The United States, is clearly the most dominant military power in the world, to which its tentacles, its influence, its imprint, its force is felt in virtually every country and virtually every nook of every area of the world. The problem though with being the greatest military power in the world is that while that achievement may have its merits on certain levels, it is also a given that the power to kill, the power to destroy, the power to tear down, is in essence a negative power, a destructive power. Consequently, destroying other country's infrastructure, their foodstuffs, their fuel, and their opportunity, is not the mark of a great nation, but is most definitely the mark of a nation that lacks the imagination, the wisdom, and the vision to effect real change at a mature and caring level.
I have never appreciated the metaphor, that we need to "wage a war on poverty", because we are not now, nor have we ever been at war with poverty. After all, you cannot eliminate poverty by shooting at it; instead, to eliminate poverty, you must create the conditions to bring prosperity and/or opportunity for all and to achieve that takes a concerted and a dedicated group effort with foresight. Since, President Johnson declared a war on poverty in 1964, fifty years have passed, and yet poverty still exists in America. In 1964, the trend line was clearly trending down and from a level of 19% in 1964; the poverty rate went down at an impressive rate to as low as 11.2% in 1974, whereas the poverty rate for 2013 as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau is currently at 14.5%, which means that in the last forty years, poverty has increased and not decreased in America. Further, this translates to a total of 45.68 million Americans that live below the poverty line, this in a nation that is widely perceived to be the greatest nation the world has ever known and also the most prosperous.
Perhaps there are those that believe that we will always have the poor amongst us, and that although our poverty rate appears to be great, that this is simply the nature of the game, or perhaps there are those that believe that America gives everyone an equal opportunity to lift themselves up by their own bootstraps and that therefore they should do so, or perhaps that the very definition of poverty is arbitrary, and simply those that we call "impoverished", really aren't lacking in much of anything that you need in order to survive, and to simply get over it, or better yet just get a job. None of these criticisms are very fair, especially considering that America spends $840 billion dollars on military defense, whereas the last time that Congress declared war was in 1941!
The poverty rate in America is a modern day tragedy, completely unnecessary, take Taiwan (the Republic of China), for instance, this island nation of nearly 24 million peoples, has a poverty rate as estimated by the World Factbook, CIA, for 2010 of 1.16%, although it is estimated as of 2012 that their poverty rate has risen to 1.78%, as noted by bbc.com. This is an incredible achievement for a country that as recently as 1950, had a per capita income of a mere $50 per year as reported by fee.org. The United States would do well to study the characteristics of what makes a country prosper over such a short period of time and it would probably find that it is not from having a military that acts as if it is the world's policeman, but comes more from emphasizing and encouraging good morals, good ethics, hard work, dedication, fairness, sound education, rule of law, and a return to the grit and determination of all of the best of America.