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The EDUCATION and the 2020 elections: the missing links.

The bipartisan recognition that it was a lack of education in U.S. schools and institutions of higher learning was a serious nation security threat. 

Can we put Education at the top of the agenda as we head into another Election season?

We know education is vital to understanding the likely inevitability of our species of either threat, but appropriate and sufficient preventive action must follow.  And education for action should be the top topic in the 2020 elections.

Every democratic presidential candidate is missing a vital fact capable of motivating any voter to lean in their direction. It’s the link between the education and our national security.

By Chuck Woolery, Rockville, Md.

National security can be viewed in many non-military-centric ways, but most voters value the levels of defense dollars, investments in new weapons systems, the protection of U.S. troops, and those who have served and suffered the most.  While rational minds can question if these investments actually improve U.S. security, no well-informed mind can say with certainty that our nation is safer today than after 9-11.  Or, that we can actually spend enough to ensure our security as the evolution of war and weapons evolve beyond any existing controls.

Before the 2000 presidential election,  President Clinton foresaw that the acceleration of technology was having multiple unpredictable consequences in all aspects of our lives — especially in our nation’s security.  This wisdom led to his creation of a bipartisan “Presidential Commission on National Security in the 21st Century”.

Its final report (third over two years) released March 2001, just months after Bush defeated Gore and nine months before Sept. 11, 2001, we were warned to prepare for a catastrophic attack.  A history chancing attack came just six months later.  (Please note: the reports are found embedded at the bottom of this post.)

And it, in hindsight, resulted in the most flawed US foreign policy decision only two years later – the invasion, occupation and destabilization of Iraq with national security implications still accelerating today.

In truth, neither political party really abides by expert findings in most prestigious reports.  Such reports are called “dust collectors” inside the beltway if they are not shredded.  Read any Presidential Commission, National Academy of Sciences report, or think tank policy paper — on any issue over the last four  decades if you doubt this.

In truth both ‘we the people’ and the government are responsible.  We have always known what to do.  We just don’t do it.   Who among us doesn’t know the value of the Golden Rule?

From the pulpit of Detroit’s Second Baptist Church on Feb. 28, 1954 Martin Luther King Jr. never once mentioned racism.  Instead he talked about lost values and our need to recover them.He said then that the problem we face is not that “we aren’t good enough.” It’s just that our scientific genius has outpaced ‘our moral genius”.  He noted that the greater danger facing us then, wasn’t “the atomic bomb that was created by physical science” intended to kill millions, but “that atomic bomb which lies in the hearts and souls of men, capable of exploding into the vilest of hate and into the most damaging selfishness”.

We could still destroy ourselves in a nuclear war, but our selfishness is damaging the most important thing on God’s earth, our environmental life support system as a result of our worshiped economic system devoid of any value except profit.

We know education is vital to understanding the likely inevitability of our species of either threat, but appropriate and sufficient preventive action must follow.  And education for action should be the top topic in the 2020 elections.

The fundamental value of education in clear to all Americans. Especially those who home school their children. It’s safe to assume the motive of any true educator is honest and honorable. Even if all they teach from the Bible, Torah, or the Quran. But we/they must also learn that technology will continue to have an unpredictable outcome when the hearts and minds of anyone is contaminated by real or perceived injustices.  And profoundly, controlling how technology is used will be impossible without learning and acting on the fundamental principle that our cherished freedoms and security can never be sustained unless responsibility and accountable are codified into all of our policies and actions.

And ignoring the findings and recommendations of the seven Democrats and seven Republicans in Clinton’s unanimous bi-partisan Commission was enormously irresponsible.  In a press conference on the public release of the final report (March 2001) policy makers were clearly warned that Americans should prepare to die in large numbers on American soil from terrorism — the greatest national security threat according to the report.

But the second greatest threat was stunning.

The bipartisan recognition that it was a lack of education in US schools and institutions of higher learning was a serious nation security threat.

Republican Congressman Newt Gingrich, who a decade earlier had proposed the elimination of the US Department of Education, publicly apologized for this foolish ‘Contract for America’ priority he created.  After the apology he admitted, not only should we be “paying teachers more”, but we should also be “paying students to learn”!  


Because there was irrefutable evidence that we didn’t have the number of students coming out of our educational institutions that had the engineering, science, math, and language skills our nation needed to maintain, fund, evolve and manage our traditional national security defense systems. We still don’t.

According to the most recent the US National Science Board “The State of U.S. Science and Engineering 2020 report “U.S. national assessments of mathematics show little to no growth in scores over the past decade. At the same time, for higher education, the United States remains the destination for the largest number of internationally mobile students. Foreign-born non-citizens make up a considerable proportion of Science and Engineering doctorate recipients, including half or more of the doctorate recipients in engineering, mathematics and computer sciences, and economics. Many of these students stay in the United States after graduation. As such, foreign-born individuals account for a sizeable share of U.S. S&E employment, particularly among workers with graduate degrees.

The Superintend of Schools of Montgomery County Maryland gave a talk to county parents in the 1990’s that is even more relevant today. He said ‘when my father applied for a job, he competed with everyone in his community for it.  When I applied for a job, I competed with everyone in the US.  When your children applies for a job, they will be competing with everyone in the world.’    Today’s youth have it harder.  They will be competing with everyone and every robot in the world, not to mention every algorithm and Artificial intelligence — if the world’s debt burdened economy hasn’t collapsed before then.

Our cherished freedoms, security, and prosperity depend not just on the education of our youth, but the education of our nation’s policy makers and their courage to look beyond party purity and the next election.  Somehow we must get them to understand that everything vital to these cherished factors is dependent upon irreversibly globalized economic, communication, information, dual use technology, and environmental forces.  And without US policies being responsible and accountable with these irreversible interconnections and our local/global interdependence on them, our freedom, security and prosperity will NOT be sustainable.

Our reactionary form of government will continue to be dysfunctional and debt burdened. Without a more responsible domestic and foreign policies in every arena…not just education…things will not end well.  What sustainability requires for any system and structure is fact-based policies based on fundamental principles.  Not the political party principles that both political parties persistently ignore.

Our best chance of maximizing our nation’s security is with policies that are just and based on the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.”   Our best chance of maintaining our freedoms is with responsible policies based on the “Laws” of “Nature’s God”.  That would be “Liberty and Justice for all” for those who confuse their view of God as being separate from the “Golden Rule”.

Only a fool would expect all the world’s nations to make such a fundamental shift in thinking and action, and put the protection of human rights above the protection of their national sovereignty and ‘national interests’.  But only a fool would expect to keep their nation secure, prosperous and sustainable without somehow raising the protection of inalienable human rights above the protection of their own government.

Fortunately, there is a comprehensive approach available that is capable of preventing much of injustices driving the accelerating global chaos – government and corporate abuse of money, technology and political power.  This one option has been approved by most of the world’s people who know of it.  The 17 Sustainable Development Goals approved in 2015 for the year 2030.  You may not have heard of them. Our governments, foreign policy institutions and even many public non-profit organizations have failed in educating the public regarding their functional value in preventing more crisis. And new taxes are not needed. The money exists that should have gone to basic human needs and services for decades.  But nations have continued to protect the free flow of currency to offshore accounts as well as protecting the privacy of those who moved it there.  The enormous wealth of kleptocrats, oligarchs, drug cartels, real estate moguls, wealthy capitalists avoiding taxes, and even violent extremist groups funded by wealth attached to oil profits, put their money (approximately $32 trillion according to 2014 stats) where government controls refuse to go.

Another bipartisan Presidential Commission summarized 40 years ago warned that unless we put “ending world hunger” by the year 2000 ‘in the context of national security’ it probably wouldn’t happen.  And, if we failed, what we would see after that is more wars, terrorism, pandemics, environment degradation, refugees, and genocides.  We obviously didn’t listen. And they were right.

It’s hard to imagine what the world will be like in 2030 given the growing list of unsustainable national and global trends now before us.  But without sufficient and urgent investments in their prevention its rational to say that catastrophic outcomes will occur.  From debt, to global warming, to the evolution of weaponry, war and WMD proliferation, and the continued emergence of nature’s biosecurity threats — none can be prevented independently of the rest. MLK would say “no justice, no peace’.  If he were alive today he might say, “Liberty and justice for all- or freedom, security and prosperity for none.”

Phase I report – New World Coming: American Security in the 21st Century

New World Coming: American Security in the 21st Century was the first report completed by the Commission. Released on 15 September 1999, it attempts to provide a picture of the international security environment within the first quarter of the 21st century and the anticipated role of the US in that environment. The Commission anticipates an increasingly technologically, economically, and socially integrated world, i.e. increasing globalization amidst social and political fragmentation.The report provides twelve basic assumptions of that environment and fourteen conclusions based on those assumptions.

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Phase II report – Seeking a National Strategy: A Concert for Preserving Security and Promoting Freedom
Released on 15 April 2000, Seeking a National Strategy: A Concert for Preserving Security and Promoting Freedom proposes a new national security strategy based on the anticipated 21st century international security environment. The new strategy must consider how to minimize the potential destabilizing effects of the contradictory trends of globalization and political fragmentation while promoting US interests and values worldwide.

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Phase III report – Roadmap for National Security: Imperative for Change
Released on 31 January 2001, Roadmap for National Security: Imperative for Change suggests “significant changes must be made in the structures and processes of the US national security apparatus”[15]. The Commission believes that without these reforms, “American power and influence cannot be sustained”[16]. Five key areas are highlighted for reform, followed by the Commissions specific recommendations for each area.

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About the Author: Chuck Wooley (not the Game show host)

Chuck’s professional grassroots organizing and advocacy successes on global health issues led to his elected position on the respected Action Board of the American Public Health Association (membership of 120,000 US Health Professionals). Later he was then elected by his peers to Chair the United Nation’s Association Council of Organizations (over 110 US based NGOs representing a collective membership of over 25 million Americans). His focus has been connecting local and global issues to US national security interests and using non-partisan fundamental principles to advance public thinking and US policy on vital systems and structures essential to forming a more perfect union and sustainable environment.

Chuck credits much of his successes to his mother’s love, father’s violence, the study of Biology and wrestling (having qualified for the 1972 Olympic Trials only to find out he was seriously not qualified – but was honored to make it that far after a childhood of obesity and sloth.) “We are all”, he says “always wrestling with issues and concerns our entire life. Or we should be — given the persistent changes in our bodies and the world.” “Loving persistence” and “ruthless compassion” are two qualities his mentors offered him. Admittedly to his detriment he usually offers people what they need to know instead of what they want to hear. Chuck is an avid quote collector… one of his many favorites — “Science is my passion, politics my duty.” Thomas Jefferson



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