January 1, 2007

Superpower Failure

2007 will be the year America comes to terms with the fact that we have squandered our super powers. May the phrase "world's only superpower" find its way to the bin of failed hegemony.

Military might has always been a definer of superpower status, and the current debacle in Iraq pulls the curtain down on that particular show. As we debate numbers of humans to deploy, the very capability of our armed forces comes into doubt. Significant portions of the Americans in Iraq are private not military, and the bulk of our treasure is spent on the private companies. Yes, our military might is not owned, but leased.

If having an incapable pentagon is bothersome to war hawks, they should be especially troubled now, since the attack on Iraq was partly intended to make up for smaller but significant embarrassments like the USS Cole, Somalia, Lebanon, and of course, 9/11.

Far from making America great, the war has given us over 3000 dead, and scores more permanently damaged and now dependent on the government. Shamefully ironic, they are dependent on programs for which Republicans have systematically reduced funding. And who knows if Democrats will be able to do much better since the war has also propelled our National Debt to an all time high.

Because of our massive debt, the US Dollar is in the tank. So much so that oil producing countries are making a slow but definite shift away from the dollar as their standard currency for trade. This money we use is losing its value. And so who actually finances our global folly? Foreign nations, like China.

Maybe it's not important who owns our debt, or that London will overtake New York as the financial capital of the world, but when you put it all together, along with the largest ever trade deficit with China, record breaking energy prices, and rising domestic poverty rates, you don't see an America ascending, but rather a nation in steep decline.

The people of the world recognize our slip. They saw New Orleans drown on live TV. They see us weakened by foreign policy ineptitude while Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and China have all strengthened their global positions, and done so without bloodshed.

Where our slip is most significant are the places we've abandoned, or shirked responsibility to uphold moral principle. Remember George W. Bush's initial offer of $15 million as relief for the 2004 Tsunami? (After other world leaders embarrassed us that went to $350 million.) America also embarrassed itself by fighting tooth and nail to deny global climate change, and then sending a bully to the UN as our version of 'diplomat'.

Now, when we speak of human rights to other nations of the world, we are worthy only of mockery. I'm not just referring the torture and detention of innocent people, but also about local cops falsifying evidence to harass protesters and the killing of unarmed African-Americans.

I suppose some will accuse me of blaming or hating America (which is a rhetorical technique intended to shift attention away from my critique and onto my patriotism). I do blame America, however, and I do so because it is America and our policies that continue to bring so much woe to the world. Being a superpower carries many responsibilities, and frankly, we blew it.

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