I was honored to serve in Congress for 16 years. During that time I provided information and helped to create debates over U.S. policies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and other nations, defending the Article I, Section 8 responsibilities of Congress on matters of war and peace. Those of you who know me are aware that I avoid partisanship. I have challenged Republican and Democratic administrations alike.
Congress rightfully lacks confidence in this administration, given its bungling of a war against Libya and its general mishandling of international policy.
Why would Congress, as a co-equal branch of government, be so ready to give up its constitutional power to this president with an Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF), which represents a wholesale appropriation of war power?
Russians view the United States much more unfavorably today than they did during the end of the Cold War era. As you will read about below, an astounding 81 percent of all Russians now view the United States negatively, and only 13 percent have a positive opinion of this country. In all of the years when Russians have been surveyed on their attitudes toward the U.S., they havenever been this negative. But of course Americans generally do not view the Russian people unfavorably. So why is this happening? Well, it all comes down to the actions of the Obama administration. The Russian people are convinced that U.S. organizations organized, funded and armed the rebels that violently overthrew the democratically-elected Ukrainian government. And once it was overthrown, the Obama administration immediately recognized the rebels as the legitimate government of Ukraine. And now most Russians are convinced that the U.S. government is trying to promote a similar revolution inside Russia. In recent years, the Russian people have become increasingly nationalistic, and at this point they view U.S. meddling in their affairs as a direct threat to their way of life. Even while most Americans are extremely apathetic about what is going on over in Russia, an increasingly large chunk of the Russian population is angry enough to go to war.
Anti-American sentiment inside Russia has grown so strong that even the mainstream media is starting to report on it. For example, the following quote comes from a recent article in the Washington Post…
Thought the Soviet Union was anti-American? Try today’s Russia.
After a year in which furious rhetoric has been pumped across Russian airwaves, anger toward the United States is at its worst since opinion polls began tracking it. From ordinary street vendors all the way up to the Kremlin, a wave of anti-U.S. bile has swept the country, surpassing any time since the Stalin era, observers say.
It has been more than 13 years since 9/11, and some things that have become routine weren’t so in those blissfully ignorant days before that trauma, when the biggest news stories focused more on cheating politicians and shark attacks. With yet another fear-mongering alert that Al-Shabaab (the latest variation on a theme) is somehow targeting every mall in the entire North American continent, our media and other public institutions have kept the war on terror going. Fueled by a changing, Internet-driven culture and shifting profits, the media and political pundits are going for the quick sell; clickbait for people stuck in a post-recession reverie. But they wouldn’t be feeding us if we weren’t biting. Why are we such easy prey for this kind of ongoing hysteria? What is it about constant premonitions of doom that continue to thrill and excite us as mass media consumers in America?
Post-traumatic stress disorder manifests in some individuals who experience a life-threatening trauma, but it can also show similar signs in a larger culture that has undergone mass trauma as well, such as war or genocide. One might argue that 9/11, despite relatively few casualties compared with major wars, was still a major psychological trauma for America, which had never experienced a civilian domestic attack by an outside threat in its history. And the attack was definitely dramatic in its symbolism: The tallest buildings in Manhattan destroyed, key government buildings in our nation’s capital hit or nearly hit, comfortable office workers on a routine day brutally killed. The everyday, safe banality of American life seemed to be over.
Even if most people did not develop severe clinical PTSD like the first responders or the people truly exposed to danger at the scene, our country underwent a psychological reckoning afterward, one we perhaps still haven’t fully processed in a healthy, self-aware fashion. Complicating matters has been the concomitant rise of social media culture and technology in the last decade, leading to an interesting mélange of influences and coping mechanisms.
Some of the symptoms of clinical PTSD include re-experiencing and flashbacks that alternate with emotional numbness and dissociation. Persons afflicted with PTSD can be stuck in a vicious cycle of continued panic attacks and hypervigilance, where they perceive a threat in every corner – their “fight or flight” responses are on standby at all times. They interpret danger on a hair trigger. Sometimes they cope by actively planning ways to avoid and/or prevent anything that reminds them of the trauma. For example, some soldiers with PTSD avoid crowded malls because it sets them on edge. They dislike driving because any discarded item on the side of the road reminds them of a roadside bomb.