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Published in News and Citizen 9-9-14

Nation Building? Whose Nation?

     Our country, through its media, through government, politicians and pundits has carried on quite a conversation about “nation building” in various places around the world. Southeast Asia, Africa and the mid-East have been singled out over the decades. But it seems to this editor that the American attention span, and maybe the attention span of democracies in general, is not lengthy enough for the job.
     Then there are the more philosophical questions involving whether a nation can be “grown” by any exterior force or if it simply evolves much more slowly, at its own pace, and will resist change.
    Take the concept of nation building after WWI, Mid-eastern countries had boundaries drawn in the sand that crossed religious, tribal, sectarian boundaries that may never have been drawn in a solid black line ever before. Just about every kind of link or relationship that binds a people together was cut in pieces. What’s happening now?
     I am not enough of an expert to know. But I do know that how governments [ie. Russia, U.S., Saudi Arabia, Iran] spread money, widespread knowledge of the world through the media, and propaganda has a lot to do with it. Means of identifying with each other when others have more are more easily seen. It is easier to see a common enemy.  That enemy is often the West and Western ways.
     Right now ISIS is being called a “legion of losers,” but it defies a meaningful, lasting military solution. Many have said there can be no military solution, but watch our overseas actions carefully. It seems that use of the military always produces postponements or intermezzos between major moves. It allows our incumbent politician to get out of the hot seat when he has no answers. Look for a lot of that.
    No one with the necessary patience, motive and money really wants to nation build. That would require an educated people who have the skills, information and resolve to decide and act rationally in their own best interest. That might not be where anyone wants to go.
     As for the U.S. I think we need to do some of our own down home nation building. Our conceit of coming from a fully formed mature country is showing serious cracks. We once strove to all speak English, immigrants strove to become Americans. Immigrants were some of the first volunteers into our armed forces to show their belief in their new country. Blacks strove to be treated equally in the services – and succeeded. These kinds of things made a nation.
     But what are we doing now? Teaching in foreign languages. Celebrating our diversity – not our unity. Sorry, in my view, this isn’t nation building and it’s right here at home. If our melting pot, taking the best of hundreds of cultures, is no longer working, how can we expect others to emulate us? Meanwhile the U.S. fields the mightiest armed forces in the world without a united, committed people behind it.
    The forces in the world that would appear to favor binding us, such as instant communication and intimately connected trade are not doing so. It looks as if we are headed for a worldwide bloody and bitter reenactment of the Crusades. We must find a new path forward into the future.