Saturday, March 01, 2008

Hubris, We Thought You Were Our Friend?

Col. Charles F. Hurlbut II (photo), is a former U.S. Army Security Agency Provost Marshal. He and his lovely wife, Ida, reside in Virginia in active retirement. From the vantage point of his distinguished career,and high-level duty assignments, which allowed him to observe, first-hand, the genesis of the myriad problems that beset America today, Col. Hurlbut speaks to us with the authority of one who has "been there, done that." - Steve Savage "King of the Beasts"
"My views as expressed here may not square with those of many of you, which is okay, for they may not be how many Americans see our country's situation today, but they honestly reflect my views at this time."

Chuck Hurlbut

Most people agree that America is in a terrible funk: our standing in the world is the lowest ever; the economy is tanking; governments, at all levels, seem incapable of effectively dealing with the challenges they face; the war in Iraq which most Americans do not support is costing us dearly in the lives of our young and billions of dollars of borrowed money; people, along with businesses and governments, are behaving irresponsibly by spending more money than they have; and rising energy prices conflict with our predisposition for gluttony. How can this all be? How is it that the most powerful and prosperous country ever on the face of the earth can be confronted by such a perfect storm of adverse circumstances?

Can't we easily, with our extraordinary American know-how, overcome any obstacle in our path? After all, we are the country that invented powered flight, the atomic bomb, the microchip, the Internet, the hoola hoop and the drive-in root beer stand. We won World War II and then revitalized and resurrected Europe with the Marshall Plan. After the War, we refocused our energies and talents on improving the standard of living for all Americans, and when some Americans were left behind and didn't share in the prosperity we introduced Great Society programs to economically and educationally uplift them and bring them into society's mainstream. Aren't we, after all, the chosen ones like our politicians like to remind us? Why, then, are we beset with the problems we have today?

Prior to World War II, America wasn't the supremely confident nation that she became and remained until very recently. We thought it was entirely possible that the war might be lost and our way of life unalterably changed. We were not at all confident and didn't take success for granted. We, therefore, channeled our energies in a highly focused manner and worked as one to assure success and the preservation of our American way of life. However, our greatest accomplishment, winning the war, also placed us on the path that's led us to where we are today. Our success in World War II, that came at an enormous personal and economic price with over 400,000 Americans dead and millions of others wounded, led us to believe in our own invincibility and infallibility.

Each of the past three generations, following the one we call the "Greatest Generation," has become increasingly convinced of America's moral and spiritual superiority and rectitude. To be sure, there have always been the sane and wise among us who have counseled us against our imprudent and self-destructive ways, but they've been relatively small in number and easily ignored and dismissed.

Ominous storm clouds first began to gather when we ignored the lessons of the Korean conflict. Limits to our military power became evident then, our perceived omnipotence constrained by the fact that we were not the only holders of the atomic trump card.

We continued our inclination to underestimate and under assess our adversary in the Vietnam war. We looked upon them as a nation of rice farmers and tree dwellers who would be awed by our superior power and intellect and would see the wisdom of following our guidance. Of course, we subsequently learned the error of our thinking when the sons and daughters of those who escaped from Vietnam in 1975 and settled in the U.S. went on to become the valedictorians of their high school classes.

We learned the hard way that the North Vietnamese were a far more resourceful, resilient, capable and sophisticated foe than we had any idea. Their abilities to intercept, decode and then act upon our tactical and strategic communications always exceeded our assessment of them and left us astounded when we ultimately learned of their capabilities.

There are countless other examples of our exuberant hubris, but I think the point has been made.

The American public is only partly to blame for all the problems stemming from this affliction. Our political leaders, not many of distinction, have fostered and cultivated this mentality for decades, but those presently in power are the worst offenders.

It's easy for the privileged and comfortable to see themselves and the country as an island of paradise amongst an archipelago of barren waste. Unfortunately, their lack of intellect, judgment, and common sense, are driving this country at an increasing
speed over a cliff that is coming closer and closer.

Those of us who are fond of studying Abraham Lincoln yearn for the day when another leader of his caliber will step forth and lead us in a positive direction. It had best happen soon, for there's precious little time to waste.


John said...

Sadly your comments will fall on many deaf ears. It is the propensity for people to think no further than their noses and to have instant gratification that has led our nation and our society to this point.

Basil Andrews said...

You yanks are the biggest ship on the ocean. If you sink you'll take us all with you. Where is that modern Abraham Lincoln whereof you speak? Here across the Pond we're scraping the halls of Harrow trying to find Churchill. How do we get them off their bloody arses to make themselves relevant?


Barry Kaplan, Queens, NY said...

While the economy is "tanking," as you put it, anti-semitic incidents are flourishing in response. Hate crimes such as knocking over gravestones, painting swaztikas on our temples, and violent attacks against Hassidic school children by black thugs who think they are muslims, are being reported in the Forward and other Jewish newspapers, but the mainstream media is looking the other way. Yes,as you say, "America is in a terrible funk" and it looks like the way things are going, the Jews are the ones that are going to be really "funked.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Col. Hurlbut's assertion that America has a superiority complex. America , like its putative mother , the UK , is on a respirator. Martin Masi