By Sal Bommarito
Many Americans are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their country. For good reasons, a great deal of criticism has been directed at the president and Congress. Our leaders deserve all the flak they have been receiving. Almost every important issue facing America is being mishandled because of a lack of experience, an inability to articulate problems and solutions, government paralysis and backlash from other nations.
Even more disconcerting is the style, or lack of it, that our leaders exhibit when dealing with complicated situations. The administration’s attitude is creating more enemies every day and an atmosphere that is not conducive to peace, comity, friendship and trust.
But rather than tear apart further what so many have already torn apart, this essay will offer five suggestions to get our country back on track to once again be the leader of the free world.
- RECORD SOME SMALL VICTORIES: The U.S. must get some important things done in Congress and around the world. It’s difficult to remember the last time America faced a true challenge, analyzed it accurately and dealt with it successfully. Recently, the Middle East conflicts, the Russian/Ukraine engagement, North Korea, Iran, illegal immigration, scandals in government agencies and many other situations have erupted, but none have been resolved or improved.
The U.S. needs to take smaller bites and win some battles. For instance, rather than trying to find a final resolution to the Israel/Palestine affair, our leaders should settle for a lasting cease-fire, a small but meaningful victory that will save lives. If the cease-fire holds, then we can begin the arduous process of trying to settle the longstanding issues that the opposing parties must resolve.
Simple? Not really. But if the objective is finite, truly obtainable and negotiated between people who trust one another, something will get done.
- BRING IN NEGOTIATORS THAT BOTH SIDES TRUST: The individuals currently negotiating Middle East crises are either incapable of closing a deal or untrusted by the interested parties.
I recall the efforts of Senator George Mitchell in the English/Irish feud. He was the right man for the job and successfully caused all the parties to sign the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
Similarly, the Simpson/Bowles bipartisan commission was established in 2010 by President Obama to formulate ways to bolster the economy. The co-chairs did an outstanding job and were supported by those on both sides of the aisle. Shockingly, the president decided to disregard the commission’s recommendations, and the country is still wallowing its way through the Great Recession.
In both cases, the individuals chosen were out of politics and were able to do great things. Selecting negotiators who are above the fray, not threatening to either side and well informed is a great way to get things done.
- DON’T BE DOGMATIC AND CONDESCENDING. Combatants in the Middle East and in Ferguson, Missouri are not interested in platitudes or moral blathering from our leaders. Each side has issues and problems, and they want them addressed.
In Ferguson, the local police are suggesting that Michael Brown, the black teenager who was killed by a policeman, was using marijuana and had been involved in a felony. African American leaders believe that an aggressive, militaristic, racially biased police force created an environment that makes black men vulnerable to abuse. Both sides need to be heard so that the events leading to the present standoff can be evaluated fairly and peace can be restored.
The governor of Missouri should retain outsiders that both sides respect and can trust to determine the truth, before a full-scale rebellion overwhelms the city. The police are not moved by the opinions of Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Eric Holder; and the townspeople are not satisfied with the assessments of the Ferguson police force by another police force. Bring in a peacemaker who can allay concerns on both sides.
- MOST NATIONS THINK WE ARE UGLY AMERICANS. We are not. America has fought wars to help the oppressed around the world. Our aid programs are larger than any other nation on Earth. Yet, we are doing a terrible job promoting the American way of life. Many people around world believe that every U.S. citizen is rich and only interested in material things. We need to show others that we are human; we have problems just like everyone else; and we want to work together to end aggression, human rights violations and economic imbalance.
- NEVER TURN YOUR BACK ON AN ALLY. Many are deeply concerned that our government is on the verge of turning away from Israel. The half-century ties between our countries should be solid as a rock, but some are endorsing the terrorist regime in Gaza.
Every nation in the world must be sure that when America signs a treaty, it will meet its obligations come hell or high water.
The global situation will improve if America leads the effort. We are the only chance for lasting peace and prosperity. Other large nations are withdrawing and leaving a huge vacuum that has enabled terrorists. America is the answer, but we must work in coordination with others.