Friday, June 6, 2008

The Example We Set

Since World War II, America has been the de facto leader of the free world. Today, the scales are tipping. Globalization is evening out the playing field, and, although it seems as though our economy is faltering, really it's just the rest of the world who is getter richer. A global free trade market is spreading out the wealth. India and China are each growing an enormous, car-driving middle class. That's what prosperity looks like. Cars and KFC.

Today, we are still in position to be a leader of the world, but all signs point to a waning of our power in the coming decades - or more accurately, a growth of power abroad. Some call it the end of an empire, and history supports that idea (e.g. Rome, Spain, England, et al).

The question I would like to ask is: What do we want our legacy to be from our time as the a global superpower? If the empire ended today, we'd have a spotty reputation at best. Fifty years of perpetual wars, cold and hot. A foreign policy of bullying instead of collaboration. Hyper-decadence and skyrocketing obesity coupled with weak foreign aid programs to help people in nations that aren't as well-off as we are. A nonchalant attitude towards torture and the Geneva Convention. If the empire ended today, we would have to admit that we have sent a bad example abroad - and we would most likely pay for it once someone else takes the lead.

As a nation, it is imperative that we set a good example. For, as history tells us, it won't be our planet forever. In a thousand years, it could be Brazil that is the worldwide superpower, or Russia, or China. If we neglect global Good Neighbor standards, we are making the statement that it's OK to get away with what you can. We are encouraging the next world leaders to push the boundaries of civility and help out only when necessary.

I would not want to be on the receiving end of our foreign policy, but if the next superpower takes our example, our descendants some day inevitably will be.

Here's to preventative maintenance.

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