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Welcome, to the official website of Hayden Collins, a Conservative Republican of North West Georgia.  This website is unique, in that it offers links to Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. Tune into the Hayden Collins Radio Program on Saturdays at noon.  (Newstalk 1270 WYXC)  These sites will keep you up to date on the latest issues of importance to the citizens of North West Georgia, as well as the entire State of Georgia.  This website also includes several community service links of which Hayden has been a part of and associated within his community.  Over the past 20 years, Hayden and his family have served North West Georgia and the State of Georgia as Foster/Adoptive Parents.  Hayden’s other community service includes such groups as the Boy Scouts of America, Civil Air Patrol, ESGR, and the Georgia Youth Challenge.  Please take the time to get to know Hayden.  Hayden@HaydenCollins.org

A debt of leadership

President Obama is asking Congress for war powers authorization for another military operation against the Islamic terrorist group known as ISIS.  Notice that I didn’t say a “new” mission, because it isn’t.  Sending military personnel now is a tardy attempt at the damage control from the U.S.’ withdrawing from the region too soon, declaring victory too soon, and now the situation is so unstable that we have to go back.

The talking heads are kibitzing about the Republicans’ support of war, and the Democrats’ opposing an open-ended conflict and “enduring offensive ground operations”, and who’s going to win this tug-of-war.  Maybe they’re thinking about their legacy.  The administration couldn’t spend its way out of the debt, and is now proposing to start a war to spend money, to get the Republican side of the house on board. Patriotism is not a tool to be used lightly.  If this is our battle, and we walked away before due to poor leadership, we should definitely correct the problem.

This effort, if it’s successful, might help the outgoing President’s legacy because he wasn’t able to solve the perceived domestic problems.  But starting another war is not going to save the economy – we have to have longterm strategies not a distraction.  However, instability is going to be an issue.  It is imperative that the U.S. have the resources to respond appropriately to crisis, disaster, and war.  A country consumed by debt cannot do any of the above well.

For a moment, consider this: we declared victory and left Iraq, with no follow-up plan.  There was no equivalent of the Marshall Plan to help Iraq recover; Baby Boomers’ parents installed the Marshall Plan to help provide stability for those we defeated during World War II.  Now Japan and Germany are two of the strongest economic powers in the world.  Why could we not have moved U.S. bases into the region when we left the Gulf? G.I.s spending American dollars would have helped to stabilize the local economy.  But now there are no relationships between business and government, but base construction would have forged those connections and the relationship would change.  Iraq had its factories destroyed, no industry, nothing but oil, and it can only fight over land and oil.  All there is, is sand.  The oil market has been suffering, and the sand market isn’t doing that well, either.

ISIS has taken advantage of the opportunities that have come with mass chaos.  If this region is left unchecked and unchallenged, the instability will continue to grow and spread.  And as this instability spreads, a word of caution comes to mind: with this many active armies responding and reacting to ISIS executions, countries will start responding without coordinating, and there will be accidents, there will be friendly fire.

There is only one leader of the free world.  The U.S. used to be that leader, but now we have a Lead From Behind policy that allows other nations to escalate.  The result of that policy is the chaos we see today.  If there was a time for the Leader of the Free World to lead, it’s now.  We have to Lead.

Our leadership now needs to be thinking of planning, goals, strategy, and be obvious about it.  Every response we plan now has to consider or debt first, and our debt threatens our response – and our perceived role in the world.

In Bret Stephens’ book America In Retreat, he frames this struggle – which was part of the reason the current administration chose the Lead From Behind position – as a need for the U.S. to be “the global cop [who] must continue to walk the ‘old beat [as] a reassuring presence in a still-dangerous world,’ and persuade the nervous neighbors to, in effect, put away their guns.”

It is the war that we are already fighting – the financial war – that makes it hard for most of us to see the rationale for keeping this going, when we really can’t afford to.  From a dollars and cents point of view, we would like another nation to take over the leadership role that the U.S. has held since the end of WW II.  In economics this is called the “free rider” problem: others get to enjoy the benefits without having to foot the bill.  But, as Bret Stephens put it, “‘America is better served by a world of supposed freeloaders than by a world of foreign policy free-lancers.’”

The U.S. has to stop acting like a foreign policy free-lancer: showing up a week late, and hearing what the world leaders have decided, instead of being at the table when the decisions are being made.

We have to find a way to confront the debt, and the weakness we’ve developed in foreign policy.  This is no time for the voice of reason to have laryngitis.

To stop the uncoordinated fighting, the U.S. should take leadership in forming a coalition, asserting the laws of the land over reactionary leadership. It’s obvious that ISIS is wrong.  As neighbors on the same planet, we have to do something, but there’s no time to sit down for a summit about it.  We must act together, now.

This team will need leadership.  We need a coalition like the one we had Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1992, to right the laws of the land and restore rights to the region.

But we still have to consider our debt.  If Congress does authorize going back, could we hit the unsustainable debt limit of $83 trillion by the end of 2015?

One of the things FDR did during WW II, was saying that every man in his army will know how to use a rifle, even the cook.  It was important, making each shot count.  And knowing there was only so much ammunition in the box.

We are at that point again.  There is only so much debt we can take.  Could it be the goal of our enemies is to collapse the U.S. in debt to the point we cannot feed our armies?

The U.S. has to take a leadership role, because others have failed their leadership.  We are hampered by our debt.  Those in the world who would do us harm, would love to see the debt make our country fail.  And when that happens, then it will be identified as a failure of leadership.  Now it’s just a debt.  When we fail to respond because we can’t, then we are defeated.

For us and for the world, we need to be in a position to lead.

The Battle of Bedford Falls

The Battle of Bedford Falls was not an engagement between opposing armies. You won’t find a description on Wikipedia of a skirmish between volunteers, or even a guerilla action.  It was – and is – a long-running conflict.  It is the struggle described the 1946 movie “It’s A Wonderful Life” that’s become a staple of many families’ Christmas.

In the movie, George Bailey – a small town everyman who always puts others’ needs and the good of the community ahead of his own goals and dreams – is at the end of his rope, when he meets Clarence.  The story uses a WW II analogy, with Angel 2nd Class Clarence having not yet earned his wings, as he is sent to help George see the quiet leadership he has been providing in the ongoing, everyday Battle of Bedford Falls.  For many members of the community, George is their lifeline, although most of the time it is unrecognized. Through most of the movie, the things that happen to George are far from Wonderful, but when the chips are down, all of those that George has supported show up and come to his rescue.

2014 saw neither the beginning nor the end of the Battle of Bedford Falls.  Bedford Falls is a fictitious town in New York state, but this battle takes place all across the country, even in northwest Georgia.  And the battle continues to this day.

The holidays are a time when many of the young people who were part of our Boy Scout troop, the CAP squadron, and our foster home come by to say hello – which leads to a game of golf at 38 degrees or dinner or car repairs or laundry or whatever, and many times a fatherly chat. In one such conversation recently, when one of the boys was telling me about the new flower in his life, I got to see a lifeline like that in the movie.

I asked him if he knew his new flame’s phone number.  His response pleased and scared me.  Sir, he said, I only know your number, meaning our home phone.  This could be a case of a young man who can only remember one number, or that his reliance on technology has achieved a level that the numbers themselves are no longer important as long as they come up under his list of Contacts on his smartphone.  I got to wondering if this was just a fluke, so I did a short survey of the kids.  Question number one was, what is the phone number of your boy / girl friend.  The second question is what is the number for emergencies.  I called them from my cell phone, and 13 of the 15 young people I asked gave my home number as an emergency contact.

This was on my mind because my family, in our own battle, has been looking at the budget and finding a few items that we felt that we no longer needed.  One of them was that home phone line that we have had for over 20 years.  Since I work at home, the line has also seen service as a Fax and carried the DSL.  But our plan was to get rid of it by January.  So now I know that the number can’t go, otherwise these Pirates, Lost Souls and Thieves will have no one to call when the phone dies, they are out of money, in trouble or any number of things has gone wrong.

This is the ongoing, everyday Battle of Bedford Falls.  Many whom you know, and perhaps you yourself, have been on the front lines this year.

And you may not be able to see the lifeline that you are to others.

But we look forward to fighting it, each day, each year, regardless of the conditions because we, like George at the end of the movie, can each of us find ourselves the richest people.But we look forward to fighting it, each day, each year, regardless of the conditions because we, like George at the end of the movie, can each of us find ourselves the richest people.

As we send our wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, let us look forward to new challenges in 2015 as we strive, struggle and battle for every moment we can get with Family and Friends. Keep fighting the good fight.

Be About It.