by Sundar J.M. Brown
Thomas L. Friedman has produced an excellent and persuasive piece in the March 6, 2011 print edition of The New York Times, one which illustrates the truly dysfunctional and co-dependent nature of much of the United States’ relationships with several Middle Eastern and South Asian countries. In that regard, Mr. Friedman hits the nail on the head. With his suggested resolution, however, I emphatically disagree.
Friedman writes, “But we could do what we can, which is divert some of the $110 billion we’re lavishing on the Afghan regime and the Pakistani Army and use it for debt relief, schools and scholarships to U.S. universities for young Egyptians and Tunisians who had the courage to take down the very kind of regimes we’re still holding up in Kabul and Islamabad.”
What we can do, what we should do, is, “…divert some of the $110 billion we’re lavishing on the Afghan regime and the Pakistani Army and use it for debt relief, school and scholarships to U.S. universities for young” Americans.
The hubris with which America has viewed its international development projects of the past five-plus decades must be challenged head-on. The “friendships” which that international assistance bought us have long since expired. Not only are many foreign nations looking at America and Americans unfavorably- thus making it unsafe for American political figures, or even common American citizens, to travel safely in other parts of the world- those nations are also proving that they don’t need our help to get things done.
Americans and America need to take care of Americans and America, first. Our number one priority as a nation should be to successfully manage and execute a majority fix of America’s unemployment and sub-standard public education systems. The economy and educational system are like the stomach of any nation. If we don’t feed the stomach, the entire body dies.
Once those are resolved, the U.S. will be in a much more stabilized position, one from which we can truly ensure a continuing development of, and ongoing protection of, American values. Only then can this nation begin to- and much more carefully and much more slowly than before- extend its assistance to others. Furthermore, American assistance should only be provided to those willing to enter into legally binding agreements which produce an end-user benefit for American economic and educational development.
Any other use of American monies is a great disservice, and a massive insult, to the very people of this nation whose sweat, blood and tears allow America to extend itself at all. Rather than waste and denigrate American lives, let us support, build up, and develop one another as educated, determined, hard-working, dedicated citizens.
Let America focus its energy and resources on its own homefront. Let us reinitiate and re-fulfill the greatest legacies left by American history- that a nation, despite being composed of the most diverse array of personalities and cultures, when undivided, will produce generation after generation of empowered personalities, sentient beings who are bound together by caring for themselves and for one another. Let us be an example to the global population that accepting responsibility for one’s deficiencies is the only way in which those deficiencies will ever be overcome. Let us be an inspiration to human beings everywhere that such a life of determination, compassion and freedom is entirely possible, if one only takes responsibility for oneself.
Those ideals are the true American commodity. Those principles are the result of a unified American work in progress. What great men will do, common men will follow. Let us, then, dedicate ourselves to that culture of greatness and, once again, offer something of true value to the rest of the world.