By Michael Troy
As we traverse through yet another year on this Earth, many in the media would have us believe that the world is on the precipice of destruction. Nuclear war, climate change, and the rising power of rival nations China and Russia are some of these threats. According to this narrative, America is beleaguered on all fronts: teetering ever closer to the edge. I would like to refute this doom and gloom mentality, and point out to everybody that it would be foolish to write off America.
First, let it be established that while America has been threatened before, the issues we face today pale in comparison. There have been precisely three times when our nation was existentially threatened: the Civil War, the regimes of the Axis Powers in WWII, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. These three events each had the potential to destroy us. Whereas the aforementioned problems we face today, even combined, can do no more than temporarily weaken our nation.
Nuclear war, especially from the bellicose North Koreans, certainly seems imminent. Video footage in North Korea shows only marching soldiers and missiles. Major news outlets speak fearfully of the nation causing many to believe that the North Koreans are on par with the United States. This is not the case. North Korean military power, while impressive on paper, falters in practical application. Most of the population, including its soldiers, are malnourished. Their nuclear capabilities can cripple, but not destroy the United States. Whereas our nuclear arsenal can destroy the North Korean state. This fundamental power imbalance protects us. Even if North Korea developed the ability to reliably strike the mainland, our surefire ability to counterattack and destroy them would deter them from ever launching a war.
Climate change is certainly an existential threat to humanity, there is no denying that. Many viewed Trump’s actions of pulling the United States out the Paris Accords as the nail in the coffin for humanity. However, the burden of restoring the Earth, has instead fallen to corporations and the private sector. In many ways, this is advantageous. Governments have more red tape and bureaucracy built into them. Nobody has ever pointed to a government as a model of efficiency. Furthermore, the very sovereignty of governments limits them on this particular issue. Corporations transcend borders. Regardless of where one lives, you can buy a Tesla to reduce your carbon footprint. The United States cannot go into China and impose on their populations. Many argue that a strong central government is the only way combat climate change. While central government certainly has a role to play in the issue, they are the be all end all solution to this problem. Consumers are probably the most powerful group on the planet. Because we are all consumers. We have the power to insist that companies take an active role in saving our planet. Through environmentally-friendly products, and promises by companies to produce those products in the safest way possible. We can improve our planet’s health together.
According to US Defense Secretary James Mattis, competition between great powers, and not terrorism, is the new focus of national security threats. Many view China and Russia set to eclipse American power any day now. However this is not the case. The reality of the situation is that Russia and China are experiencing a temporary upswing while America is experiencing a temporary downswing. However longterm, both nations are going to suffer much more than America will. China’s one-child policy has doomed the nation. The culture prefers males to females leaving a massive gender disparity. Does anybody really believe that a large population of single, young, and sexually frustrated men lying around could possibly be good for anyone? Russia is in the same place. The collapse of the Soviet Union, led to the creation of fifteen new countries including modern day Russia. This massive population loss was the spark that is fueling a long slow decline of the Russian state. The Russians recent actions speak to this. Russian annexation of Crimea, further meddling in Ukraine, and attempting to sway our elections, are not signs of strength but of desperation. There are a litany of other problems plaguing these nations as well. But the if one ever wants to really gauge the health of a country, simply look to their populations. As these are reflections of the nations themselves.
Ultimately America is not a bad off as many people think. Certainly there are pressing issues to face, and obstacles to overcome. Sometimes it can be easy believe that everything we face is too much to over come. But as a (hopefully bright) young college student, when I look out into the future, I see nothing but hope on the horizon for our great nation.