Monday, June 16, 2014

Global Power Vacuum

The world is a better place with the United States as the preeminent global power.  As Americans are famous for, we boldly redefined the role.  Historically a position seized with an eye toward creating or expanding an empire, we have done neither.  In fact, our actions are more in line with those of a comic book superhero than dominant world power.  Regardless of the completely baseless propaganda of some of our detractors, we have not embarked on any great campaign to colonize other nations nor have we used our unparalleled military might as a hammer to subjugate the masses.  In fact, we have done quite the opposite as our military is not a weapon of tyranny, but one of liberation.  We obtained global super power status by being the essential factor in the defeat of the axis nations of World War II.  It was our combined military and industrial might that stymied the German Blitzkrieg in Europe, and repulsed Japan’s efforts to rule the Pacific.  We were defenders, not conquerors.  When the hostilities concluded we did not set about to survey our new possessions, instead we rebuilt the nations we had just defeated so they would not fall prey to the new threat rising in the East.  We did not take advantage of their weakened state opting instead to restore their self-rule.  This unique approach is the same manner with which we have conducted ourselves ever since, and it is what sets us apart as the world’s best hope.

Why is America different?  What has allowed us to resist the enticement of attempting world domination?  Perhaps it is not all that surprising that the United States has no aspirations for a global empire since we are a nation born of the rejection of this very concept.  A fate we did not see ourselves deserving of is not one we want to impose on others.  I’m not saying we are divine; we just do things differently because we see the world differently.  Our successful revolution against the realm the sun never set on was the genesis of the modern age.  A young and brash nation blazing a new trail of self-determination was the force that relegated the old world concept of an empire to the status of relic. 

Come natural or manmade disaster, there is one who is always offering assistance.   Regardless of how those in need feel about us, American aid will be among the first to arrive.  There is no more generous a people on the planet.  We willingly put aside political and ideological difference when more important things like survival and justice are at risk.  There is but one nation that has the ability to touch any place on the planet in a matter of hours to begin the process of returning to normal. There is but one nation that has the wealth, expertise, and desire to help regardless of the situation.  To have the most powerful nation also be the most generous and helpful nation is the optimum situation, an unheard of combination outside of fairy tales.  The world is currently the benefactor of this fairy tale, but for how long is the burning question.

Superheroes do exist.  With powers, skills, and achievements beyond those of mere mortals they fight for others in support of the cause of a better overall world.  Their actions do not necessarily reach the point of benevolence, but there is definitely an essence of selflessness, an overarching theme of promoting the general good.  This goal is pursued in the face of logic, personal risk, or even a clearly defined and personally beneficial end state.  When problems arise, the superhero is the one expected to confront the threat.  During good times, the superhero is treated with righteous indignation as a tolerated irritant, a source of envy by being a constant reminder that all others pale in comparison.   It is a thankless job where the appreciation exhibited during times of need quickly fades.  The superhero must be motivated by something other than approval or adoration.   Superheroes do exist as America checks all the boxes.

We live in a world where the laws of opposites function.  Since the superhero exists so too does their alter ego – the villain.  Those determined to subvert the actions, motives, and reputation of the champion in defense of their own efforts to amass power.  They seek the position held by the superhero, but intend to conduct themselves in a much more self-interested manner.  The general good is not a consideration, using the influence that comes with being the strongest will be maximized only to enrich themselves.  They view the world as a place where the masses are not there to be protected; they are there to be exploited.  If no one capable of confronting these dark forces chooses to accept the challenge things become simple very quickly, to the victor go the spoils.

What happens when the superhero decides they no longer want to bear the burden of being exceptional?  The answer to that question is what we are seeing play out right now.  The current president believes that America’s elevated status in the world order is the primary cause of international discontent.  He also believes that if all nations are perceived as equals a state of global harmony will be the result.  As with most of his socialist ideology, this thinking is absurd and proven to be flawed by real world examples.   When anything is grouped, a leader will rise.  Guidance must be given and decisions must be made.  Within a group opinions will vary as to what is best so weather the leader is beneficial or detrimental to the group depends on their motivation.  The influence the leadership position exerts makes it quite desirable.  If the best qualified does not accept the role or vacates it in the name of some foolish perception of equality, someone else will seize it.  There is no shortage of countries that would gladly relieve us of the title of global superpower, and they do not seek a community of equal nations.  Their ambitions are self-serving and more in line with the empire builders that previously occupied the position.

The United States is not the only nation that benefits from its super power status.  Western Europe rose from the ashes, South Korea repelled invasion from the North, the Soviet Union crumbled, countless victims of natural disaster have been given solace, and many a dictator have fallen since America became the world’s sentinel.  Rarely are those in power useful to anyone but themselves, so it is even more amazing how the stars have aligned.  Sitting at the head of the table is not always a rewarding experience.  Being the target of those that clamor for the seat of power can be wearing.  This is why leaders are not those faint of heart.  At no other time in human history has the most influential nation also been the most generous and cognizant of the needs of others. We are a nation born of those beliefs that give humanity its best chance at realizing its full potential.  We defend the weak, we give aid to those in need, and we stand boldly defiant as the guardian of self-determination.  Unfortunately, after a short seventy years America seems to have grown weary of being the world’s patron saint.  Electing a president blind to the responsibilities that are the price of greatness; he openly advocates our abdication of the position of leader of the free world.  Let us hope this is a temporary lapse and not a prelude to America hanging up its cape.  The American experiment is mankind’s greatest leap of faith in itself.  The success we have enjoyed shows the leap was worth taking and that we are the only ones capable of providing this opportunity to the rest of the world.  History is a great teacher and what it shows is that the United States serves the world best by leading it.