SPECIAL TO THINK & ASK
As Russia and Eastern Europe were adjusting to the economic and social changes thrust upon them, the West, led by the United States, began an era of unprecedented prosperity. While Africa’s AIDS pandemic expanded, and the environmental threats to civilization worsened, the United States found itself fighting a war in Iraq to drive Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, an oil-rich neighbor nation. Stopping short of ousting the tyrant, the Persian Gulf War was never the less deemed a victory and the United States began a series of interventions often supported by the United Nations and NATO to insure the autonomy of nations and the prevention of regional war.
As the second Clinton administration neared its end, the United States was enjoying an economic boom benefiting corporations, private investors, and the economy as a whole; but did little to advance the public good for improvements in healthcare, education, or poverty-reduction.
In the world at large, the new world order seemed murky and confusing with regional conflicts abounding under an ineffective system for keeping them in check. Terrorism was on the rise and many countries ravaged by the Cold War found themselves ruled by the fundamentalist regimes once supported by the United States to achieve its Cold War aims.
September 11, 2001, changed everything. President George W Bush’s administration found itself at a turning point in history, and reacted by creating a new enemy and world order that used fear and manipulation at home, and brute force abroad to achieve its goals. Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda became household names as the United States began its attack on Afghanistan.
The ruling Taliban lost, and the rebuilding of a nation began. The Bush administration’s foreign policy team then turned its effort into shaping world politics and opinion by media manipulation and propaganda --that talked of the global terror threat-- using ambiguous terms like terrorists, the enemy, the evil ones, terror cells, and fundamentalists. The axis of evil including Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, were deemed the most pressing threats to the United States and to world stability as the CIA and newly created Homeland Security began the hunt for terror.
As of this writing, the United States has gone from a beacon of hope and prosperity in the world into a greedy nation, feared and despised by many. An unjustified war in Iraq is still being waged on what were false pretenses and the citizens of the United States have reelected an administration that believes the only good is the expansion of political power and influence regardless of the means used to achieve that objective.
Domestically, the United States is undergoing a crisis in healthcare, Social Security, and it faces a growing deficit from foreign policy overstretch which will hurt the way of life at home more than any Middle East dictator ever could.
The solutions to the world problems must be inherently complex, because the world faces a myriad of complex problems: Economic, social, and environmental. The United States remains the only superpower for the time being (although China is quickly catching up) in terms of economic power. Accordingly, the United States has an important leadership role to play, one that should lead cooperation between civilized nations with and emphasis on human rights, the reduction of poverty and disease, and sound environmental policy, as well as political peace.
September 11 went from a tragedy into an excuse to forcibly exert United States power on a world that opposed use of force. Osama bin Laden remains at large, and the thousands of innocent lives lost in Iraq cast an ominous shadow on this so-called war of liberation. Meanwhile, poverty, human rights violations, and environmental crisis, including global warming, are proceeding with undue attention from the global leader.
In election years, the president and administration spend so much time fundraising and trying to be re-elected, that policy goals are often put aside and neglected. The need to secure power to exert influence is more important. In the world today, the United States is losing influence as nations like China, Russia, and others prosper and gain power. In an attempt to preemptively secure power, the Bush administration has sought energy (oil) to secure its position as the world superpower. This is a narrow and treacherous position to be in that ultimately may indeed provide the United States with a consistent supply of oil during the next century but at the cost of the values and beliefs that it was founded upon.
If the United States is worried about the loss of influence, it should look to strengthening the global institutions --United Nations and International Courts-- that will ensure a balanced and just world for generations to come.
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