This is the third in a series of short essays focusing on our constitutional history and constitutional leaders, all of whom had a significant impact. This series will attempt to relate the unique features that defined their leadership with an eye toward elucidation of our constitutional system as well as a deeper understanding of our national history. If Thomas Jefferson had been an airplane, he would have been named the Spirit of America. He articulated the vision that has contributed to the development path of the United States since its beginning.
Homer noted, “History is the Oracle of Truth.” He was right. His concept of history taps a thread so fundamental to human existence that it influences almost every aspect of life and society. From insurance rates and educational opportunities, to legal proceedings and science, we can’t escape the pull of history. For thousands of years, mankind has understood we must capture and remember what was so we consider what may follow. History also demonstrates when people study the past they become masters of the present. Conversely, things we ignore often ironically remind us of what we must not forget.
There are so many important issues that can directly affect each and every one of us, but the news media, exploiting sensationalism at the expense of providing us with needed information, seems intent upon fanning the flames of discontent, division and partisanship. Which news are you watching tonight? ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC or the Fox News Channel? Too often we find ourselves watching the one we trust, which really means the one with which we most agree. Some of us, in order to provide balance, switch back and forth from one news channel to another trying to figure out some semblance of truth.
As the Trump Administration ushers in uncertain change, one of those changes must become certain if the Administration is serious about national security: a resilient U.S. electrical grid. Our continued failure to allocate the manageable expense of shoring up our grid against phasic-probability, high-impact destructive events is an unabating gamble with the survival of 350 million people and the progress of our predecessors. Some have defended the slow pace of proofing the U.S. electric grid, citing the low-probability of high-impact risks posed by Electromagnetic Pulse and/or solar Coronal Mass Ejection events. However, our nation’s resilience, defense, and security should not be left to luck. No one would step into an escape room with a 10% chance of death during the game, yet Lloyd’s of London assessed that there is a 12% chance per decade that North America will be impacted by a significant CME event. Furthermore, the insurance syndicate notes CME impact is “almost inevitable.”
For thousands of years, victories of almost any kind have been hard-fought and often accompanied or brought about by great struggle and sacrifice, and often the loss of life. Yet, somehow over the course of 100 years, an expectation has been created that people can enjoy the fruits of victory without the labor required to produce it. This has led to a sense of entitlement and an aversion to anything that causes discomfort – even words and ideas.
At the conclusion of World War II, Gen. Henry H. “Hap” Arnold made a prediction: “We have just won a war with a lot of heroes flying around in planes. The next war may be fought by airplanes with no men in them at all. … It will be different from anything the world has ever seen.”
His timing wasn’t exact, but he was prescient. Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, weren’t used in the next war, but they have been deployed extensively in the global struggle against terrorism and extremist ideologies. And now we have to be careful they’re not used against U.S. interests by terrorists who modify civilian drones.
Each quarter the American Leadership and Policy Foundation interviews individuals who are true American leaders to feature in its “National Leaders” series. These individuals are patriots that have made great, meaningful contributions to the United States of America and its citizenry. Natascha F. Saunders, Director of Fellowships (Interim) and Senior Fellow at the American Leadership & Policy Foundation, had a chance to interview Nicholas A. Uchalik, ALPF Research Fellow, who currently serves as a Congressional Relations Officer, Department of Veterans Affairs. Mr. Uchalik previously served as a Legislative Analyst and Recovery Act Analyst for The White House Office of Management and Budget; in addition, he brings entrepreneurial experience to the table having started a business in the Detroit area of Michigan.
A few months ago we discussed some of China’s actions in both the East China Sea near Japan and the PLAN ship movement in US territorial waters. This article will describe a few of the more recent Chinese actions in contested waters, (specifically the South China Sea) what it means for the region, as well as what it means for the US. China has been busy. In addition to the continued building up of artificial islands and reefs in contested areas, the country has added assets to other islands. The PLA has set up radar and airstrips on the Spratly Islands. This is problematic since these could be used for military purposes although China claims it’s for civilian use. A more troubling development is on the Paracels where it is believed they now have surface-to-air capabilities on Woody Island. In recent weeks Chinese ships entered Japanese territorial waters as Japan was holding military drills with India and the US. In addition, last week saw China protest over Japan’s scrambled jet response to its fighter jet patrols of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.
It’s “the state of forming a complete and pleasing whole, especially in an artistic context” according to Google, and to Merriam-Webster it’s “a way of combining the parts in a work of art or literature so that they seem to belong together.” It’s what has made our nation strong, and a lack of it will lead to our demise. Can you guess what it is? I’ll tell you what it isn’t: diversity.
We have a fascination with the birth, life and passing of civilizations. From archeology to anthropology, new science and methods such as radio carbon dating help mankind explore and probe the depths of our history. All ancient civilizations have one thing in common – they’ve passed away; some for reasons known, and some unknown. Thus, as the last flickers cast by a dying star, we are often left with traces and artifacts of brilliance and splendor lost. If ancients could return to speak to the modern world, would there be an admonition to those of us living atop the ruins of ages past? Homer may have answered this question best, “History is the oracle of truth.” Perhaps contemporary civilization should look to common threads woven through lost worlds and extract self-evident truths. In many instances, perhaps unwittingly or even unintentionally, those messages have already been presented.
I heard someone speak recently about the statistics that came out of Baltimore in January showing a marked increase in violent crime in 2015. A Jan. 15 New York Times article broke down the issue by numbers, and they were disturbing. There were 344 murders in the city in 2015, which was a 63 percent increase from 2014. The article contained this quote: ‘“I’m surprised that it was such a dramatic increase,” said Jeffrey Ian Ross, a criminologist at the University of Baltimore. “Nationally, violent crime is going down but there are selected cities where it’s gone up,” he said.’
Being in law enforcement has always been a tough job, but it’s been even more of a challenge in the past few years. I think what is truly notable is that my partners and I have the ability and heart to do our job even as it becomes ever more dangerous. I do it even as more people decide to hate me with every passing day; even as they decide to ignore the evil around them and blame those of us who battle that evil every day on our streets and in their neighborhoods. I am not afraid to fulfill my duty to protect citizens from criminals, even under increasing duress and danger, even knowing that public pressure may cause me to hesitate in a moment that costs my life.
At ALPF, some of our nation’s most talented scholars and innovators are working to find practical, commonsense solutions to our toughest challenges. To help meet these challenges, the Foundation’s newest office in Washington, D.C. will help facilitate collaboration between research fellows and the nation’s government. The new ALPF office is strategically located near the National Archives, White House, George Washington University, among other entities ALPF may interact with in its effort to provide unadulterated research for the American people.
Through global reach and global power, we have the ability to hold the interests of any adversary in the world at risk within minutes. But, there is one vulnerability that threatens to significantly degrade our ability to not only project power abroad, but protect our own homeland – electromagnetic pulse. The American Leadership and Policy Foundation has produced objective, vetted research that exposes the vulnerabilities of the United States’ power grid and, more specifically, the nuclear power grid and associated generation facilities. While the threats of EMP caused by a high-altitude nuclear detonation, or the similar force of massive geomagnetic disturbance event, are neither novel nor probable, they represent a real existential threat that could render useless all means of offensive and defensive actions in all domains of military operations.
Each quarter the American Leadership and Policy Foundation interviews individuals who are true American leaders to feature in its “National Leaders” series. These individuals are patriots that have made great, meaningful contributions to the United States of America and its citizenry.
Natascha F. Saunders, Director of Fellowships (Interim) and Senior Fellow at the American Leadership & Policy Foundation, had a chance to interview Phil Sumrall, Ret’11 NASA, who currently serves as a consultant and subject matter expert in the areas of aerospace design, advanced technology, and programmatic planning. Mr. Sumrall has also presented numerous scholarly papers to panels at conferences, forums, and symposiums such as: International Astronautical Congresses, AIAA Joint Propulsion Conferences, annual AIAA Space Conferences, and the international Space Propulsion Conference in 2008 and 2010.