Bill Whittle has an essay up called "Power", and in it he praises America and challenges our country to face up to our historical mistakes.
I never ceased to be amazed at the United States of America. My love for this country is so deep and so wide that I am often accused of being blinded to her many faults. And, to be fair, I can see how it would appear so.America has certainly made many mistakes, but I think our greatest short-coming is that we constantly underestimate ourselves. It's somewhat excusable, since the rest of the world underestimates us too, but you'd think we'd have learned by now.
But that is not the case at all. My enormous love and respect for this nation does not come from a belief that she is perfect, unblemished and incapable of error. Precisely the opposite. I love her because she remains an example of what we can aspire to, down here among the Damned Human Race. I love her because she tries to be good; she wants to be. And I love America because I see that America learns from her many mistakes.
There are many examples of this failure of vision -- from our reluctance to engage al Qaeda in the 1990s, to our fear of truly free trade -- but the most glaring was our overly drawn-out conflict with the USSR during the Cold War. I'm no historian, but I play one on TV, and from what I've read there was really no possibility of us losing militarily to the Soviets after the time of the Vietnam War. The Soviet nuclear program was a charade, with incredibly few working missiles and warheads; the condition of the Soviet ground forces was pathetic compared to the US Army, particularly once we switched to an all-volunteer force.
Not only could we overpower the USSR militarily, but we had momentum on our side thanks to our superior economic system. The planned economy of the Soviets simply could not compete with American capitalism; as a result, we also left them in the dust technologically.
Much of this was known or guessed by our leaders, but not until Reagan demanded "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" did anyone have the balls to call the Soviets' bluff. Once Reagan pushed the arms race into overdrive and all the cards were on the table, the USSR quickly folded and crumbled into dust. From outside, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics looked like a mighty fortress, but the innards were really nothing more than a bunch of termites holding hands.
We spent decades coddling horrendous dictators and indirectly oppressing millions of innocents; this was the price for of miscalculation. In the end, all it took for us to win was a little daring, a little confidence, and a challenge to the world to put up, or shut up.
The current War on Terror is a similar beast. Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein and Iraq -- our enemies are all weak, sniveling failures, who hope to bluff and bluster their way into dominance over a world they did not create, and in which they do not belong. America sucked it up for a while out of fear and cowardice, but now that we've thrown off our self-imposed shackles and come into the light, the cockroaches are fleeing into the shadows.