Dangerous Places

Dangerous Places airs
Saturday, May 5 at 3 p.m. ET.

In 2001 we in the United States live in relative peace and prosperity. We have won the cold war, emerged as the lone superpower on the planet, and enjoy an economic, cultural and military affluence that the world has never seen.

But while we may feel safe and comfortable at home, is that comfort just a perception? How safe are we from foreign threats? What role should we play in the world, and how far should we go to ensure our safety? What responsibility do we have as world citizens to ease the suffering of millions of our fellow human beings?

Dangerous Places is an hour long special that attempts to answer some of these questions, and to raise some others. Utilizing the expertise of foreign policy experts, we take a virtual tour of the world, analyzing where the conflict is, what its historical background is, and how it affects the Unites States.

While we may feel safe and insulated from foreign threats, the fact is that the world is still a very dangerous place. Millions of human beings on our planet are caught up in violent conflict every single day. Millions more live under the threat of violence, with festering problems only one flare up away from exploding into war.

Conflicts over religion, ethnic backgrounds, historical claims, regional disputes and economic struggles continue to plague our planet.

The entire African continent is reaching a destabilized existence, as the struggles between modernization and tribal conflicts merge with a devastating AIDS epidemic and famine. Asia continues to simmer as tensions on the Korean peninsula and in the Taiwan Straits seem to be building. India and Pakistan have begun a nuclear arms race that could have devastating consequences for the entire planet. The Middle East is in such turmoil that violence in Israel, and bombing missions by U.S. aircraft, have almost become routine stories in the news. Europe continues to deal with ethnic and regional conflicts, and Latin America - our geographical neighbors - continues to deal with drugs and political instability. And none of this even begins to deal with the issue of terrorism.

Clearly we are in a much different world from the Cold War, where we knew who our enemies were and therefore had a pretty good idea of what they would do and why. Now, as the only power that has the ability to lead the world, we are in a much different position. If we are not careful, the rest of the world community could come to resent us and build coalitions against us. Or, in the ever-growing world market, if we were to turn our back on the world’s problems we could soon find ourselves with much less prosperity at home. But how engaged can we be? How many resources can we dedicate to solving problems that have existed for centuries?

The fact is the United States is only 4 or 5 steps away from being drawn into any conflict, anywhere on the planet. We have won the cold war, and we have reaped a wonderful peace dividend from it. But the world remains a dangerous place and the United States needs to assess what our role is and what exactly we need to do to maintain the safety that all too many of us take for granted. We have a unique responsibility, never before seen in the world. No matter where in the world there is conflict, there are U.S. citizens who have relatives that are affected by it. I hope this program helps shed some light on the challenges facing us in the 21st century, and helps viewers understand that our planet contains some very dangerous places.