Saturday, July 01, 2006

Who or what drives America?

Over the past decade or more, US assets have progressively passed into the hands of foreign interests. In the Age of Globalization this of itself is no reason for concern, let alone for any kind of xenophobic reflex. Capital must flow, and the greatest profits are reaped by those most successful. The United States themselves are champion of competition. Hence, nothing wrong.

Of course, this development requires a significant adjustment in the mindset of most US citizens, and it is clear from events in the recent past, such as the near take over by Dubai Arabs of the New York harbor (or something to that effect), that for many this involves a painful process. And let’s see what really will happen with Kerkorian's suggestion to have GM combine forces with French Renault and Japanese Nissan – a proposal which makes all the business sense in the world.

At another level, one would expect the Government to change its mindset. I do not think I get it wrong by stating that at present the main thrust of US foreign policy – i.e. the billions spent in Iraq – in fact is financed by, let’s say, the rest of the world. This is not a subject for outright exaggeration, but broadly speaking the current US economy is largely kept afloat by other nations who – at least so far – have sufficient confidence in the US economy over the longer term to allow for a considerable measure of financial trust.

Politically speaking however, the rest of the world is at great odds with the prevailing US attitudes. And I think most of us have come to the point where we simply hope for the best once the current presidency is over.

Whatever might have been said at the time of the War on Iraq, surely after 2008 it can not be a simple ‘who is not supporting us, is against us’. Financial resources will most definitely not be there anymore to support such ongoing arrogance and US self centeredness. There will be much less acceptance in Europe of another France or Germany bashing next time around.

There are those who say: next time around, it will be China who will be in the world’s driving seat. I do not believe that. Or at least I do not think this is the only plausible scenario.

The key problem is that our global political institutions, designed to forge alliances and to foster peace and prosperity, by and large do not fit our future world. I do agree with the US Government that the United Nations system has become obsolete, almost beyond repair. But it needs to be replaced by another, stronger system of international co-operation, it should not be abandoned altogether. Another case is the NATO. In my opinion we should get rid of this organization as soon as possible, and never again have separate political and military systems for consultation and co-operation.

I would urge all sensible US citizens, all sensible politicians, Democrat and Republican, to seriously re-evaluate who and what should drive America in the future.


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