Who is America?

Dov Zakheim: It’s optimistic, because as I said, this is the great . . . There are a couple of things. First, when you’re a part of the greatest experiment in nationhood, which I believe we are, then you gotta be optimistic. The other thing about the United States is we keep rebounding. You know, we rebounded after the Great Depression. We rebounded after Vietnam. I mean, we’ve rebound. Some people said that we were in the dumpster in the Carter years. Well we rebounded. The greatness of this country is that we rebound. And I think we rebound because fundamentally, people here are optimistic, are hard working, and do have these values. Now you know, are they shared in the way that everybody sees and thinks exactly the same way? Of course not! Three hundred million people. Do you expect them all to . . . I mean 10% of them probably still believe in flying saucers, or that Elvis is alive. Not everybody does, but the fact is that in this country, you can still start from ground zero and wind up whoever, which is why people keep wanting to come here. I mean ultimately, just look where people vote. And I don’t mean voting in a ballot box. I mean voting with their feet. During the Cold War, how many people voted to go to the Soviet Union? How many people tried to cross that Berlin Wall and come into West Germany? How many people try to get into the United States? It’s not just to make the extra buck. There’s something about this place, and that makes me optimistic.

Recorded on: 7/2/07

Zakheim talks about what it means to be American.

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