I meant to post this thought-provoking article yesterday, but just remembered it now. It’s an interesting and insightful look into how America fits into the world – and how that has changed a lot over the last few years. While Americans still consider much of the rest of the world to be “anti-American,” in reality, they’re “post-American” – they’re just, like, totally over us.
Look around. The world’s tallest building is in Taipei, and will soon be in Dubai. Its largest publicly traded company is in Beijing. Its biggest refinery is being constructed in India. Its largest passenger airplane is built in Europe. The largest investment fund on the planet is in Abu Dhabi; the biggest movie industry is Bollywood, not Hollywood. Once quintessentially American icons have been usurped by the natives. The largest Ferris wheel is in Singapore. The largest casino is in Macao, which overtook Las Vegas in gambling revenues last year. America no longer dominates even its favorite sport, shopping. The Mall of America in Minnesota once boasted that it was the largest shopping mall in the world. Today it wouldn’t make the top ten. In the most recent rankings, only two of the world’s ten richest people are American. These lists are arbitrary and a bit silly, but consider that only ten years ago, the United States would have serenely topped almost every one of these categories.
The article’s not all doom and gloom; he points out the positive aspects of this global shift:
The post-American world is naturally an unsettling prospect for Americans, but it should not be. This will not be a world defined by the decline of America but rather the rise of everyone else. It is the result of a series of positive trends that have been progressing over the last 20 years, trends that have created an international climate of unprecedented peace and prosperity.
I know. That’s not the world that people perceive. We are told that we live in dark, dangerous times. Terrorism, rogue states, nuclear proliferation, financial panics, recession, outsourcing, and illegal immigrants all loom large in the national discourse. Al Qaeda, Iran, North Korea, China, Russia are all threats in some way or another. But just how violent is today’s world, really?
FRONTLINE does yet another great job as one of the only remaining investigative journalism outfit in America. It’s kind of like Sicko without the persuasive slant, though it is done in an editorial/feature style. You can watch it entirely online (because PBS is awesome), and there’s even a little bonus footage at the end where he explores Ayurvedic medicine. One of the great things about watching Frontline online is the little text popups that link to informative pages, such as this one, that contained a few very interesting graphs (click for bigger):
You’ll notice that the US spends far more money to far less effect than the other nations gathered in these charts (data gathered from a 2007 report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)). Another really interesting section is on how different countries compensate doctors and deal with malpractice. I thought the author made a really excellent point when he said that the current presidential candidates are mentioning health care reform, but not one is referring to how we can emulate more effective systems from other parts of the world.
Recently uncovered evidence shows that at the highest level of American leadership there were plans to spark Palestinian civil war. Read more in Vanity Fair’s The Gaza Bombshell: Politics & Power:
After failing to anticipate Hamas’s victory over Fatah in the 2006 Palestinian election, the White House cooked up yet another scandalously covert and self-defeating Middle East debacle: part Iran-contra, part Bay of Pigs. With confidential documents, corroborated by outraged former and current U.S. officials, David Rose reveals how President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Deputy National-Security Adviser Elliott Abrams backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever.
If we expect leaders of other nations to be held to international law, we should expect the same scrutiny for our own leaders. I would love to see the lot of them facing a tribunal in The Hague; there must be some kind of consequences for these types of actions, some kind of justice.
Asked whether the American commanders on the scene were right in not attacking the Iranian boats, Mr Huckabee said he backed their decisions, before warning Iran: “Be prepared, first, to put your sights on the American vessel. And then be prepared that the next thing you see will be the gates of Hell, because that is exactly what you will see after that.”
Fred Thompson, the former Tennessee senator and Law & Order star who is banking all on victory in South Carolina to revive his campaign, said of the Iranian boat crews: “I think one more step and they would have been introduced to those virgins that they’re looking forward to seeing.” The crowd cheered.