Some might claim the beginning of the end of real American goodness began with the ill-fated Vietnam War. 59,000 U.S. service personnel perished in the Vietnam conflict. Estimates of the total death toll of Vietnamese Cambodians go beyond 2 ½ million.
The domino theory propaganda pitch to inflame the American public into the war mode was that if Vietnam became a Communist nation, all of Asia would collapse to Communism like a row of dominoes.
U.S. leadership at that point in history conveniently ignored Vietnamese preference of government polls revealing 90 percent of the Vietnamese people wanted Communist rule.
When the U.S. eventually made a hasty retreat from this ill-fated conflict, those die hard war enthusiasts insisted we could have won if we had stayed longer.
Robert McNamara, who had served as secretary of defense during much of the Vietnam War, later wrote a book explaining he believed it would not succeed during his tenure of service.
Courageous New York Times reporter David Halberstam, who had been expressing in articles reported from the embattled nation the same doubts McNamara later conceded he felt during that same period, blasted the former defense secretary for questioning his patriotism and that of others sharing Halberstam's view in print.
The right to express one's opinion that the Vietnam War represents sadly the beginning of the end of America's goodness falls under freedom of expression, doesn't it? Isn't that very significant freedom what American veterans claim is the reason they fought for America?
Another big step backward, a fatal step that killed much of the U.S.A.'s economic power, was the signing of the North America Free Trade Agreement by Bill Clinton and the creation of the World Trade Organization.
U.S. labor was among the highest paid in the world, making its standard of living the envy of those residing in other countries. But U.S. big business tycoons jumped for joy the moment NAFTA became law.
Now U.S. manufacturers were empowered to transfer entire factories to foreign locales. At last they had broken free of those union victories that gave labor the high wages that made it possible for individuals to rise from poverty to wealth.
Immigrants flooded the U.S. with the hope of participating in the prosperity promised to those who took advantage of the educational opportunities offered at reasonable costs, allowing for advancement to achievers.
What has happened since this much vaunted agreement was signed? The answer is simply stated. The U.S. manufacturing base collapsed as corporations, some even obtaining nifty tax benefits, relocated quickly to third world, cheap labor countries.
The New York Times on March 5 revealed that General Motors announced that unless the government gave them billions more by March 15 that it would declare bankruptcy.
G.M. had for many years been the number one moneymaker in the U.S.A. General Motors stock shares fell to a feeble 75 year low.
On March 6, ABC Television's evening news with Charlie Gibson announced that 12 ½ million Americans are now unemployed. There are 37 million on food stamps, with the homeless living in tent cities in many major U.S. metropolises. 2 ½ million homes face foreclosure. Millions more are months away from foreclosure.
Republican icon Ronald Reagan declared it was morning in America, hastily lowering taxes on America's most wealthy. He flaunted his infamous "trickle down theory" that allowing the wealthy to make more money would see wealth trickle down to everyone.
Instead an opposite outcome occurred. The gap between the rich and poor greatly expanded. The greed is good philosophy did create more billionaires than ever before. At the same time scores of Americans dropped below the poverty line.
The irony of how wrong the Reagan philosophy, a revival of that adhered to by his hero president of the twenties, Calvin Coolidge, was that more millionaires had been created during the administrations of Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy, when the U.S. tax rate was at an all time high of 91 percent with numerous deductions available to wealthy Americans in that or other high categories.
The Reagan administration ended with the Iran-Contra scandal. The issue of impeachment against Reagan was considered since illegal funding to Nicaragua's contras, the guerrilla group strongly supported by him, violated the Boland Amendment and hence U.S. law. Nevertheless Republican zealots named an airport after him.
George Bush the Elder claimed to have considerable knowledge of foreign affairs. He has been credited with going into the Gulf War to stop Saddam Hussein from his terrible invasion of Kuwait.
But was the Gulf War really necessary? That is the question.
Kuwait was slant drilling, stealing Iraq's oil. This slant drilling theft violated international law. Saddam was therefore justified in objecting to Kuwait's oil theft.
When the burning question of whether the Bush administration objected to him invading Kuwait, its Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie stated that this was an "Arab-Arab" problem to be solved by them and that the U.S. would do nothing. This reply gave the green light to Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait.
After the occupation of Kuwait by Iraqi troops, President Bush appeared on national television, declaring what a terrible thing it was for Saddam to invade Kuwait. Even though Ambassador Glaspie had in effect given the Iraqi dictator a green light to invade, Bush railed that "aggression will not be allowed to stand" and at one juncture referred to Saddam Hussein as "worse than Hitler."
Russia tried vigorously to resolve the problem diplomatically. Saddam reportedly wanted no more than a concession from Kuwait to cease its slant drilling. Bush's close oil business friend and Secretary of State James Baker insisted that no concessions would be given, insisting that Iraqi troops be withdrawn immediately from Kuwait.
TV news accounts showed Iraqi soldiers running across the desert, many with their arms upheld in surrender, as coalition tanks mowed many of them down. How many Iraqis died in the war will never be known. When Colin Powell was asked by reporters to provide an estimate of Iraqi deaths he stated bluntly that he was not concerned about the subject.
Now we come to what may be America's darkest days of decline and destruction, the George W. Bush reign of error.
The 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, if analyzed logically, could have been linked to world trade deals that some nations were enraged about. They figured the U.S. was exploiting the poor people of the world.
The World Trade Center represented the headquarters for worldwide economic exploitation. There never was an independent investigation of who and exactly why the World Trade Center was targeted.
George W. Bush in his State of the Union Address stated in no uncertain terms that the U.S. had knowledge of Saddam Hussein's "weapons of mass destruction" and that the Iraqi strong man must be stopped immediately. All this hysteria occurred while not allowing UN weapons inspectors to verify this grave charge.
We now know that the "weapons of mass destruction" never existed, nor did the nuclear weapons development threat. The Iraq War took off with a title appropriate for a horror film called "shock and awe."
Saddam's statue was dramatically overturned on worldwide TV. Saddam was finally found after much destruction and civilian deaths. He was convicted following a brief trial.
The democracy and peace ploy was used but the weapons scare proved false. 4 ½ million Iraqis were displaced, fleeing to Iran, Syria, and Jordan.
The Just Foreign Policy website estimates that 1,307,319 Iraqis died, and 4,243 U.S. service personnel were killed.
All this occurred with a Republican administration not allowing the flag-draped coffins of these brave human beings who gave their lives being shown on American television. But the 55,000 wounded can be seen struggling on American streets, some without arms or legs, some even homeless.
They are returning to a nation that left the banks and businesses go unregulated to a large degree, large enough to destroy the economic base of the U.S.A.
The national debt skyrocketed to over $10 trillion for future generations to pay back these loans with interest from China that keep the U.S. going.
With 37,750 lobbyists chasing around Washington with hands full of cash from big business to assist congressional members in decision making, it has become a government influenced by lobbyists, too often more than voters.
With it now costing a million or more to run a political campaign, cash can come in handy.
Bernard Madoff's $50 billion fraud Ponzi scheme has left hundreds of thousands broke. Collapsing banks that had given sub-prime loans provided excessive bonuses to executives during those same tragic periods.
America ceased being great when it ceased being good.
KEYWORDS: Vietnam War, Iraq War, U.S. Economic Collapse
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