America is Not Invincible

It is a plausible assertion to suggest that possibly the greatest threat to the United States is the pervasive sense among so many Americans that this country is invincible.  There seems to be a sense that because we are [presently] the world’s only Super Power, that somehow this position is self-sustaining, and destined to be everlasting…that any looming threats, internal or external, can ultimately be overcome by spending our way out of it.

They are wrong on all accounts.

America’s place in the world order, in history itself, is not assured by its past legacy (grand as that may be in many respects), but by (among other things) its ability to recognize its own limitations and to protect that which constitutes its sovereignty.  The core fibers that hold a Republic such as ours together, and strong from within, have a breaking point.  It serves us well to remember this.

One critical example of this dangerous spiral is made clear in the 2008 documentary I.O.U.S.A., and done so in a way that’s easy to understand, spoken in plain terms, and with a great deal of interesting, thought-provoking insights and information.

To give you an idea of what I mean here is a simple graph depicting America’s top 5 trade deficits (in 2007).  These are the countries to whom we owe the most money. As you look at this, remember that China is a Communist state, that the “Oil Exporters” are Muslim states, and that none of them are particularly fond of American Democracy or Western Culture.

trade deficits

This next screen capture shows a graph depicting the moments in U.S. history in which our Federal Debt (as a percentage of GDP) was at its most dangerous levels, and why.  Notice that the most critical point (at 122%) was during World War II.  Care to guess where it is now?  Watch the documentary to find out.

federal debt

I’ll close this post with an excerpt from the film:

If you look at what’s happened to great Republics in the past, they generally have not fallen because of external threats; they’ve fallen because of internal threats.  Let’s look at Rome as an example, which is the longest standing Republic in the history of mankind.  The Roman Republic fell for many reasons, but three seem to resonate today:  Declining moral values and political civility at home, overconfident and overextended militarily around the world, and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government.”

David Walker, Former Controller General of the Government Accountability Office

Published in: on August 13, 2010 at 12:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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5 Documentaries

Maximilian Kolbe once said, “No one can change the Truth. What we can do is to seek truth and serve it when we have found it…”

Of course that’s not always easy to do.  First, it’s sometimes difficult to recognize what’s true, and what isn’t.  Then, there’s figuring out what to do, or what is within our power to do, once we’ve come face to face with a truth worth acting upon.  It doesn’t always have to be monumental, or even life changing.  But sometimes it can be.

In the spirit of this theme I’d like to present 5 documentaries that, in my view, every American owes it to themselves to watch.  I can assure you, even if you don’t typically watch documentaries, you will not be bored by the content or presentation of these films.  They are each one at the top of their class.  Of course you’ll have to decide for yourself what bias each filmmaker brings to the table, and whether they unduly influence the message or the facts presented.  Remember, open-mindedness isn’t as much about being unbiased, as it is being honest with ourselves and others what biases we bring to the conversation.  And that is exactly what each of these films represent, a conversation that every conscientious American should, at the very least, be aware of.

In a few cases, I’ve linked to an introduction of sorts from previous posts.  Some of these are available for instant viewing, while others can be rented.  While they are listed here in chronological order I consider each one, it its own way, of equal importance.  Click on the title to follow the link.

The Future of Food (2004) – Trailer and homepage

Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price (2005) – SnagFilms

Why We Fight (2005) – Also available on YouTube

An Inconvenient Truth (2006) – On Documentary Lovers

A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash (2006) – Currently available on Documentary Lovers

I.O.U.S.A. (2008) – Available at Documentary Storm

EDIT (12/29/10): Make that six.  I’ve added “Why We Fight,” which, despite appearances, is more about the role of the Military Industrial Complex and its influence over U.S. Foreign Policy, rather than just the Iraq conflict (which happens to be the primary modern-day example given).

Published in: on October 15, 2009 at 10:05 am  Leave a Comment  
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National Public Radio

In a world of complex international issues and changing media there’s one outlet that offers a steady source of news, information and content.  National Public Radio, as its name suggests, is a non-profit organization dedicated to keeping its listeners abreast of important world events as they happen.  It’s a noncommercial entity that tries hard to remain unbiased and socially engaging.  Use the website to track down your local NPR partner, which will allow you to tune in on the radio for the drive to work.  If you’re at a computer that allows streaming radio it’s a great source for engaging talk radio or up-to-the-hour newscasts.  Look for those links in the upper right.  There’s so much more to discover here from Arts, Opinion, Politics, Music and a host of serious and light-hearted programs.

Published in: on July 28, 2008 at 10:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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History buffs, students and researchers may want to take a look at a relatively new site called Footnote – an ever growing archive of historical photos, documents and stories compiled by a community of fellow historians.  The site features an in-depth search tool and a very nice built in image viewer.  Many of the full size images are accessible only to members but there’s nothing to stop you from previewing most of the content.  Genealogists may find something here as well since many of the documents archived here pertain to immigration.  To fully appreciate what Footnote has to offer I recommend taking the Tour.

Printer Friendly Maps, National Geographic

Ever work on a project that called for a good printable map? They’re not as easy to find as one might think. Fortunately National Geographic has an excellent website for just such an occasion. Find a map for any geographic region, download it in PDF form or print it straight away. Content is neatly pre-formatted in black & white. A Great tool to have around when you need it.

Published in: on April 16, 2008 at 5:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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