Who or what is the greatest threat to the USA?
Another question from Yahoo Answers that inspires me to write. I love Yahoo Answers. I one needs a photograph identified, a childhood mystery solved, or some song identified from a few half remembered lyrics, it’s wonderful. It’s also a great place to find writing inspiration, I frequently go there, get inspired to write some long answer to a question…and realize it would make a fine blog post! So without further ado, here is today’s question…asked and answered. With a hat tip to Dan H, who asked the question:
Who or what is the greatest threat to the USA?
Without defining this terms better, this is a difficult question to answer. I will look at it from the top down, IE as threats that could do calamitous harm to the USA as a whole. This is why I won’t discuss Bin Laden or other minor extremists as a threat. Sure, maybe Iran, Bin Laden, or Korea or such could nuke a USA city or two. It’s still damn unlikely, and losing a city or two isn’t going to destroy the USA. Earthquakes, tsunamis, or hurricanes could also destroy a city or two. In fact there’s any number of such threats, quantifying which is the most likely is pointless, we can only hope they all receive due diligence from our local/state/federal governments.
In terms of foreign powers, Russia and China are the only two nations that possess the nuclear capability to destroy the USA. (Well, maybe France and the UK, but I think war with either of them is unlikely at the current time.) Since neither is particularly eager to be destroyed itself, it’s not really much of a threat. The USA’s location and vast military arsenal make it pretty much immune to any other foreign power threat.
I suppose I should quickly comment in immigration here too. People have been hysterically claiming that the USA was going to be destroyed from within by foreign immigrants for over 100 years. And so far they haven’t even come close, so I think I can safely say that those who yelling that the USA is being “invaded” by “illegals” are cynically using this issue to promote their own agenda, or are being cynically duped/manipulated by same. By the same token some people are saying “radical Islam” is a terrible threat. Yeah, and so was communism, socialism, and anarchism in their day. Islam and the west haven’t even come close to destroying each other in over ten centuries, and for the most part haven’t even tried. The current troubles are just that, troubles; neither religion is going to destroy the other any time soon.
This leads to “moral decay,” “liberalism,” the “gay agenda,” or any of the other terrible threats shouted from pulpits every Sunday in the USA. Well, you know what, people have been preaching about these and a whole slew of similar threats for a few thousand years, and they haven’t brought down any nations yet. Or very few at least, I can’t think of any off hand. I can think of nations destroyed by people claiming to be protecting people from threats like this, so if there’s any threat here it’s from the pulpit, not his/her bogyman threat fantasies. Still, I don’t think Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson will be bringing down the Republic any day soon.
In a more tangible sense, global climate change/environmental definitely poses a long term concern, but it’s really hard to quantify that in any meaningful manner. So I’ll just say it’s a serious issue, but I’m not sure if it technically can be considered a threat as the word is commonly used. On the other hand, many many civilizations have been destroyed by climate change, so I won’t rule it out either.
A case can be made that poor fiscal policy/corruption/mismanagement is a serious threat. (“Borrow and spend” can’t go on forever.) Both Congress and every president since World War II have sent us down the budget-busting/imperialist road. “Strategic overextension” also falls in this category, IE foreign occupations/wars. Corruption and senseless frontier wars brought down the Roman Empire, so the USA certainly could share the same fate.
There’s also a series of more or less exotic calamities that could destroy the USA, again, quantifying them in any meaningful way is mostly a matter of guesswork.
I think I’ve covered all the bases here. What other threats have I missed? (Britney Spears?) So in summary I would have to say “mismanagement/corruption” is the greatest single threat facing the USA right now, since the collapse of the dollar/economy and the endless wars overseas are very much current issues that could cause disastrous problems for the USA in the near future if not handled correctly. IE mismanagement/corruption is the greatest threat to the USA because it is definitely happening now. Only climate change holds a candle to this, but as much as I believe it is a current threat, honestly it is debatable just how soon and how bad it will be.
As for individuals, none on the horizon really, the USA is way too vast and powerful for any one individual to pose much of a threat. Unless of course one construes “mismanagement/corruption” as being the same as “bad leadership.” In that case the president of the USA could be considered a threat. And no, I’m not talking about Bush. Bush has already done his damage, God willing he’ll be retiring soon to his presidential library and doing book signings.
That leaves McCain, Clinton, and Obama as the three greatest threats facing the USA. I’ll blog about that tomorrow. Sleep tight.
(The above image is claimed as fair Use under USA copyright law. It is not being used for profit. Credit: Welt Online/DPA Foto. It’s some sort of float or display in Germany, other than that, who knows. Maybe some who reads German can go to the link and figure it out. I just thought it was both hysterical and thought provoking, how could I resist?)