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Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 49, November 27, 2010

America’s Quest for Global Dominance

Wednesday 1 December 2010


by Tarun Patnaik

America, the land of opportunities, of free private enterprise, of individual freedom, promises and appeals to the aspiration of many international citizens to come and seek to make their abode in the US. This is the place where ideas are respected and valued and one can prosper because of the quality of one’s mind. That is a matter of prestige for the American people. An example would be Bill Gates’ dramatic rise to prominence and wealth for the ideas he had and the effort he put to contribute to global development. Also the good work he is doing through the Gates Foundation wins the love, appreciation and gratitude of much of the world. So it is the people of America who have created its status.

Post-Soviet Union collapse, in the unipolar world, there is in the minds of America’s statesmen the quest for global dominance. But what do the US politicians understand by global domination? Whether it is to be able to dictate terms to foreign states using their military might and economic prowess or to make wars and create instability and overthrow governments or alternatively it is to be loved by all, to win the admiration and respect of others is a question about which the American politicians and leaders need to think deeply.

In its foreign policy, there have been some very disastrous mistakes which we shall briefly touch upon.

Over the last few years, the United States has done more damage to its own cause than in any previous period. The aspiration of the United States for global dominance has failed to materialise and has become elusive because of its own actions and the decisions made by its leaders. If President Obama and Secretary of State Ms Hillary Clinton have an urgent task in their role in global affairs, it is to reduce enmity and antagonism between the world’s peoples. The United States has been engaging with foreign states but not with the more important global citizens. And it has through its hard foreign policy been able to tarnish its image abroad in the eyes of the common people of the world.

Power only aspires for and inspires more power, leading to the creation of conflict of interest. It is character and virtue that inspire admiration. And that is what the United States has lost in its pursuance of its less understood objective. The vision of its leaders is short-sighted and selfish. A selfish person thinks of promoting self-interest, but lacks the wisdom to do it.

SO what needs to be done? How can America improve its image? How can it win the love of the world?

Definitely by creating a pleasant personality and publicising its face and mind to the world. Personality is judged by the actions taken by the person.

The US needs to reach out to the Islamic world and make clear that it needs them for pursuance of world peace and not through bullets and bombs. A handshake requires first an extended hand. And America needs to extend its hand of friendship. It needs to remove suspicion and fear from the minds of the peoples of the world about its intentions by clarifying its global objective not merely by stating it but by backing it through sustained action.

Terrorists are able to recruit terrorists because there is ample hatred against the Americans. American people have become the victims and scapegoats of the American state to deserve this hatred.

The US pours billions of dollars into Pakistan to win its support in the cause against terrorists, but it is also Pakistan where terrorists are trained and it is a breeding ground for potential terrorists. If only the US spent the money not to arm the Pakistani military but to change the education system of Pakistan, if only America aimed at bringing about a cultural transfor-mation in Pakistan, much of its task could have easily been accomplished. Military men do not know how to change hearts. It is the teachers who lead the mind and heart of future citizens. Basic living conditions are necessary for leading a happy life. The economic policy of Pakistan should be addressed to eradicate the poverty of its citizens. And the US can influence such a policy.

The ISI is a major miscreant in shaping the Pakistani political mind. It is neither trustworthy nor accountable to even Pakistan’s own govern-ment. They run their own empire. And their cultured attitude towards non-Islamists is one of aversion. The ISI should be left to the CIA in the short run, and the Pakistani civilian govern-ment should be enabled to rein it in.

Another failure of the American foreign policy is in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The reason for such a long drawn conflict is because there is power struggle but justice has not been sought. America blindly supports the Israeli aspiration for dominance over the region. No people should desire domination and power over another people. If Israel realises this basic human nature and inculcates some virtue to its character, things could be simpler. Political solution is possible but there should be a willingness by both parties to compromise. It needs two to reach a satisfactory and acceptable solution. One-sided activity is not a recipe for solution of political struggles.

Ms Clinton has great responsibilities to win the love of the world and she will need all the wisdom. And the less she relies on military might the better would it be for America.

While not to have enemies abroad is a necessary condition, it is not sufficient for winning the admiration of the world.

A country should have shared prosperity, happy and free citizens, and it must stand united with the world to solve international problems. Humanity today has many challenges and aspirations and United States needs to take leadership to meet these challenges and aspirations.

Climate change, energy crisis, frequent economic crisis, political crisis in many countries, environmental protection are some of the global problems which need special attention and serious thought and effort to meet. Among global aspirations are friendly relationship among nations, progress in science and technology, empowerment of the global citizen or individual, a liberal political atmosphere and the security of all nations.

The United States needs to take the world along with it by building global institutions and global values to meet these challenges and aspirations. And America’s leadership needs to be democratic where each nation has freedom, security and dignity.

President Obama while addressing domestic issues has to undertake global leadership in this direction.

POLITICAL empowerment of the ordinary citizens is a delusion in the US. One has only to read Chomsky’s Manufactured Consent to comprehend the reality. This will need to change.

There is still poverty in the United States and a high level of economic inequality due to the capitalistic model of the American economy, which needs to learn from the social democratic economies to be able to overcome these deficiencies, though the social security system and the principle of welfare state has helped in this direction.

What is wrong with the values of the American people? The individuals lack cooperation with one another. The state can only, to a limited extent, cement the people. If the people are not united to find happiness in each other’s pros-perity, a very important human value will be missing in the heart of the American.

For global security, the US has to make up for its disastrous invention of the nuclear weapon. Now at least it needs to take the leadership for discouraging the manufacture of and research for weapons of mass destruction. We should seek a world free of nuclear weapons. And minimum defence expenditure. When people are dying of hunger, there is hardly any rationale for spending on bullets and bombs.

America needs to strengthen its stature by strengthening its virtues and values and through providing leadership to close the gap between nations and peoples. The leaders of the US need to understand the merit of shared happiness and work in this direction. While the US has many strengths, it still needs to learn a lot from other countries and the history of individual nations and thinkers of global stature. It needs to inculcate some positive values in the individual like Mahatma Gandhi’s principle of non-violence which is a must for continued global peace

There is a need to change the people and the institutions for making civilisational progress. If America wants to ensure its global prominence and retain its status as a global leader, it must take the above steps for winning the admiration of the global people.

The author can be reached at tarunpat1971

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