after my conclusion will be welcomed. I have asked Betty to alternate with me.

 

Betty for Frank: Having explored major USA/World problems, their origins and scope, Frank briefly sketches our USA’s growth from small beginnings to our high boom time rise, to our recent troubled discontents about 1- jobs lost to cheaper labor abroad, 2- ongoing wars, 3-our role as the hated world policeman, 4-many U.S. military bases and military spending, 5. our drift  from Democracy to Oligarchy.

 

Frank: Despite its troubles our USA is wonderful, but no utopia.  We’ve tried utopias--near perfect, cooperative societies; some religious, some secular:  Shakers, Mennonites (some around Crossville, TN), New Harmony, Ind.; Brook Farm in Mass.; Rugby in TN; Oneida in New York State known for its silverware; Mormons in Utah.  But these utopias did not last, never became mainstream.

 

Betty: Our USA has lasted and we hope will last for better or worse, despite many challenges.  Frank, describe your view of our past, present, and likely future of the USA and the World.

 

Frank:  Look back  to Philadelphia, Penn., around 1776--a handful of smart/bold rebels from 13 colonies declared their independence from Britain; bound themselves together in Articles of Confederation, formed a new nation, wrote a Constitution, created a congress to make laws, a president to lead, a supreme court to decide, a government to cover every contingency.  Why?  So that free and independent people might live in harmony to shape their own changing future by free, prudent, competitive, informed, honest voting. 

 

Betty, speaking for Frank: Those new Americans from 13 colonies were wise, substantive men of property who knew they had to compromise to accommodate colonies big and small, with immigrants from far and wide.

 

Frank: Each was different, each with varied jobs and incomes-- few rich; mostly hard working, aspiring small farmers, small shopkeepers. Those founding fathers and their successor leaders, in keeping with the mores of their time, warily accepted as inevitable the need of Southern growers of cotton and other crops for cheap African slaves. It was wrong.   We endured a civil war to right that wrong, and it gave us Abraham Lincoln.

 

Betty speaking for Frank:  We welcomed indentured servants from mother England who would in time earn full citizenship; admitted low cost Chinese laborers to help lay iron track for railroads; opened wide liberty doors to massive poor immigrants needed for Northeast manufacturing and trade, encouraged the adventurous to fill the unfilled west to the Pacific Ocean.

 

Frank: What followed? How did America change?  How did we get into our time of trouble?  How did we rise so high and then, recently, fall so low? Listen to insights about our rise and fall from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, Social Science Professor Robert J. Gordon.  His book is titled:  The Rise and Fall of American Growth; The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016. 

 

Betty for Frank:  Robert J. Gordon wrote that in our first hundred years, about 1776 to 1876, we had small population growth, small economic rise, and wee endured a divisive Civil War.  The next hundred years, roughly 1876 to 1976, our country mushroomed phenomenally with massive population growth, more and greater inventions, plentiful jobs, despite of and in consequence of World Wars 1 and 2.

 

Frank; That 1876-1976 boom was spectacular.  Living conditions changed beyond recognition for nearly every American. Electric lights replaced candles and kerosene and whale oil; indoor flush toilets replaced outhouses; national highways replaced country roads; electric lights replaced oil-lit, then gas-lit homes, Electric washers replaced porch-based scrub boards, gasoline-driven cars replaced horses and horse driven carriages, steam and electric trains, new phones, ever new electronic gadgets. New York City’s financial district, a muddy street in the 1880s, boomed as Wall Street.  We became the world’s financial center.

 

Betty speaking for Frank:  We became the world’s leading democracy. But that once in our national lifetime 1876 to 1976 boom could not, did not last.  USA job losses worried us.

 

Frank: Life for many blue collar Americans went downhill. USA manufacturing lost jobs to cheap labor abroad.  Coal use dropped, replaced by lower priced natural gas and other lower polluting energy sources.  USA shoppers bought cheaper made goods abroad rather than USA made goods. Result: USA job losses, job losses. The military-industrial complex then mired us down in ongoing unwinnable wars in Vietnam and elsewhere.  It was the downward bust after the uplift boom plus ongoing wars that created our current USA and World unsolvable problems which we earlier highlighted.

 

Betty Speaking for Frank:  In the November 8, 2016 presidential election angry hard working Americans who lost jobs voted for a change agent, a conservative real estate billionaire who repeatedly  tweeted: I will make America great again.  What’s ahead, Frank; will our future be better or worse?

 

Frank:   Nuclear war, if it comes, will take survivors 100 or more years to rebuild a broken world.  We must avoid such carnage, must create Brooks’ suggested Peace Army to uplift the fallen, to heal the world, to spread life-long learning to all people young and old, emphasizing goodness, honor, nobility, truth, and helpfulness. Each one teach one lifelong must become universally ingrained.

 

Betty For Frank: We humans have damaged, fouled, our God-given earth, air, rivers, oceans with garbage and harmful carbon smoke. We’ve learned to live with it but we have possibly doomed life on earth for future generations.  We unwisely brought on our big floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, foul air resulting in mounting illnesses and early deaths. 

 

Frank:  In a hundred years we may be forced to leave our beloved but human-fouled Earth writes our one of the great living scientist, Cambridge University professor Stephen Hawking, himself immobile, speechless, wheel chair bound with Lou Gehrig’s disease, communicating only with a twitch near his right eye.  He believes the future of our children’s children’ future is up there, up in space. Hawking believes, future generations must go up there, up there, to adapt to livable conditions, perhaps to find more advanced forms of life, to learn if those on other planets had the equivalent of Moses or Mohammad or Jesus.  

In ending, I say: let us all on this Earth do the best we can to save a life, to save the world.   Bless all in this house.  Thank you.   Thank you, projectionist Phil Nevius.   Thank you, Book Review hosts Don and Mary Schantz. Thank you, audience.  It’s your opinion & question time.              END.

 

Note:  Besides the books cited above, we searched many aspects of this topic at google.com plus other search engines, including http://teachthought.com/learning/100-search-engines-for-academic-research/

 

Contact:  bfparker@ frontiernet.net


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