By Colonel (Ret.) StevIMG_0745e Banach

In contrast with contemporary Europe, eighteenth-century America was a magnificent land of equality and opportunity.No titled nobility dominated society from on high and no destitute underclass threatened it from below. Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison provided the early values-based leadership that gave birth to the greatest nation “Under God” in the world.

What has happened to these United States of America over the past 241 years? Is our nation still a land of opportunity for all despite the fact that we have amassed nearly 19 trillion dollars in national debt for our children and grandchildren to inherit?

Just how dangerous is the “New American Aristocracy” that has emerged since World War II? It has produced a military-industrial complex, socialized medicine, a socialized banking industry, and a political archetype in Washington D.C. that is corrupt and incapable of values-based governance for our republic.

What’s more, unprecedented divisions along economic, political, and cultural lines challenge the very concept of a “United States” of America today. We cannot seem to come together for a host of divisive reasons.

We stand astride yet another election and fault-line in American history with both the Democratic and Republican primaries in full swing. As one considers the candidates who are running for the highest office in our land—and indeed, the most important office in the world—we have to ask these questions:

  • Which one of these candidates could have led our beleaguered Continental Army through Valley Forge from 1777-1778 and on to the publication of the U.S. Constitution in 1789?
  • Which one of the candidates running for President of the United States of America today could provide the leadership that was required during the Civil War?
  • Are any of the candidates who are running for president, from either party, capable of making the correct strategic decisions relative to national security so that we do not repeat the errors of President Bush 43 and President Obama?
  • Which one of these candidates possesses the leadership attributes of Roosevelt, Kennedy, or Reagan, who led from the front in terms of foreign policy?
  • The top priority for our President is to protect our country. Which candidate is most prepared to do this?

I saw U.S. Army Rangers killed under my command in 2003 in Al Anbar province in Iraq only to see our government snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in 2011 by failing to sign a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the Iraqi government for purely political reasons which were tied to the 2012 presidential election.   This is an unspeakable tragedy for all of us who served and for the families of the U.S. Army Rangers who died needlessly in Iraq.

The Iraq SOFA would have preserved the peace and prevented the rise of the Islamic State and the hegemonic advancement of Iran and the reemergence of Russia in the Middle East. Any President or political advisor could look to history as their guide in Germany, Japan, and Korea in terms of how to preserve a hard-fought military victory. The strident decision making and resultant failures under the current administration and President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in the first place, are absolutely unconscionable and, taken together, are the biggest presidential leadership failures in the history of our country.

In such times, where are the great leaders in our country today when we need them? The contemporary political leaders from both parties have failed our country at home and abroad.

Indeed, the disruptive partisanship of our times has risen to new and unproductive heights. It has to stop if we are to have any chance of being the country envisioned by our Founding Fathers.

This polarization continues to dominate our politics and discourse. Gridlock defines Washington, and little gets done. So what are we, the people to do? After all, this is our country!

Here is part of a peaceful solution to this problematic situation. On January 17, 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower gave the nation a dire warning about what he described as a threat to democratic government. He called it the military-industrial complex, a formidable union of defense contractors and the armed forces. Here are his words:

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.” 

Our 34th President’s prophetic declaration has come true. The military-industrial complex is one of the main drivers of corruption and division by way of congressional lobbyists who directly threaten our republic by buying influence. The military-industrial complex, Wall Street, and medical insurance companies hold the majority of the power in our country today. They form the foundation of the “New American Aristocracy” that must be deconstructed by “We the People” through our votes. 

We are losing our country! America is in the middle of a revolution that is fundamentally changing the identity of the republic. Part of the solution is the implementation of term limits. This is the only way to break the bonds between lifetime politicians and the lifetime lobbyists who are lining the pockets of our senators and representatives for their respective votes.

Presidential terms should be limited to one six-year opportunity to lead our country. Senators should be allowed to serve for only one eight-year term in office. Members of the House of Representatives should only serve one four-year term and then leave office.

The elected officials of the United States government spend far too much time in election cycles and far too little time doing the work of the people in Washington. It is time for the U.S. governmental “establishment” of both parties to be deconstructed. One President, 535 Members of Congress, and a few thousand empowered individuals are destroying the very foundation of our country.

I served the United States of America for over 27 years in the U.S. Army and find it interesting that some of the greatest threats to our sovereignty come from within and not from abroad. It is time to mobilize, America!