By Jack Stevenson. May 31, 2019. PENSACOLA, FL — Historically, the United States set the pace in many ways, and other countries followed. Generally, we believe that leadership is good, but sometimes it is questionable.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jack Stevenson is retired. He served two years in Vietnam as an infantry officer, retired from military service, and worked three years as a U.S. Civil Service employee. He also worked in Egypt as an employee of the former Radio Corporation of America (RCA). Currently, he reads history, follows issues important to Americans, and occasionally writes non-exclusive commentary for Blowing Rock News
Early Americans told themselves that it was their “manifest destiny” to occupy and develop the land we call the United States.
- They certainly did accomplish that goal pushing aside some Native Americans and some Mexicans in the 1848 Mexican-American War.
- We adopted the Monroe Doctrine that warned Europeans that their ambitions would not be tolerated in North or South America.
- We acquired a presence in Cuba and the Philippines in 1898 at the expense of the Spanish.
- Former U.S. President “Teddy” Roosevelt engineered the country of Panama at Columbian expense to facilitate building the Panama Canal.
- “Teddy” also sent the “Great White Fleet” sailing around the world on a “goodwill” tour. But the tour also announced that America had arrived as a world power.
- We eventually acquired “forward” military bases in Guam, the Philippines, and so many other places, it is difficult to count all of them.
After suffering a century of humiliation imposed by Western powers, they don’t intend to let it happen again. They are (just) following the American example.
China has been reading American history. They recognize that Americans avoided major wars while building their economic strength. The Chinese believe that they suffered a century of humiliation imposed by Western powers. They don’t intend to let it happen again. They are following the American example. They are establishing “forward” military bases in the South China Sea. They are vigorously pursuing economic expansion across a wide expanse of the planet. Meanwhile, they are avoiding major war because war would drain their treasury. Their goal is to duplicate the American empire building process.
In the technical field, American leadership gave us nuclear weapons. That genie escaped the bottle almost immediately, and nuclear weapons remain a threat to the United States.
America set the pace in the use of computer science. Shrewd engineers slipped a program into Iran’s nuclear centrifuges that caused them to severely malfunction. Nicholas Kristof wrote in the April 3, 2019, NY Times that “American companies sold telecommunications equipment to China beginning in the 1980s that let us intercept officials’ conversations there, and we have inserted cyber ‘back doors’ into goods and software sold to China so that we can cause damage in the event of a conflict. China purchased a Boeing 767 in 2000 to be its presidential jet and it arrived riddled with listening devices. China inevitably will try to do to us what we already did to it.”
Their goal is to duplicate the American empire-building process.
The U.S. Defense Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA) pioneered the development of electronic communications. Now that technology is both useful and subject to misuse that poses a continuing threat to commercial companies, governments, and the military.
Russia briefly led the space race by placing a satellite in orbit and then orbiting an astronaut. But the U.S. soon surged ahead. Currently, there are 2062 satellites in orbit, and 901 of them are American. Most of the satellites provide useful service, but some apparently have a capability to disrupt communications or destroy other satellites. Technology spreads rapidly. The lead in any technical field is maintained only briefly.
Modern controlled drones have been under development by the U.S. military for a long time, and they proved versatile and successful for operations in the Middle East. But the technology has also become available to small belligerent groups that conduct hostile operations against their enemies.
There seems to be a Frankenstein element in creative leadership.