The Struggle for the Soul of America: Where Will America’s Current State of Crisis Lead?

America is in crisis. From the ban on mandatory COVID masks and the ugly withdrawal from Afghanistan to the Supreme Court’s anti-abortion ruling and the attacks on our voting rights, the United States is anything but united. In fact, we are at a dangerous inflection point.

On the one hand, the country is confronted by a rising tide of fascism. Mark Green, the first public advocate for New York City and author (with Ralph Nader) of Wrecking America: How Trump’s Lawbreaking and Lies Betray All, recently wrote in the Washington Spectator, “If openly cheating to install permanent minority rule doesn’t spell out “fascism,” it’s hard to see what would.” Green explains:

Trump “closely followed the playbooks of Mussolini, Salazar, Putin, and Bolsonaro: propaganda packaged as reality, extreme nationalism, delegitimization of the media, erosion of public confidence in elections, glorification of the military, self-enrichment and nepotism, relentless lying and systematic corruption, incitement to violence, Nuremberg-like rallies, a creed-of-greed over the common good, admiration of fellow dictators, scapegoating immigrants, vilification of “the other,” and the provoking of constant crises that “I alone can fix.”[1]

While Trump lost the 2020 election, he and his extremist minions are not going away. The Center for the Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR) addresses the magnitude of the threat Trumpism poses:

“Even if Donald Trump disappears from the stage forever, this isn’t over. More than a hundred congressional leaders have contested a fair and democratic election with falsehoods and conspiracy theories…Fascism and conspiratorial thinking have seeped into the minds of millions of Americans. If we compare Mussolini’s March on Rome and Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch to Donald Trump’s Insurrection we should be reminded that the former examples were only the beginning of years of street violence. We can’t address this problem until we call it by its name: fascism.”[2]

On the other hand, President Biden and most Democrats are proposing a progressive agenda that would significantly improve the lives of most Americans. Their $3.5 trillion social infrastructure budget and the For the People Act mandating election reforms would create a more egalitarian America.[3]

While many Democrats are aware of the ominous threat presented by the radical right, they are not directly combatting it. Plus, Congressional Democrats can’t seem to come together to enact the policies and programs noted above that could effectively thwart the march to an authoritarian state.

As Green and CARR emphasize, we must acknowledge that what occurred in Germany and Italy in the 1930s is happening in our country today. Then, hopefully, we will be able to marshal the will and the resources to defeat American fascism before it is too late.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://washingtonspectator.org/none-dare-call-it-fascism-why-not/

[2] https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/countering-radical-right/american-fascism/

[3] https://www.reuters.com/world/us/after-setback-us-house-democrats-near-deal-biden-agenda-2021-08-24/

The Struggle for the Soul of America: The Afghan Tragedy

I travelled overland through Afghanistan on my way to India in the fall of 1972. It was before the failed Russian invasion and well before the American incursion. Back then, the country was at peace.

What struck me most about Afghanistan was its rugged independence. I entered the country from its western neighbor, Iran. Having been ruled by the U.S. supported Shah for many years, Iran clearly exhibited a strong American influence. To the east of Afghanistan stood Pakistan, which had been part of the British Empire for a long time.

Surrounded by all this western persuasion, Afghanistan proudly maintained its unique individuality. In fact, it was more like a gathering of tribal fiefdoms than a unified country. To believe that a foreign power like the United States could march in and transform Afghanistan into a western styled democracy was a fool’s errand.

Tragically, it took 20 years for the United States to understand that it could not determine the outcome of Afghanistan’s civil war. During that time we spent nearly $1 trillion in this futile attempt.[1] Related costs, e.g., interest on the war debt and support for injured military, will continue to mount for years to come. In addition, more than six thousand Americans lost their lives there. Well over a hundred thousand Afghanis were killed as well.[2]

The United States has little to show for this massive endeavor. Yes, we took out Osama Ben Laden. But that was in Pakistan over ten years ago.[3] In truth, our country just postponed the inevitable, the Taliban control of Afghanistan.

Probably the greatest tragedy has yet to come. The Taliban treat Afghani women and girls savagely. With its takeover of the country, women will be beaten, even executed, for the smallest violations of the Taliban’s strict moral code.[4]

Afghanistan is yet another example of grossly incompetent American foreign policy. Our country has a counterproductive habit of backing unpopular, corrupt governments that are eventually overthrown by native insurgents who then install anti-American, militant regimes. A prime example is the Shah of Iran, who was deposed by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, bringing about the Islamic revolution in 1979.[5] The U.S. involvement in Chile, Cuba and Vietnam also come to mind.

But the worst case of disastrous American foreign policy, of course, is China. Chiang Kai-Shek and the Kuomintang may have been the most corrupt of all U.S. allies.[6] In 1949, his American backed government was toppled by Mao Zedong and the communist revolution. More than seventy years later, the United States is still coping with the consequences of that misguided policy blunder.

Now, with this latest foreign policy catastrophe, we can only hope that our country will learn a strategic lesson about involving itself in another nation’s internal affairs. While we may mean well, the United States does not have the omniscient wisdom and wherewithal to do what’s right for other countries. We have a nearly impossible time doing the right thing for our own people.

While we cannot and should not completely withdraw from the world stage, our nation must step back and fully re-examine how to move forward in the international arena in the best interests of justice and world peace.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/08/14/statement-by-president-joe-biden-on-afghanistan/

[2] https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2021-08-14/costs-of-the-afghanistan-war-in-lives-and-dollars

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killing_of_Osama_bin_Laden#:~:text=Osama%20bin%20Laden%2C%20the%20founder,DEVGRU%20or%20SEAL%20Team%20Six

[4] https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2021/08/the-talibans-return-is-awful-for-women-in-afghanistan/619765/

[5] https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/shah-flees-iran

[6] https://www.salon.com/2014/03/08/35_countries_the_u_s_has_backed_international_crime_partner/