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— This Month —
So Now What?
What Will America's Future Bring?
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So Now What?
This being the end of the year, we thought that
rather than give you another Signal Corps story
to chew your way through—with that post-New Year
hangover you still have—we would provide you
with something easier for you to read… something
you can get your head around, so to speak. As an
alternative to more stories about the Army and
war, we decided instead to craft an article for
you that tries to assess where we all are in
this world… all of us: you, me, the guy next
door, that lousy kid that your granddaughter
seems to be dating, and everyone else in this
country for that matter.
Our thought is that after the turmoil of the
last election, and with the continuing drama
being foisted upon us by those who live, breath
identity politics, it’s time to take stock
of where we are in the world… look back over
what the past 8 years brought us, and try to figure out where
we are going from here. So, while next month
we’ll have a great new Signal Corps story for
you to read, for now we ask you to kick back,
read what we have written; designed
to make you ponder what changes are ahead for
To keep your reading light, we’ve segmented our
thoughts into three areas that we think
synopsize where our country is in the world
right now; the topics we write of below cover
International, Military and Civilian matters.
Reading them, you will find yourself developing
your own view as to whether humanity—and
America—is moving in the right direction or not.
To help you round out that view, we have added a
fourth article to these three. Called What’s
Next? it summarizes what the prior three topics
have in common, and there from suggests a
viewpoint which will help you judge the world that
Read our topics in any order you wish; for
your consideration this new year, we present the
1. Is China Preparing To Fill America’s Shoes,
And Do We Even Care?
2. Is the Pentagon On Our Side, Or Their Own?
3. What Happened to America’s Education System?
4. What’s Next?
1. Is China Preparing To Fill America’s Shoes,
And Do We Even Care?
As a young strapping man of the world—freshly
back from my tour of duty in Vietnam—I took a
vacation to Barbados. There I sampled every form
of rum man could make, lay on the beach warming
my war zone harrowed body, and savored being
One day, as I unpeeled myself from the pink
sands of my favorite beach spot on Bottom Bay,
to go find another bottle of Pineapple Rum, I
nearly bumped into an old man walking towards
bleached white skin everywhere, I knew
immediately he was not a native; instead, I
reasoned, he must have been a European. Only
someone who lived full time in the lousy weather
they have in Europe could possibly be that
white. So, needing a drinking companion for the
day, I hailed him with a hello.
In short order I learned that he came from
Germany, and was… as I was… on vacation. After a
chat or two we got around to talking about
German–American relations. At that point I told
him a story of a German friend of mine who could
barely stand talking to me, because I was an
American, and he… as a German… was, like so many
other Germans… sick and tired of the politicians
that run his country cow towing and caving in to
every demand America made on Germany.
Back in those days Helmut Kohl was Chancellor of
Germany. Recognizing that Germany needed the
U.S. to protect its interests in the world,
especially against Russia, Chancellor Kohl
acted—as far as the German people were
concerned—as a sycophant, towards the U.S.
For the Germans, an exceptionally proud people
with a great heritage that goes back over 1,500
years to 481—when they came together as a nation
during the Frankish Period—to be taking orders
from the United States was just too much to
swallow. Sure, that little Adolph Hitler period
of 12 years put a tarnish on the souls of the
German people… but it was only 12 years, you
know. Did they now have to live under the thumb
of America’s quasi-imperialist leanings forever?
So troubling was the fact that Kohl refused to
stand up to America that almost any German you
spoke with back then would argue that America
was the culprit, rather than the obsequiousness
of their leaders. As for me, having many German
friends, when they complained over and over
again about how we had taken their independence
away, I took to telling them bluntly that the
problem was not of our making, but theirs. I
told them that if they really didn’t like
America telling them how to live their lives,
all they had to do was grow a set of balls and
tell us to shut down our military bases, cancel
the lend lease funding we were providing them
with, leave their country, and let them have at
it on their own.
my new found German beach friend and I settled
in with a sun warmed bottle of Plantation’s
Pineapple Rum to share between us, I launched
into my problem with German’s who thought that
their lack of resolve in taking control of their
own country was our fault, not theirs. I told
him that frankly, we American’s were tired of
being the world’s policeman, of being the ones
who were called on to define the value system
others should hold, of being the ones who were
expected to, first, step forward and lend money
to struggling countries whose economies were
moribund due to their own corruption and
nepotism, and second, to be the ones the world
looked to, to send our own soldiers to fight
wars and sort out the messes they
With a wry smile, he looked at me, took a sip
from the bottle we shared, and said in a heavy
German accent, “But don’t you know you have to
“You, you Americans… you have to do this. This
is your job. No other country is strong enough
to take on this job… certainly not my little war
torn Germany… not to mention the fact that after
what we did in World War II no country would
follow our lead, or absorb as their value system
the one we just finished showing the world.
“You have to do this. Only America has developed
a value system worth following, and so now it is
your job to tell us what values we should have.
Only America, my friend” he said.
“So forget about your silly German friends and
their complaints about what weak leadership we
have. This is America’s job… to be the world’s
policeman and the world’s conscience. If you
don’t do this work, no one will.”
Looking back on it now, what he said made sense.
The world needed then, and still does today, a
country that can set the bar when it comes to
how people on this planet should live with each
other… a country that could and will provide the
kind of social, economic, military and political
leadership the peoples of the world need if we
are to live in freedom; without tyranny or fear
of our fellow man.
But that was then. The question is, as the date
turns from 2016 to 2017, does the world still
need that kind of leadership and commitment from
America? Commitment to step forward and do the
job needed, versus just sitting back and
proselytizing; versus patting ourselves on the
back but doing nothing when it comes to stepping
forward and setting the example, by doing what
needs to be done, dirty though it may be?
The case of China and her recent geo-political
activities begs that this question be answered.
China is preparing to fill America’s shoes.
Should we let it?
We’ll let you decide, but in our view without
U.S. leadership not only is the West in danger
of not being able to survive—culturally,
socially, and with good morals and values—but so
too are the countries of Asia, Southeast Asia
Already people are saying that with Donald Trump
as our new President, America will defocus its
efforts as they relate to being the world’s
policeman, guarantor, economic foundation and
value setter. From now on, every country is
going to have to fend for itself, and if that’s
the case you can be sure that the first thing
that will get tossed to the wayside will be
development of a value system that favors people
as a harmonious society, as opposed to
individuals—and countries—out to line their own
may sound a bit extreme, but if one stops to
consider that it was America that defined and
set the norm for that part of society that we
now call the “West,” one can see this to be
true. That is, the West, as we now know it,
connotes a term that describes the transatlantic
world that emerged from the 20th century’s two
world wars, as redefined by America during the
four-decade Cold War, with regard to what the
international world order should be. During this
entire period America dominated the world, and
in the process defined what society would be,
and how both countries and the people that
populated them should act—until now. The West
then, as we know it now, is transatlantic, and
we made it that way. It is a child of the 20th
century, one that America created.
The important point here is that the West was
founded on America’s commitment to come to the
defense of any country in this transatlantic
region—not just its allies—striving towards the
dual goals of societal good and freedom for its
peoples. As to what societal good entailed, it
centered around a set of freedoms first
envisioned in this same part of the world:
freedom from want and persecution, freedom to
think and speak of what one thinks, and freedom
to practice whatever sort of religion one might
If one looks back on what has been accomplished
since America set out to attain this goal, one
can say that the Western order as we know it
today would not exist without the U.S. having
played this crucial role.
Is this good or bad? Is the world—or at least
the West—in a better state today because America
acted as the world’s policeman? And is this a
role America should continue to play?
Knowing too that America has played a similar
yet less domineering role in the East, should
America double down and be the world's policeman
not just for the West, but for the East too? And
if it is to do so, should it develop a unified
platform of principles to follow around the
world, rather than have one set of principles
for the West and another for the East?
Or is it time for America to step back from this
task and let another country take it on? A
country like China, who sits ready to jump in
not only where America fails, but when America
shirks its duties.
When the question is formed this way, one cannot
help but think that this is a role America must
continue to play, for if not, the future of the
West, as well as the East, will be at stake and
up for taking by any number of unpleasant
us use China as an example then. If President
Trump allows former President Obama’s policy of
isolationist nationalism to dominate his
administration, as it had Obama’s, then the
global leadership power vacuum that the Obama
administration created during its 8 years in
office will become even larger and stronger.
Already the world has come to realize that
carrying the title of the world’s most powerful
country means nothing if the people who wield
that power refuse to use it. The example of the
“red line” that was set for Assad proved this
point for the world to see: being powerful is
one thing, using it is another. Talking loudly
while carrying a stick that you are afraid to
use is nowhere near as effective as talking
softly but carrying Roosevelt's big stick... and
using it to promote your principles and values.
What will President Trump do?
For one thing, we know that he will use the power that lay
behind the name America as the foundation for negotiating
deals (as he likes to call them) that are in our best
interest. That is, he will bluff his way to a better
negotiated position by threatening strong actions if
the opposing country does not concede on the points that
matter to him. That's what businessmen do. But even if he
does this, what then?
If, say, President Trump threatens to support greater
freedom for Taiwan if China does not give up its
expansionist activities in the South China Sea, will he
actually carry through with his threat—and push the world to
the brink of a war between the U.S. and China by not only
standing by Taiwan but tossing China’s military off of the
islands they recently militarized—or will he cave in, afraid
to use the stick we gave him, to carry the day?
This page last updated 1 January 2017.
New content is constantly being added. Please check back
– Received this past 22
December was an update on one of our missing Candidates.
Candidate David Mayer III, a graduate of Class 07-52,
Section C (on June 2, 1952), dropped us a note to let us
know he was alive and well, living in England. In his time
since OCS Candidate Mayer has gone on to win the prestigious
Guggenheim Fellowship award, as well as author
several books on theatre and art. Click
here to read his bio, or visit his Class Page
an update on the passing of Candidate Michael Bulavko, of Class 10-42. You can read his
here, and check out his Class page
here. It's worth looking at both... first, Michael not
only left the world with a great legacy, but also a son who
serves the Army too. Second, his class page is impressive
for the number of graduates it produced: 893. Think about
it... 893 Army Signal Corps Officers from one class, many of which
gave their all for our country. God rest these great American heroes, all.
received an updated mini-bio from Candidate Robert L.
Fisher, OCS Class 10-67. We've posted it on a private bio
page for him, along with a picture he sent along. Be sure to
read it! Either click onhis OCS Class Page,
and then on his
highlighted name on the page to get to it, or clickhereto jump directly to his bio
– In early November we received a copy of the Class Picture for Army Signal OCS Class
66-17A. H. Don Hamilton of that class, working with Major
(R) Green, managed to find one and send it along to us.
We've finally got it
posted on the Class Page, so
click here to see it. And...
if you have a few pictures from your own class, or your time
in the service, send them along to us and we'll add them to
your Class Page.
Continued from left column...
You see, there are two matters at play here. The first is
obviously the issue of using the threat of closer ties
between the U.S. and Taiwan to cajole China into pulling
back from its effort to turn the South China Sea into its
own bathtub, while the second has to do with all of those
nice but sticky things relating to America promulgating its
value system around the world.
You remember that stuff… the stuff that over the past 100
years turned the West from the basket case it was in to what
it is today? The idea of America playing the world’s
policeman, and in the process making the world a better
place? If, as President Trump goes out to the world at large
and employs his negotiating skills to attain economic value
for America, he does not also focus on how he will support
the promulgation of freedom and democracy—instilling, and
where necessary, forcing the acceptance of peaceful values
in society at large—then he may lose on both ends. That is,
in the case of the example we just gave regarding America
and China, if Trump loses the negotiations he might also
further tarnish America’s global leadership role to the
extent that the East continues to turn away from America, as
it is now doing.
If America is no longer able to guarantee Western and
Eastern countries’ security, or defend an international
order based on an American driven value system that breeds
through globalization, then all is lost. The bad guys will—eventually—take
over the world.
Further, unlike his BFF Putin, Trump does not have the
luxury of taking an imperial approach when it comes to
making the world safer while he embarks on his quest to make
America great again. Instead, he needs to hit the ground
running, but do so in a way that guarantees the backing of
Congress and that element of the American people that is
most vocal in the media. Without this, he will be
“negotiating” with one arm tied behind his back.
President Obama has already told him bluntly to deal
cautiously with China. Coming from a man that was used by
China to mop the floor of the East, if Trump chooses to
ignore this advice he may be doing himself a favor. The
truth is, it is China that is most in need of a friendly
America. It’s economy is in near free fall, its economic
foundation (based on export, not local consumption) is a
mess, its people don’t trust their own government, the value
of the only assets the people of China have (their homes) is
sitting on a bubble, currency flight is rampant, corruption,
while tamped down in some quarters, is popping up in others,
and on, and on.
The problems the heads of China’s government face are
enormous and plenty. The last thing they need is a fight
with Donald Trump. Yet that’s exactly what Donald Trump
should take to them: a fight for their lives.
If President Trump’s goal is to make America great again by
winning economic encounters with the rest of the world, then
China is the place to start. Economic gains can quickly be
had there… if Trump plays his cards right.
Trump has already pledged to scrap the 12-country
Trans-Pacific Partnership, a decision that many say would be
a mistake as it would force the U.S. to negotiate individual
treaties with individual countries. Considering that this is
exactly what China is doing right now regarding access to
and control over the South China Sea, following this
approach on economic and trade issues would allow President
Trump to negotiate—tit for tat—better deals with each
country involved than that which China is offering to them.
Note here that we are suggesting that he negotiate economic
and trade matters with each country, on an individual basis.
But when it comes to the issue of “America the policeman,”
we feel he should not approach these countries on an
individual basis, but draw them into a “value and
principles” cooperative/collective. That is, if they join
America under an overarching security umbrella designed to
thwart China’s South China Sea expansion efforts—among other
things—we will grant them better terms in the economic
“deals” they negotiate with us, individually. This one-two
punch combination should help bring the countries of the
East over to our side, as well as
lead to each slowly building a better value system of their
On one hand then, the economic aspects of the make America
great again goal will be gained via individual economic and
trade negotiations, the sweetness of which each country
will be able to further tweak to their benefit if they also
subscribe to America’s dual, principled goals of societal
good and freedom for the world's peoples.
point is this: America’s position in the world has been
diminished. Many countries no longer have respect for us,
never mind hold us in awe as they used to. Regardless of how
we got here, unless America regains the moral high ground it
will never be great again. Think of Charlie Sheen and you
will see what we mean: winning is one thing, having class is
another. For America, winning all of the economic and trade
negotiations the world holds may make us a country of
plenty, but it will never restore us to the position of
being society’s principled, ethical, moral leader. That can
only be done if America once again starts acting as though
it values those values.
As this year transitions from 2016 to 2017, make no mistake
about it: Europe is far too weak and divided to act in
America’s stead… not strategically, not economically and not
when it comes to setting principled examples for societal
behavior. The same is true for the countries of Asia,
Southeast Asia and Austral-Asia. Without U.S. leadership,
neither the West nor the East can survive. Thus, the Western
world as virtually everyone knows it, and the rising Eastern
world too, with all of its beauty and hope for humanity,
will—when it comes to the moral principles that should
govern society’s behavior—most certainly perish before our
So what comes next? While in Europe nationalism is taking
control, and if not properly guided with pressure from
America’s big stick, may cause the continent to once again
revert to war; in China there is no doubt: China is
preparing to fill America’s shoes. Should we let it, or is
there still a role for America to play in guaranteeing world
peace and setting the norms for societal principles and
2. Is the Pentagon On Our Side, Or
If America is to work to guarantee world peace, and both set
up and reinforce societal value systems along the way, it
must be prepared to go to war to do so. This, presumably, is
why the DoD and the Pentagon exist… to create and sustain
the ability for America to go to war.
To go to war however, the Pentagon needs a fighting force
that will follow its direction. Based on some of the sketchy
things the Pentagon has been up to over the past few years,
we wonder if it is still able to complete this mission. That
is, is it still able to hold the fighting man’s respect as
it used to?
As we head into this new year, keep your eye on the DoD and
see if the new administration that is only now taking its
seat will give the men who lead the Pentagon the head they
need to reinvigorate the DoD’s standards of
behavior, reinforce the principled virtues we expect of
it, and reestablish those dictates of conscience that made
all of us veterans proud to be such. Watch, as the coming
years pass, and see if the DoD restores the credibility this
fine institution is beginning to lose.
What credibility problems does the DoD and Pentagon have,
you ask? In our view, quite a few.
As an example, we might first start with the issue of the
general who retired from the Army in 2011 with the rank of a
four-star general, the highest rank an Army officer can
achieve… only to find himself demoted for sharing classified
information with his lover. What in God’s name is the
purpose of having a regulation that prohibits Officers from
having extramarital affairs if the generals at the top are
doing just that? And why on earth are there still people in
stockades for not properly handling classified materials, if
this guy can get away with what he did? Either he should be
sitting in a cell next to them, or else everyone should be
freed. At the very least, the Pentagon should be rewriting
the rules with respect to what kind of punishments military
people get if they mishandle classified information.
See what we mean? As this new year comes in, and the Trump
administration sets off on its tour of duty, we should all
keep an eye on what is going on in the Pentagon, and whether
or not they get busy righting the boat they have been
letting water seep into.
How about another example of past incompetence and
negligence? How can a country maintain a fighting force that
will follow its military leaders if those military leaders are found to be
cooking the books on the matter of enemy intelligence? Here
we are referring to the issue of the U.S. Central Command
altering intelligence reports so that the conclusions
drawn would fall in line with what the White House wanted to see
and publish to the public. As we said in our September 2016
article on this topic, this is nothing short of treason and
someone should hang for it.
Then there is the case of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, and
the Army’s seeming inability to finish his court martial. We
frankly don’t care whether he is found guilty or innocent…
but to drag this case on so that the President doesn’t look
like a fool for embracing this idiot is beyond belief. And
whose fault is it that the kid hasn’t been prosecuted yet?
The DoD/Pentagon. Come on guys, if you want the soldiers that
slog the field of battle to follow your commands, how about
cleaning up your act and re-earning their respect.
To us this is troubling. While the guys at the top of the
U.S. military slither up to the Commander in Chief to
further their career, every EM in the Army is forming the
opinion that the DoD is just as corrupt as the any other
agency of our government. From their perspective, it doesn’t
matter whether you break the law or not, all that matters is
who you know. The unfortunate conclusion that one draws from
this is that military law is no longer applied on a uniform
basis. If you have enough rank and connections, you will get
off with nary a reprimand.
Which brings us to the present.
Over the past few days another interesting thing has popped
to the surface: reports that the Pentagon has pulled the
plug on a research program that was underway, because they
didn’t like the results coming out of it. If the media is to
be believed, the Pentagon has quietly sidelined a program
that placed blast gauges on thousands of combat troops in
Afghanistan, to see how best to combat mild traumatic brain
In its simplest form, the program was designed to help
understand more about combat explosion based brain injuries.
The intent was to identify how close a service member needed
to be to an explosion, and at what concussive force the
explosion had to be for the serviceman to sustain a
concussion or mild traumatic brain injury.
To make this determination the study mounted small wearable
devices that measured the force parameters surrounding the
soldier. And while the devices did produce a trove of data
on blast exposure, they also produced evidence that the most
worrisome level of exposure to the kinds of blasts that
cause brain injuries came not from incoming enemy rounds,
but from the blast pressure created by the heavy weapon the
soldier was firing.
Gulp. Now what?
Answer: drop the program.
General Peter Chiarelli, who was the Army's Vice Chief
of Staff before retiring, said the decision to shut down the
research program is “a huge mistake.” He went on to say that
mild TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) was the signature wound of
the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. All told, it affected more
than 200,000 troops across these two wars. “Having data from
blast sensors could play a very, very important role in
helping us understand why an individual has negative effects
from a concussion,” Chiarelli said, “or why an individual
develops one of the neurodegenerative diseases that seem
connected with concussion, everything from ALS, to
Parkinson's to dementia and even Alzheimer’s."
studies showed, an overpressure of just 5 pounds per square
inch can burst an eardrum, while 100 PSI can prove
fatal; somewhere in the middle is where most concussions occur. With good data coming from the
gauges, why did the Pentagon shut the program down? Surely
it cannot be because we were learning that the cause of most
Traumatic Brain Injuries are the very guns we ourselves are
firing? Nah, that couldn’t be. Our military would not do
that to us… turn its back on the facts because they prove
The blast gauges are about the size of a
quarter. In the program troops would be fitted with three of
them, on their helmets and upper bodies. The gauges contain
sensors that measure overpressure, the sudden increase in
air pressure caused by an explosion. One observer said that
he watched as a soldier fired a shoulder-fired rocket. He
commented that “that shoulder-fired rocket actually gave him
a pretty significant overpressure exposure, just because he
was firing it from a bit of a confined space."
soldier returned from his mission, he reported that he had a
headache. A medic decided to check his gauges, and upon
doing so saw that the soldier had been exposed to a
significant level of overpressure. With that the medic took the soldier
to the hospital to be checked, and low and behold the neuro
exam he underwent proved that he had received a significant
concussion just from firing his own weapon.
That’s when the
higher-ups began looking suspiciously at the conclusions that
were beginning to be drawn from the program’s statistics.
More to the point, what they saw was that as researchers
began looking at the data from the gauges it was becoming
more and more clear that the sort of exposure this soldier
had undergone was not only common, but led to the same
concussive result in nearly every case—a mild form of TBI.
"The majority of
exposures were not from improvised explosive devices, as you
might expect," says David Borkholder, an engineering
professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the
founder of the company that made the blast gauges. Instead,
he said, the biggest cause of TBI was turning out to be
“blast-intensive weapons systems” like recoilless rifles,
shoulder-fired rockets, artillery and mortars. A service
member on the training range may experience 30 to 300
exposures per day over multiple days per week," he
So here we have it again… the Pentagon seemingly deciding to
sweep things under the rug rather than deal with them...
things that need to be dealt with, if the troops are to be
taken care of.
Is there any man alive that does not know that blast
injuries can be caused by one’s own weapon as well as those
of the enemy? Doesn’t everyone already know that there is
danger in war, and that negative results from friendly fire
occur far more often than is admitted? Why the big deal
then? Why hide this information? Does the Pentagon really
think that soldiers will stop firing their recoilless rifles
because the force might hurt them?
It’s all so absurd. Here the Pentagon has a chance to use
the data it is acquiring to design better combat clothing
and helmets… perhaps helmets with devices that counteract
the concussive force of a shoulder-fired rocket, to stop the
soldier firing the weapon from receiving a damaging blow;
but instead it opts to stick its head in the sand and hope
that a) no one noticed the results that were learned, and b)
the problem of TBI will go away.
This again is why we say that as last year morphs into this
year, you may want to keep an eye on what’s going on around
you. The world is changing, and not necessarily for the
better. In some cases the good guys are changing sides. They
are moving to the other side of the line that separates good
from bad. Let’s hope that this is not the case with our
beloved military… especially those in the DoD and Pentagon
that we depend on to protect our backsides.
As things stand today, it’s hard to say if they are on our
side or their own. After 8 years of constant pressure for
the military to think more like the civilian leaders that
command them, it is no wonder that they have let identity
politics seep into their mind. For many in the Pentagon
today being politically correct is more important than
having integrity and self worth. So much so that in many
cases a man’s self worth is measured by his dedication to
political correctness, rather than virtuous thinking and
Having said that, it is also true that the DoD and Pentagon
is staffed today with some of the world’s very best souls…
good, honest, upright people with character and principles
that we all should strive to emulate. These are not the
problem children. Instead it is the fools among them who
hold counsel with the “learned” politicians that fill our
government. Molière once said “A learned fool is more a fool
than an ignorant fool.” The Pentagon is staffed today with
more learned fools than we wish to admit. As these past 8
years segue into the next 4, and American society tries to
right itself, keep your eyes on these fools and don’t
hesitate to let them know when you see them doing something
you don’t agree with.
Which brings us to the next topic by which if you
contemplate what has happened to us over the past 8 years,
and watch the next 4 years unfold, you will be able to judge
if the years ahead are working towards our best interest or
against them: education.
3. What Happened to America’s
If America no longer holds center stage when it comes to
economics, politics and leadership, this is doubly so when
it comes to education. One wonders: Since the rise of
civilization in 3500 BCE (in lower Mesopotamia) people have
been educating their children. First parents took on this
task, then specialists within society. Over time the means
and methods of educating children has grown and expanded.
You would think that by now we would have figured out how to
do it right.
Seriously. How on earth is it possible that after 5,500+
years of educating our children there can still be some
question as to what works and what doesn’t?
As the next 4 years unfold, we should all watch to see how
America deals with the despicable situation it finds itself
in now… where it is ranked by the OECD 43rd in education in the world.
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