Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 10, 2013

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”
— George Santayana

History teaches us many things. One thing it teaches is that dictators see the world through a different set of glasses than democracies do. Democracies see conflicts being resolved through negotiation and compromise. Dictators see force as the solution. For examples I offer Adolph Hitler, Josef Stalin, Mao Zedong, Saddam Hussein and, most recently, Bashar al-Assad. All of them relied on their willingness to use force to get what they wanted. All of them saw efforts by others to negotiate as a sign of weakness they could exploit.
In one sense they were all merely international gangsters — not much different from the thug who goes into the convenience store with a gun, demanding money, relying on force to get his way. He sees his world through a different set of glasses than we do, and only the prospect of meeting an equal or greater force will deter him. That’s the police.
People ask why America is expected to be the world’s policeman. Two reasons: first, because we have the ability to react to international thugs; and second, because international thugs cause international conflicts which we inevitably get drawn into. In the last half of the 20th century, our agreement to defend Western Europe stopped the thugs of the Soviet Union from acting. Our similar commitment in Asia deterred China. Now we see Assad testing the world with poison gas, against his own people.
If Assad gets away with this what does it say to other tyrants in the Middle East? What if Iran closes the Straits of Hormuz, shutting down the world’s oil supply? Or completes nuclear weapons? Or Assad chooses to solve the Israeli problem with gas attacks on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem? We may believe America would react with force, but do the dictators in Syria and Iran believe we would? There are many other scenarios, none of which end well if America lacks the will to respond until too late.
Like it or not, America is the world’s policeman. I only hope we have the courage to act like one.
— Jack Burke


There is so much needless confusion in the public about the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.”
The program is only for those who do not have other health insurance. It will have very little effect on Medicare, and those effects are beneficial. It will have no effect on Social Security.
Your readers can find more information at the following phone numbers or websites: 1-800-318-2596 or, and also at 1-800-633-4227 or
— Susan Davis

Susan Davis oversees the Information & Assistance Program at Rufty-Holmes Senior Center.