STAFF SOAPBOX

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
The United States has to regain its identity as a nation. This means that you as an individual, with your responsibilities of citizenship, also must regain your sense of what it means to be an American.

The nation cannot afford the continuing tendency of its political leaders and news media to call it “the world’s only remaining superpower.”

Historically speaking, the two decades that have passed since the demise of the Soviet Union represent a short period. In the heady times of no longer being faced with the unified might of that terrible adversary, it has seemed natural for us to spout off about being the world’s remaining superpower.

But it has to stop.

Americans can long note the fumbling of our French brothers as they keep on struggling with the loss of Napoleonic identity. They are the same French who helped the United States in the Revolutionary War, and later gave it the Statue of Liberty.

Yes, the United States twice played a primary role in saving France from being conquered by Germany. Are the French grateful? Do they remember the sacrifice? Yes, they do, hence the continual invitation for the American president to speak at D-Day anniversaries when everybody weeps for past losses and nobility.

To say the French don’t matter is folly on our part and disrespectful of the long relationship our nation has had with them. They matter just because they are there.

Are they arrogant? Well, they do have their own problems, but so do Americans. If at a pivotal time in life you save a sibling from disaster, perhaps even save his life, do you plan to bring it up every time there is a new situation to face? This probably would not be the way to true brotherly love, and may create resentment.

This comes back to the original statement about this nation being the world’s only superpower. History whispers of the many great nations remembered only by the few chapters they occupy in a history textbook.

The United States may have only a relatively short window of time to guarantee that it will continue to be a great nation. The notion begs definition. It challenges us to realize that when Americans call a brother “arrogant,” we may need to look in a mirror to check for the same neurosis.

Yes, the physical evidence of American power covers the globe: a military presence with its technical proficiency; its long-standing reputation as the agricultural wonder and breadbasket of the world; its unparalleled advances in technology and achievement.

America’s citizens enjoy relative affluence-as evidenced by the rush of immigrants to come share in it. One can only hope these newcomers still crave the spiritual and mental well-being illustrated here.

The economic growth of former adversaries Germany and Japan is also an indicator of the internal values they saw in Americans.

Warnings are abundant that America’s sole-superpower status may fade. China and India have far larger populations than the United States, and they are becoming superstar exporters. They even export grain when only a short time ago they were thought of as starving nations.

Americans proclaim our respect for life. But we forget that people are wealth. People have the dreams and the capacity to work to make them reality. A large population may be a facet of wealth instead of the infringement of nature we tend to make of it. Americans expend more resources for the sake of automobiles than for people.

Other superpowers also are emerging. Russia is reclaiming breadbasket status as its farmers become independent of stifling state control and embrace modern technology.

A Europe that becomes truly united will be formidable in population and economic clout-perhaps even in heart if its people are well.

A Brazil that is well, an Argentina that is well-the list of nations that can be wealthy or powerful in some respect goes on and on.

The United States must remember it is one nation among many. Situations must be solved, wars fought, and tradeoffs made that are in the American interest-which is not always the same as the interests of super corporations. Instead, it is doing what is best to ensure the God-given rights afforded every citizen by the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

The psychology can’t continue that we are the world’s policeman, that we will pure economics that benefit only a few, or that can orchestrate a new world order.

Instead, decisions need to be made that reflect the God-given inner values that each American citizen has the responsibility to seek throughout his or her lifetime.

Americans must realize again where their faith and truth lay, and cling to them to survive in the changing world. The citizens of other nations will respect that, but they will not respect cynicism and arrogance. We won’t respect ourselves either if we don’t regain the better elements of our past to carry us into the future.

This begs the question of how the war in Iraq meets these needs. Will it have been justified? The answer is that the war probably is justifiable, and can produce results that benefit the interests of American citizens.

Terrorists now are faced with the formidable presence of sizeable American forces in their backyard. They are called to do battle where our forces can get at them instead of slinking in the shadows. They answer by killing the helpless.

Libya saw the handwriting on the wall of what would be tolerated, and scrambled to announce it was changing its ways. The semi-hostile governments of Syria and Iran have been given pause.

Allies in the region celebrate the fall of the crazy dictator who threatened them, although most do so quietly. Saudi Arabia is forced to control its radicals or show itself for what it is.

The discovery of Iraqi nuclear warhead missiles and gas canisters suggest what was being contemplated by Saddam, even if the stores of materials to go with them were not found.

The presence of a democratic Iraq would stand as a spiritual force to spark truth and liberty for others in the area.

The Vietnam-influenced image of a will-shattered, tail-between-its-legs United States that won’t stay the course to protect itself may finally have been shattered. The noose is tightening around the necks of the killers.

Was the war in Iraq started for the right reasons? Maybe, maybe not. But your nation is in it now. To pull out even with the best of face-saving moves would be devastating to foreign policy and this country.

Whether the results of this war are good depends on what the United States decides to be, and what you as an individual citizen of that nation decides to be.

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