When the Cold War ended and the Iron Curtain was torn down, we thought the world was moving toward a more peaceful existence.
Nations could focus more on improving the living conditions for their citizens and technological advances would help us realize that with a world economy, war was something the world could do without. We envisioned the spread of democracy and capitalism throughout the world. Other nations were hungry for the lifestyle we enjoyed in the U.S.
Unfortunately, the world has now become more dangerous than before. The events of 9/11 in 2001 and 2012 have proven that even with all our military might, technological weaponry and vast intelligence networks we can easily be attacked without much threat of recourse. Instead of being grateful for the outreach our country has provided around the world, we are more despised both by countries who feel entitled to our continued financial and military support and by revolutionaries who see our vulnerabilities as grand opportunities to humble the last great superpower.
In today’s world, it’s no longer just nation against nation. We now face various factions, radical jihadists, unstable regimes and traditional countries with an ever-growing appetite to increase their military might and influence around the globe. As a nation that grows tired of war, serving as the world’s policing agency and facing severe financial limitations, we lack the political motivation and sense of national unity when it comes to providing the world with leadership it so desperately needs. If the U.S. doesn’t take the lead, some other nation will, most likely China.
Fifty years ago, the world stood at the brink of Armageddon for 13 days in Oct. 1962 when President John F. Kennedy drew a symbolic line in the Atlantic and warned of dire consequences if Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev dared to cross it. An American U-2 spy plane flying high over Cuba had snapped aerial photographs of Soviet ballistic missile sites that could launch nuclear warheads with little warning at the U.S., just 90 miles away. It was the height of the Cold War, and many people feared nuclear war would annihilate human civilization.
Dan Alexander is publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.