Soldiers climbing the Ziggurat of Ur in Dhi Qui, Iraq

As a student of International Relations and History, I came to the conclusion many decades ago that there are no “Bad” countries, just countries with “Bad” leaders. What I mean by that is that is that people around the world are generally good natured. Sometimes you have to get to know them to realize it, but there really are no bad ethnicities. 

Now governments and military leaders the world over will propagandize painting their opposition as evil by their nature. Sometimes that is a necessary tool to raise popular support for a war or to motivate troops. It is a tool and not reality. This is not to say that there have not been some horribly brutal military formations in the past, but they usually don’t represent the entire society from which they hail. 

Most of us have all heard of the unofficial Christmas truce of World War One. During that event the troops on both sides stopped shooting, sang Christmas carols, and came out of their trenches to share food and drink. To military leaders this is a very dangerous scenario. If these soldiers talk to each other they will realize how much they have in common. If they commiserate about bad food, low pay, their dislike of their leaders, etc.; or if they share stories of hunting and fishing back at home, they may lose the will to kill each other. 

So back to my premise that good or bad societies, successful or unsuccessful nations it hinges on the leaders. I had the privilege to see the Ziggurat of Ur in what was ancient Babylon, and is now Iraq. This structure was built around four thousand years ago. A few years ago, under Saddam Hussein, Iraq had to hire a German firm to build the airport in Basra. How is it that all these centuries later the descendants of the people that built the Ziggurat have trouble with in-door plumbing? Bad leadership!

Additionally, thanks to the U.S. Army, a couple years back I had the opportunity to spend time in Egypt.  Their again, all of the self-proclaimed “Egyptologists” tell you proudly over and over, all about the great things that the Egyptians did a couple thousand years ago. 

But as I looked around I would actually hear people mutter “But what have you done lately?”  Cairo is a mess! The only completed buildings are Mosques, International Hotels, or Government buildings. Every single other building has re-bar sticking out of the roof. You see, in Egypt you don’t have to pay taxes on the building until the construction is complete, therefore NOTHING is ever finished. 

Why is this once great and powerful nation such a mess? Let’s say it altogether “Bad leadership!”

There are many other examples, but here is my point. We ARE a great nation, with great people who have a strong work ethic. We are very different from all of the other great nations that have come and gone because we are a democracy and therefore are not stuck with leaders for life. We are the greatest nation that has ever existed and I, for one, don’t believe that we are done. We liberated most of the planet during World War II and kept nothing. We are the only country that has ever put a man on the moon, and we did forty-two years ago. There is a reason why most of the commercial aircraft in world were built here. 

If we remember how good we are, we will know how great we can still become. To our leaders I say “We are not finished yet!  Lead or get out of the way.” We will never let the SuperDome become just a tourist attraction like the Roman Coliseum!