What Our Mis-educated Younger Generation Misses

Recently, Britain’s The Economist magazine began a piece with “One of the perks of getting old is that you are allowed to talk nonsense about the young.” 

Since I am old, I shall claim my perk.

What bothers me the most is that most young Americans do not share President Abraham Lincoln’s belief, expressed in an 1862 message to Congress, that America is “the last best hope of earth.” In fairness, given the sorry state of history instruction in this country, manny of them probably never heard of Lincoln’s phrase.

My other impressions have to do with:

(1) the failure of young Americans to live by basic economic principles,

(2) their apparent unconcern about our open southern borders,

(3) the unanticipated consequences of an all-volunteer military,

(4) their general silence about rogue states and terrorist entities,

(5) their belief that the Roman proverb “He who wishes peace should prepare for war” is bad advice,

(6) their embrace of the notion that the United States is history’s most imperialistic country, and

(7) their addiction to diversity and rejection of the melting pot.

America is not the world’s worst imperialist.  After World War Two, when it was briefly the world’s only nuclear power, it absorbed no one’s territory. And on July 4, 1946, it granted full independence to the Philippines. 

I am troubled that the young do not relate to military service. After Vietnam, the country decided to do away with the “undemocratic” draft. That was a huge mistake because in a democracy all classes and regions should share the responsibility of fighting and dying for the country. 

If we returned to a compulsory draft, our wars would personally impact everyone, including the President and his children, members of the House and Senate and their children, and the nation’s other elites and their children. 

But no matter which segments of society we send to war, we rarely follow Napoleon’s admonition: “If you start to take Vienna, take Vienna.” Instead, we are fed phrases like “leading from behind.” Nor do we ever hear General George Patton’s line, “Americans play to win all the time.” Our leaders rarely utter the word victory or cite Winston Churchill’s wonderful words about it: “Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.” President Ronald Reagan made the point another way: “Here’s my strategy during the Cold War: We win, they lose.” Instead, our young increasingly believe that waging war with overwhelming, winning force — the politically correct term is disproportionate force — is immoral.

The facts are that the United States beat the Mexicans in 1848 and the Spaniards in 1898 with disproportionate force. The Allies liberated North Africa, Italy, France, the Low Countries, and Germany in the 1940s with disproportionate force. The Soviets expelled the Germans from Russia in 1945 with disproportionate force. The Americans overwhelmed the Japanese in 1945 with disproportionate force. I know of no country that has defeated an enemy with underwhelming force. 

As for the young’s unreality of economics, the generations born after me don’t seem to be worried about the crisis awaiting them if they continue to ignore economic truths. A high-school version of Economics 101 might help, but can we find enough teachers to teach the course properly, since most of them ignore the underfunded public pension schemes in their cities and states?

As for our borders, the Center for Immigration Studies and the Pew Research Center have calculated that “2.5 million foreigners have illegally come to the United States” under President Barack Obama’s watch, “with 790,000 rushing in since 2013.” Since illegal immigration was higher under President George W. Bush, one has to assume that young Americans in both parties aren’t upset about the situation on our borders.

Richard N. Haas has observed that “the world is not self-organizing; no invisible hand creates order in the geopolitical marketplace. It takes the guiding hand of the US to galvanize world action.” His observation was true when President Theodore Roosevelt brokered the peace treaty that ended the 1904 Russo-Japanese War. It was true during the two world wars. It was true 25 years ago when the Americans created and led the coalition that forced Iraq’s Saddam Hussein to withdraw his troops from Kuwait. And it is true today. 

There are about 200 sovereign states in the world. None of them has the will and wherewithal to do what America does, and does so well, for instance our ability to project military power to any part of the planet quickly and effectively.

So I offer this advice to our younger people. “Despite what your left-wing professors may say, absorb into your perception of the world Lincoln’s observation that America is still “the last best hope of earth.”

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