This came out as a response to askjesse.
You write: "The United States could afford to eradicate global poverty on it's own with little or no harm to its own economy, while better serving the needs of their own citizens. Don't ask me why we don't."
I completely agree that foreign humanitarian aid would make a world of difference geopolitically. The US is currently the world's greedy, military presence -- the Marshall Plan, post-WWII US in Japan a long-forgotten way of solving problems.
The thing is, the US doesn't want to solve problems. Collectively, the US is much more interested in making money. Think about it at the level of our food industry. Our foods are filled with saturated fat, sugar, fat, preservatives, things that keep people buying the food, but which makes people fat with type-II diabetes. It's an economies-of-scale model -- end product's effect less important than moving cheap goods, making a profit.
And think about our current "military solution" in Iraq. Our country has poured trillions into military technology since WWII. A good military will annihilate human beings, but not much else. It was too "expensive" for the Pentagon to have a legit civil-servant infrastructure for the occupation. It takes a completely different cultural approach to "nation-building" -- a country needs thousands of motivated, dedicated, idealistic smart people to make reconstruction (colonization, really) work. The Brits did this for many years, and in many ways, their Empire looks more just than our own.
No military solution to a human problem, in other words.
The cultural basis for US geopolitical failure can be seen at the very simple level: people tire themselves working too much to make just enough money, or enough money to pay the mortgage and the SUV, and can't eat right, can't control their dogs, can't pay attention long, pay undocumented workers to mow their lawn, don't exercise.
Thomas Jefferson would puke at the sight of our megalopolises.