Friday, June 3, 2016

THREAT AND REALITY OF FOREIGN WARS AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE GROW DAILY: DOES ANYONE CARE?

Our nation's media is consumed in talking endlessly and repetitiously about the highly contentious, extremely divisive  election campaign we are experiencing.  Every news network is continuously dissecting each candidates statements, the pros and cons of their personalities and their stand, or lack of it, on key issues. As important as the outcome of this election is, there are two other absolutely crucial, potentially deadly, concerns increasing daily that demand attention. In our nation's foreign relations as well as within our own society, violent threats are growing  that our leaders and our media  studiously avoid placing any real emphasis upon, either deliberately or out of ignorance. These are: 1) the seriously rising threat of major warfare erupting between nuclear powers, and 2) the greatly increased frequency of lethal outbreaks of violence within our domestic society, now occurring literally on a daily basis throughout the United States.  These concerns will be discussed below, and possible reasons for their relative absence from our press and our public awareness explored in some depth.

 Our leaders are certainly aware of the reality of the overseas threats.  We are becoming more and more confrontational with Russian forces--in the Baltic Sea area as naval forces threaten engagement;  in the backing of different sides as the chaotic Ukrainian crisis remains unresolved; along the eastern flank of Europe as our missile installations in Romania and Poland are seen by the Russians as highly threatening to them; and in Syria where the West and Russia are backing opposing sides in the war that divides that nation.  In the Far East, our military is confronting Chinese forces in the South China Sea over China's military developments on contested islands, and challenging statements are repeatedly made by political and military leaders of both powers.  Yet, even with  these potentially explosive situations, little is being said by our leadership or by our media about the inherent risks implicit in these situations, the policies leading to their development remain unchanged, and no serious diplomatic negotiations are underway to reduce or resolve the mounting level of threat.  A few distinguished, highly respected individuals have voiced their considerable concern, ex-Ambassadors, former Senators, retired military officials. Their statements, however, are either totally ignored by the media or buried in pages which are outside of mainstream attention. In short, the awareness of potential and growing risk of warfare which could, tragically, become nuclear, is being avoided. Why?

Meanwhile, on the domestic front, homegrown lethal violence has become epidemic, virtually a daily event at locales throughout the United States. Breaking news interruptions of regular broadcasting announce the latest mall shooting, school lockdown, air flight disturbance, bombing occurrence. Only a small majority of these are related to foreign terrorist groups. The vast majority are a profound indication of a serious collapse in the emotional well-being of our nation. Rampant, uncontrolled anger, rising unchecked, breaks through any remaining veneer of civility, leaving both intended and unintended victims in its wake. Most occurrences are perpetuated not by hardened criminals, but by previously law-abiding citizens who have harbored grudges or malevolence, with rage unpredictable breaking through. Mental health services are insufficient and incapable in preventing the mayhem, law enforcement can only pick up the pieces.  The public is aware of the possibility of unexpected danger, and warn their children and loved ones to take what preventive steps they can, but know how inadequate and insufficient those steps are.  The nation's stress level is rising, at times to an individual's breaking  point. Whether over finances, relationship failure, health issues, career goals, etc., excessive stress leads to frustration, which can lead to aggression, and violent outbreaks in its most heightened form. Effective prevention calls for a major increase in mental health awareness, availability, and resources, all calling for money which is not forthcoming in our current political climate.

The fact that our domestic threat level has risen precipitously in recent years may be related to the central question raised earlier--why so little concern has been expressed over the rising danger of wars overseas that could become nuclear.  Since the possibility of violence, however rare, is a threat we are becoming accustomed to living with on a daily basis in our own communities, are we becoming immune to concern over distant international threats, even if the nuclear threat is there? We are already engaged in our nation's longest lasting war, continuing endlessly in the Middle East, even expanding in spite of the public's growing disillusionment over it. We have been attacked in our homeland, we live with daily threat. Are we becoming burned out by these threats, seeing little or no relief in sight? Our Congress has been stymied for the past seven years by obstructionism and gridlock, pressing issues of all kinds remain unattended, citizens' needs left under-served. A few people protest, most observe with muted resignation and relative silence. Is it possible even the possibility of a nuclear war barely raises the reading on our alarm meter?

Our nation's leaders are not likely to call attention to the nuclear risk, grave as it is. They know the public is not in the mood for more war. Yet, it is our leadership's own policies that are heightening the risk. They are promoting the political and military moves, for their own strategic reasons, that are threatening Russia on its borders in eastern Europe. Little attention is given, and no credibility granted, to Russia's perspective on the conflict over the Ukraine, or to the legitimacy of their claim to Crimea.  The risk of war with China may be less than it is with Russia at this time, but the tensions are growing, and again it is our forces that are extending their reach into what China considers its sphere of influence, not the opposite. Its a stretch to consider our vital interests at stake, unless one considers the entire world to be within our own sphere of influence.  Only the publicly-discredited neoconservative foreign policy movement would extend our power to such an extent, but those views do still exist within our leadership, more surreptitiously now, among influential Democrats as well as Republicans, including those likely to assume more power as a result of the coming election.

With our leadership choosing to downplay any real risk of nuclear war, while still continuing the policies that perpetuate the threat, the media seems content to keep its focus on daily realities, breaking news whether from the existing Middle East fighting, the election campaigning, the freeway chases, the ever-changing news cycles, the rotating talking heads. The rising level of anger apparent in our society is a compelling spectacle to observe, and draws increasing numbers of participants. So infectious, in fact, that one party's presidential candidate manifests that anger daily,  and it has become the basic substance of his campaign.  What is missing from the media, and from the mass public's awareness, is an awareness and appreciation of underlying issues, a deep analysis and understanding of the consequences of current policies and actions. It shouldn't take an outbreak of nuclear war to reawaken the public to the inherent danger that is currently at stake.  A chorus is needed to sound the alarm before it is too late. A nuclear "mushroom cloud" warning was once given to promote a false, unnecessary war. It would be tragic if when the danger is real, the warning was not given, and the public remained blind of an approaching, preventable calamity.