It is the summer of 1992.
In the previous three years:
- Eastern Europe has become democratic.
- The Berlin Wall fell.
- Germany reunited.
- President George H.W. Bush grounded Looking Glass.
- Hardliners attempted to overthrow Gorbachev.
- The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) ceased to exist.
- The Cold War ended.
- The United States military dealt a stunning defeat to Saddam’s vaunted military
The United States stood at a moment of singularity. Our power and prestige were at their pinnacle. Unchallenged.
Did we use this unprecedented position and influence to help shape the future of the world for the betterment of all mankind? Did we help Russia, and the other former Soviet republics, assimilate into the world economy? Did we work hard enough to understand the internal dynamics of Chinese society in order to nuture a positive orientation to the United States during their economic resurgence?
Did we wage peace?
After forty years of conflict with the Soviet Union in an epic battle of ideologies; why did we have no Marshall Plan to secure the peace and rebuild regions of the world that had stagnated and fallen behind under the grip of communism?
The only screams I remember hearing out of Congress were from narrow-minded members seeking a “peace dividend”. The United States Army, the same force that performed so brilliantly in the Gulf War, was cut in half.
All of the finger pointing now about overtaxing Guard and Reserve troops is a direct result of this demand by Congress for a peace dividend in 1992. Congress knowingly cut the Army’s troop strength in half. They burdened the Guard and Reserve with missions formerly assigned to active duty units. Fast forward nine years to the Summer of 2001. Enter your local high school kid looking to serve their country for a few years locally while finishing school or working to save enough money to do so. If he has been lucky enough to not have been injured, that kid has just served two extended tours in Iraq within three years.
The term ‘You reap what you sow.’ comes to mind. We failed to take advantage of our unprecedented opportunity in the early nineties. We were all too enamored with Windows, and our Internet stock portfolios. Many of the issues we are facing now, and into the foreseeable future, are the direct result of neglecting key strategic relationships throughout the nineties.
This is not a partisan slap at any one party or administration. Both parties failed us. We need leadership at all levels of our government that are willing to plant seeds and nurture our global relationships. We can not afford to fail now. Me must use all of our hard and soft power to wage peace and secure a future for all the world’s children.