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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The American Era

leadership or predominant influence exercised by one nation over others, as in a confederation.
This recent media phenomenon is characterized by stories of "the rise of the rest", namely rising powers such as China and India. How does anyone forecast a shift in power such as this? Pretty close to impossible. What then is leadership? Is it the power to resolve any global dilemma? It seems as though the more powerful  the United States becomes, the greater the number of problems we are expected to solve-an elevating standard for what it takes to be a dominant power.  The US did not fare well in Vietnam and failed to overthrow Fidel Castro yet we have maintained our leadership in spite of these events. Failure in Iraq or Afghanistan does not forecast complete doom.
What makes the odds even better are that the US spends close to four percent  of its GDP on the military and invests large sums of capital in military research and development. Additionally, we have established military presence in all regions of the globe-cementing US influence everywhere. 
China and Japan hold a large portion of the debt of the US and are dependent on exports to the United States. They must continue purchasing American dollars to ensure their currencies are weak against it, so they maintain competitive export potential. 
Globalization strengthens not weakens US power. American universities attract the best minds from all over the world, creating an innovative and highly adaptive society. We are the head of the world's most popular political philosophy-democracy-as reinforced by His Holiness The Dalai Lama on his recent meeting with President Obama.
Things will go wrong as they sometimes do. But no one failure internationally is enough to topple the gigantic lead in power that the United States possesses both militarily and economically. 
Even powerful autocratic nations must at least pay lip service to our democratic ideals such as voting and human rights.
If the US can convince other nations to comply with our wishes, we can lower the costs of shaping the global stage to reflect our interests.