Saturday, November 13, 2010

The American Dream - National Defense & International Relations

Building on the previous blogs about America's Future, let's get down to specifics. Where do we want to go over the next 20 years? What do want to achieve? What should we be doing? What is the 'American Dream' of those who are alive today?

As you look over the web site associated with this blog – America's Future 2020-2050 –  you'll find a lot of links to articles, studies, reports, party platforms, etc. focused on America's future. Surprisingly  - or maybe not so surprisingly – I find the Democratic and Republican platforms actually lay out pretty good realistic ideas about the future we ought to craft for our country.

If only some compromise could be arranged letting the best ideas move forward.  Wait! Isn't that what the American political process was set up to do? And while many rail against it, the Constitutional process is still chugging along and does work pretty well – if you really think about it.

So rather than get into a whole debate about the pros and cons of our political process and trying to blame somebody because the outcome doesn't please a particular person and group of people, lets look at what the political platforms say and see if we can list those areas where there is agreement about what they want for our future – America's future and the American Dream. 

This will be the subject of the next several blogs. Let's start with what they say and agree upon in a couple of key areas – national defense and international relations, before moving on to health care, education, and other areas.

National Defense

The Republican platform opens by stating that its ideals are those that unify our country: Courage in the face of foreign foes.  An optimistic patriotism, driven by a passion for freedom. It then lists quite a number of additional recommendations. All Americans should affirm that our first obligation is the security of our country.  In dealing with present conflicts and future crises, our president must preserve all options.  It then lists a number of other platform planks related to national defense. It states that:
·        The security of our country is everyone's responsibility, from the Department of Homeland Security to state and local first responders, private businesses, and individual families. 
·        That effective, layered missile defenses are critical to guard against the unpredictable actions of rogue regimes and outlaw states. 
·        Intelligence is America's first line of defense.  We must increase the ranks and resources of our human intelligence capabilities, and then integrate technical and human sources.
·        We must significantly increase the size of our Armed Forces; crucial to that goal will be retention of combat veterans. 
·        Returning veterans must have access to health care, education benefits, job training, and a wide variety of employment options. 
·        We must prevail in Afghanistan to prevent the reemergence of the Taliban or an al Qaeda sanctuary in that country. 

In contrast, the Democratic platform opens by stating that our economy is struggling and that our planet is in peril. That a great nation now demands that its leaders abandon the politics of partisan division and find creative solutions to promote the common good. "The American Dream is at risk." It appears that the first obligation for the Democratic party is the American Dream. It then goes on to state the following:
·        We need to renew American leadership on the world stage. That this will require diplomatic skill as capable as our military might.
·        It goes on to be more specific, stating that we must end the war in Iraq, but will continue to combat terrorism of all types and keep our country secure.
·        That as we combat terrorism, we must not sacrifice the American values we are fighting to protect.
·        We must revitalize and support the military, keep faith with our veterans and do right by them.

The common ground seems to be on (1) maintaining a strong military and (2) keeping our faith with, and obligations to, our nation's veterans.

Both parties stress the importance of national defense. Republican put defense as their highest priority for the country. In their platform, they state that our first obligation is the security of our country.  On the other hand, Democrats stress meeting the needs of our people and improving the economy, in addition to supporting national defense.

The question is what other items in either the Democratic or Republican platforms should we totally commit to as a country? Increasing investment in missile defense and intelligence capabilities? When to end our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Priorities and level of commitment seem to be where the parties truly differ.

International Relations

On international relations and diplomacy, the Republican platform state that:
·         Religious liberty is a central element of U.S. foreign policy.  Asserting religious freedom should be a priority in all America's international dealings.
·         They also call for the development of a strategy for foreign assistance that serves our national interest. 

The Democratic platforms states:
·        We need to renew American leadership on the world stage. That this will require diplomatic skill as capable as our military might.
·        We will also not shirk our global responsibilities in such areas as human trafficking, global health, global warming, and more.

Both parties recognize the importance of using both diplomacy and the military in international affairs. The Democratic platform seems to place more emphasis on diplomacy than military might, while the Republican seem to place more importance on the use of military might.

The Democratic platform talks about our global responsibilities and working with others on the world's stage to solve some major issues facing us all. The Republican platform zeroes in on using religious liberty and our national interests as the key measures whenever we choose to work with other countries.

While we may each have a personal preference as to which party has the best approach, as a country we have already decided that the party we put in power at a given point in time should have the leeway to choose the approach they think is best. That appears to be the agreed upon 'American way' and it's working fairly well.  

So, the bottom line is –
·        Both parties want to maintain a strong military in support of national defense.
·        Both want to take care of our veterans - citizens who have served and protected our country..
·        Both parties recognize we need to use both diplomacy and military force when it comes to international relations.

Those positions taken by both major parties seem to fit into the American Dream.