Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Ties That Blind

For all the horrifying descriptions of the chemical weapons attacks in Syria that President Obama gave last night, his heartfelt and surprisingly brief plea to Americans likely changed the opinion of almost no one. That doesn't mean Americans have become heartless after more than a decade of war, that began this date, twelve years ago, in New York City, Washington, DC, and eventually, a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

We believe that Americans are truly concerned about the horrific deaths of thousands of innocent men, women, and children in Syria's civil war. We also think that progress has been made on a diplomatic solution, at a remarkably fast pace over the last few days. Just yesterday, the Syrian government agreed to join the international Chemical Weapons Convention, and hand over their entire chemical weapons stockpile to an international enforcement group.

To paraphrase President Obama though, just making a declaration doesn't actually get the work done.

However, as we noted earlier this week, the United States can not and should not be expected to unilaterally enforce a worldwide standard, when our nation is only one of many parties to that standard. Ethically as well as fiscally, America can no longer afford to be the policeman for the world.

In fact, we'd say the type and level of attention that the world has demanded that the U.S. give since the end of World War II, seems to have blinded many in America to the fact that far too often, we've failed our responsibilities to ourselves here at home.

For example, allowing blind people to have gun permits in Iowa.

That may seem like a joke to some people, but we can assure you, that's a very real issue facing citizens in Iowa right now. If Iowa politicians and voters hadn't been blinded by nearly limitless campaign spending from the NRA - the kind that got two state legislators recalled in Colorado last night - perhaps the citizens of Iowa could have focused on better water management laws. Instead, some state funding is tied up fighting blind people with guns, instead of being used to help handle the massive drought the Hawkeye state is now suffering through.

The distractions of war have also blinded America to the monster our surveillance state has become, especially over the last decade. That most NSA queries of the database broke Federal privacy laws from 2006-2009 is a shocking display of Federal incompetence - one that Americans might have noticed much sooner, if the U.S. wasn't always expected to be the enforcement arm for international law by nearly every other nation on the planet.

None of that even begins to touch on America's current inability to elect sane political representatives who understand simple macroeconomics - like the fact that raising the nation's debt ceiling is simply paying the bills we've already racked up.

Infrastructure, unemployment, education, taxation, inequality, crime - the list of things that need serious attention here at home from all Americans is longer and heavier than most of us even want to imagine. Yet, too often, we've been blinded by our focus on helping everyone else around the world, before we help ourselves.

Americans do understand the Syrian problem facing President Obama, and we'd wager that most Americans - even if they are skeptical - desperately want the diplomatic solution that is being discussed at this time, by multiple nations, to be successful.

That said, America simply can't focus on the rest of the world's needs before our own anymore.

We've already become too blind for our own continued safety.

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