History will remember 2016 as a challenging year for America. Be it economic upheavals and civil disorder, or national security and cultural challenges, almost every corner of our society and our democratic way of life was tested. Not surprisingly, a great deal of the chaos we continue to endure has one root cause – a failure as a society to develop leaders with integrity. While our society struggles to re-establish its footing, the American Leadership & Policy Foundation stayed the course with an uncompromising determination to develop leaders who put America’s citizens before themselves. However, this has not been easy. Our foundation, too, has encountered many of the challenges confronting wider society. Notwithstanding, our vision remains fixed on service before self.
Does the decline of the Roman Empire portend America’s? The eighteenth century historian Edward Gibbon once wrote, “The long peace, and the uniform government of the Romans, introduced a slow and secret poison into the vitals of the empire. The minds of men were gradually reduced to the same level, the fire of genius was extinguished, and even the military spirit evaporated. Decline of genius was soon followed by corruption…” Given the present condition of our civil society and the threats we face both within and without, some modern leaders and scholars have drawn relatable parallels between United States and Rome in its final days. But is this the case?
I recently had the privilege of attending a Security and Defense summit in South Carolina hosted by the Citadel. The gathering pulled in members and leaders from every branch of military and government. For many, it was a chance to voice their concerns off the record. Sadly, most panels and discussions demonstrated one disturbing and re-occurrent theme – America is losing.
We are not the only generation of Americans to face overwhelming odds. In 1777, the American Colonial bid for independence teetered on failure. At Valley Forge, Washington’s army dangled by a thread; diplomatic relations between the French and colonists had stalled; and elsewhere, the Continental Army experienced strategic losses including the British occupation of Philadelphia – America’s largest city.
The hope of freedom was fading. Within the Continental Congress, some leaders began resigning the cause to fate. What turned the table on hopelessness?
While Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia and Egypt remain faltering democracies, no nation’s declension is more alarming than Turkey’s – a key Western ally that has enjoyed stability for more than five decades. In 2013, Turkey’s internal struggles made international headlines when hundreds of thousands of citizens gathered in the nation’s largest cities to protest against Erdoğan’s impingements on everything from freedom of the press to freedom of assembly. But the crackdown was not confined to the political realm.
The chairman of the American Leadership and Policy Foundation, David Stuckenberg, is a military pilot who writes about airspace security. Speaking via Skype, he said the present safety systems are inadequate. “We need to understand that we’ve been lucky and as technology increases and as drones proliferate people will increasingly look at these as weapons of opportunity or technologies that can be adapted for ill intent.”
Historically, military powers have endeavored to exploit the advantages afforded by holding the high ground on the battlefield. Beginning in World War I with the introduction of the airplane and the new perspective it offered, the high ground migrated to the air. By the late 20th century, war fighters had greatly advanced the application of airpower. Today, aided by technology, the high ground has shifted to space.
A large variety of jamming devices – illegal to market and sell in the U.S. – are available on the Internet. Their use could lead to interference with the reception of signals from our Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) satellites (GPS). Through frequency interference and manipulation, criminals, terrorists, and hostile powers can deny or scramble information in a manner that will damage communication, transportation and function of most digital technologies in the private and public sectors.
Since 9/11, the United States government has made extensive investments to safeguard citizens, cherished monuments, critical infrastructure and key government installations. Unfortunately, many safeguards are easily bypassed by overflight. On January 26, 2015, a small drone bypassed the fences and radar protecting the White House and crashed unceremoniously onto the south lawn.
Today, most of federal agencies have fortified, barricaded, and closed off to the public – the public they exist to serve. Have you ever tried walking into the Department of Commerce, the Department of Health and Human Services or some other federal agency? Don’t bother… you’ll hardly get a foot through the door. Why? Because government has forgotten it depends on the people for survival. There was once a time when it meant something to be a “U.S. tax payer.”
[With respect to Ebola] …the CDC has downplayed the gravity of the situation to the public while allowing itself to be complacent. Complacency in disease control is indistinguishable from a contribution to its success. Meanwhile, misleading the public and providing contradictory statements is unethical.