We continue to hear about how the nation (or, more accurately, the Democrats) is approaching the finish line of major health care reform in the country (or, more accurately, more government intervention in the delivery of health care service). Although there are merits within the sets of proposals from both sides of the house (e.g., it is hard to argue against eliminating provisions that allow for Americans to be denied access to health insurance), there is still an underwhelming theme to our times geo-politically as we progress through the Great Recession.
Much like the early 1930s, a Democrat president has ridden into office on the promise of restoring prosperity and opportunity for Americans after the erosion of banking institutions and Wall Street. Much like the decade of the 1930s, there is a strong and growing-still sentiment that America’s domestic needs trump the geo-political matters brewing outside of our immediate borders. Much like the 1930s, there are threats flexing their muscles rhetorically and militarily that remains off the immediate radar of a majority of Americans.
Unlike the 1930s, hopefully it will not take another surprise attack (especially post-9/11) in order to make the United States re-prioritize its focus and balance.
Rest assured, there are differences between the eras. Just the same, we should not automatically imply or believe that either Presidents Roosevelt or Obama misplayed their responses to threats overseas. However, with the current focus on health care reform (a second priority domestically to getting people back to work in the nation) instead of on other much-needed items on the American to-do list, the U.S. runs the risk of misplaying the trends that we are seeing geo-politically.
Seeing that the United States is preoccupied with bitter internal wangling on how to optimize one-sixth of its economy, Iran and North Korea continue to provide the equivalent of “bulletin-board material” for the Obama administration as both rogue nations continue to issue statements and threats that indicate a level of military confidence that primarily comes from an increase in military capabilities and a perceived sense of opportunity or weakness.
Although both incidents this past week—Iran’s comments about the “9/11 lie” and North Korea’s demand that regular, annual war games with the U.S. and South Korea be cancelled—can be seen as lame within their own constructs, they must begin to gain increased resonance in context of Iran’s nuclear pursuits and North Korea’s 2009 missile launches. With a distracted America that is stretched by domestic upheaval and two controversial wars already, it is a lot easier for malicious and ambitious global leaders to take advantage of the changing and turbulent economic climate until they approach a point where they decide to turbulently change the geo-political balance of power—just as Hitler and the Axis powers did some decades ago. In the midst of the Axis’ ascent to power in the 1930s, Americans routinely considered the mounting concerns overseas as a distraction when compared to the domestic issues stemming from the Great Depression.
Those that do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it—this time, possibly with the involvement of 21st century nuclear weaponry.
Health care reform is greatly needed and highly important. However, it has already become the Great Distraction that has altered the focus of leadership in Washington since 2009, including since the State of the Union Address when President Obama declared that jobs would be “priority No. 1” in 2010—only to see the health care reform debate continue to dominate the headlines and the attention in Washington. With the ambitions and perceptions for geo-political power-broking growing within Iranian and North Korean leadership, American leadership must find both bipartisan balance and resolution soon on these domestic matters before, like FDR, Obama is forced to tragically switch from being a president riding a crest of domestic change to a commander-in-chief guiding us through the perils of war with international madmen.
Lenny McAllister is a syndicated political commentator, podcast co-host, and the author of the book, “Diary of a Mad Black PYC (Proud Young Conservative,)” purchased online at www.tinyurl.com/lennysdiary and www.amazon.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/lennyhhr and on Facebook at www.tinyurl.com/lennyfacebook .