Keith Harris – 4/30/10

A bevy of problems threaten our nation: war, debt, civil unrest, illegal immigration, global warming and so many more. Worse still, it seems that little to nothing is being done to remedy these problems. And yet, these problems do not define the tragedy of modern America. The true tragedy is that solutions to all of these problems do exist, but do not receive attention in our increasingly profit-driven society.

Even now the American military conflict is progressively spilling over into Pakistan. American soldiers are expected to defend more than 700 military bases located around the world. Every once in a while, these bases come under attack. he question then becomes: why? Why is America engaged in so much conflict? Those who call themselves patriots will give any number of nonsensical answers to this question: They hate our freedom, they are jealous of us, they are religious zealots, etc. Of course, it is in our interest to believe these justifications. But in order to put an end to the conflicts which plague our country, we must first understand their nature.

Afghanistan is a perfect example of reasons for America’s wars. Prior to the invasion, American leadership assured citizens that Middle Eastern oil would pay for the war. His statement at least clarifies that the wars in the Middle East were at least partially motivated by desire to control oil supplies. This puts leverage into the hands of Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and similar organizations. It is clear from the rhetoric of these groups that American imperialism is a major factor in successful recruitment. The immediate cessation of such practices, therefore, would greatly reduce, if not halt altogether, attacks against America. Those who contest this idea forget that the Soviet Union was victim to frequent attacks during their occupation of Afghanistan. These attacks ceased almost immediately after their withdrawal. In general, there is one rule America must follow if it hopes to be secure. In the words of Noam Chomsky, "Everyone’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s a really easy way: stop participating in it."

On the home front, there is another problem which has received a great deal of attention recently: illegal immigration. Arizona’s new legislation creates problems, not least that racial profiling is now all but inevitable. Again, to put an end to a problem, one must understand its roots. In the case of illegal immigration, the problem stems from widespread poverty in Mexico. The question then becomes: how did this poverty arise? The answer is fairly simple. In 1994, the United States passed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which sparked an indigenous revolution in Mexico and did great damage to the workers of both American and Mexico. Such free trade policies make the exporting of jobs to other nations more profitable to corporations. Thus, American workers lose their jobs. In the case of NAFTA, American companies then began to flood the Mexican market with produce that had previously been grown domestically. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Mexican workers lost their jobs. It’s no surprise that they now seek work on American soil. The solution to the problem is simple: repeal NAFTA and restore the livelihood of American and Mexican workers.

In general, there is one solution which encompasses, in part, all of America’s problems: education. With it, American citizens cannot be duped into beliefs which benefit only those in positions of power. The demonization of Mexicans and Muslims cannot be reconciled with contextual knowledge. Someone who understands reality cannot be made to believe that corporate health care is necessary to democracy, or that big banks are an unavoidable part of capitalism, or that environmental reform is a step toward fascism. Put simply, the means to American salvation is in knowledge, not blind obedience to convenient ideology.