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. 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?
I forgot to post this one the other day:
President Bush on Saturday further cemented his legacy of fighting for strong executive powers, using his veto to shut down a Congressional effort to limit the Central Intelligence Agency’s latitude to subject terrorism suspects to harsh interrogation techniques.
Mr. Bush vetoed a bill that would have explicitly prohibited the agency from using interrogation methods like waterboarding, a technique in which restrained prisoners are threatened with drowning and that has been the subject of intense criticism at home and abroad. Many such techniques are prohibited by the military and law enforcement agencies.
Mr. Bush announced the veto in the usual format of his weekly radio address, which is distributed to stations across the country each Saturday. He unflinchingly defended an interrogation program that has prompted critics to accuse him not only of authorizing torture previously but also of refusing to ban it in the future. “Because the danger remains, we need to ensure our intelligence officials have all the tools they need to stop the terrorists,” he said.
And of course, Bush promises to veto:
The US House of Representatives has approved a bill that would ban the CIA from using harsh interrogation techniques such as simulated drowning.
The measure would require intelligence agencies to follow the rules adopted by the US Army, which forbid such methods, and to abide by the Geneva Conventions.
President George Bush has threatened to veto the bill if the Senate passes it.
As presidents go, Bush has been one of the most sparing in his use of the veto. So he must only use it when it really matters, when it’s vital to our nation’s interests that Congress doesn’t mess something up really bad. Let’s take a look at the list so far: Continue reading