Threats weaken Americans

Published 10:08 am Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Thank you, North Korea. Your alleged cyberattack on Sony has, I hope, awakened the American people.

America is not doing so well, you see.

Sure, we are No. 1 in self-esteem — we are No. 1 at being indignant about a variety of perceived slights — but we’re not much good at understanding the real problems we face.

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Consider our debt. It recently exceeded $18 trillion — that’s $18 million times 1 million, says economist Stephen Moore. Writing for National Review, Moore explains that we haven’t yet felt the full weight of our debt because interest rates are historically low. When they increase to normal levels, America is going to be in a world of hurt. But few Americans understand or worry about that.

Here’s another threat Americans are ignorant of: cyber attack. Few have any idea that our country has been under attack for years or that our adversaries have been very successful stealing from us.

Though industrial espionage has been around a long time, the fact is that our smartphones, social media sites and Internet applications have opened up unprecedented opportunities for skilled adversaries to penetrate company systems and hide in the background undetected so they can swipe all kinds of proprietary information.

One industrial espionage expert told CNN that hungry, emerging economies see advantage in appropriating technology innovations, engineering designs and other intellectual property — ideas that took private companies in advanced countries lots of years and billions of dollars to develop.

If a country wants to really harm America, why drop a bomb when a proper cyber attack could shut down our electrical grid or our banking system, creating far more damage.

These threats are very real. China has been cleaning our clock for years. Thankfully, our government is finally coming around.

According to The Washington Times, the Pentagon established the U.S. Cyber Command in 2010. It consolidated the intelligence and cyber warfare capabilities of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines.

The Cyber Command “was the primary developer of the Stuxnet computer worm that struck Iran’s nuclear computers, causing significant damage to centrifuges,” says The Times. Cyber warfare tactics continue to come in handy as we shut down the systems through which terrorists are attempting to communicate.

So my hat goes off to the dinky communist country North Korea for shedding light on the challenges America is up against.

Look, the world is a competitive place and there are nasty people out there who wish to do America harm. It’s long been time to quit squabbling over the perceived violation of our many perceived rights and put our big boy pants on.

We need to get debt and government spending in order. We need to restructure our tax system. We need to get millions of people off the dole and back to work. And we need to unleash our pent-up economic genius to produce the wealth we need to pay our bills. To wit: we need to get serious about serious matters.

Because if we don’t get more serious in a very serious world, we may lose our status as the largest economy in the world.

Oops. I forgot. China overtook America as the No. 1 economy a few weeks ago.


Tom Purcell is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. Send comments to Tom at