If not the US, who?
In order to get it right, it is so important that we know what is going on now. In the midst of a pandemic, overpopulated, ever more marginalized by Global Warming, beggared with inequality, and sorely lacking leadership; the world is indeed going to hell in a handbasket.
Take a look:
An index of Fragile States:
Less than 10 States are shown as being Sustainable. A comparable number are shown not Sustainable but Stable. Together these groups, Sustainable and Stable, constitute about a third of the States. Below Stable, another one-third of the States are shown as being at Warning. The last one-third are shown to be at the Alert level. The US is barely in the top 20% on the index.
An index of Inequality:
In 2019, we were 28th out of 150 on the index.
We used to be the leader of the ‘Free World’. Is this current state of the world, in part, due to our abdication? What if some other nation takes that role? As the leader, we just may have gotten some things right. We made alliances, provided assistance, served as a role model. Today, the Greatest Nation on earth isn’t really. If not the US, then who?
— After us, who else will give so freely of their capital? —
We hear that we are not a policeman to the world, or, that at least shouldn’t be. Then who else is going to restrain Xi? Erdoğan? Putin? Who else will keep India and Pakistan from annihilating one another?
Obviously, neither India nor Pakistan is suited for the role of Leader. For all our faults, we could at least get along with most other nations. China under Xi is Israel on steroids. Xi’s China is to be whatever once was or once might have been China. Xi’s China has an emperor. Sorry, Vladimir, tsars are so yesterday and you are too long away from the revolution to be another Stalin. Your sitting on your Russian egg isn’t going to rehatch the USSR, let alone the world. Erdoğan; another would be empire rebuilder. Racip’s ambitions may equal those of the Ottoman; that’s pretty big. To the south, today’s Saudi Arabia is not that different from Twain’s; be lucky if they can get more of their $Billions of assets liquefied with IPOs before the stuff becomes worthless. See culture below.
Germany, stable, even sustainable, has known great leadership under Merkel, but Angela is about to exit the stage and anyway, England would throw a hissy. France and England are nearly as bad off for leadership as the US. The EU is bounded but would make a great ally; isn’t really geared for the role, anyway. NATO’s charter is defense but it, too, would make a great ally and probably could, if it wanted to, stretch a bit farther into Europe, the Middle-East, and Asia.
How did we get to be the leader of the free world, anyway? The term ‘Free World’, a propaganda term coined during the Cold War, referred to all non-communists nations; most of whom, other than the US, were still on their knees after 1945. Other than being the last one standing, we weren’t carrying the baggage of centuries of internecine war, had never quite achieved colonial empiricism, …, … Comparatively, we were the good guy on the white horse.
We hear a lot about superiority and inferiority, about color and race. It may well be that Culture is the biggest factor of all. Cumulative, culture is difficult to change. The return to Tsardom in Russia bespeaks an ingrained Russian Culture. The fact that today’s Chinese Communist Party is so little different from the feudal/mandarin days of yore speaks to an underlying Chinese Culture. Culture is the master we bring along. The Taliban is all about preserving an odious culture. Saudi Arabia’s MBS prefers swords for beheading and bone saws for dissecting.
A look to Latin America indicates that culture is transferable. If the Original Thirteen had been colonies of Portugal or Spain, the US would almost certainly look more like Brazil and Argentina today. For all her thievery and murder, certain aspects of British culture were superior.
In 1945, the US didn’t have that much culture. Since 1945, Germany has gone to great lengths to purge herself of some of the worst aspects of her culture. All an all, a good example for all. A unique undertaking. For example, much less a purge has taken place in Japan.
Something similar should have been followed in the US South after the US Civil War.
One might say that over the last 75 years German culture has improved, and that over the last 50 years the US culture has deteriorated/regressed. Leadership was bestowed on us by default; we were the less corrupt, the less laden with history.
It is possible to imagine a world without leadership. One where neighbors could invade one another and claim territory, grab natural resources. Actually, – we saw quite a lot of that in the 1980s and 2001-2007; so there is no need to call on imagination. Something had changed. By 1972, America’s oft misdiagnosed decline was well underway. This decline, misdiagnoses included, continues.
Will there be a period like the one that followed the fall of Rome? Will the world now see centuries like those seen by Europe after the fall of the Western Roman Empire?
What of a world with China as ‘World Leader’? What of racism, xenophobism, in such a world? What of concern for human rights? Civil Rights? China cheats. What of corruption? Would a ‘World Leader’ China send millions of Han to Africa and then claim it a part of China? We may well find out.
Truman knew, we know, this is a role for the United Nations. It is its charter; sa raison d’être. Possibly, if only they hadn’t hamstrung it so from the start with the Security Council, if it had been adequately funded, … it could have better stepped in to administer failed states, adjudicated overthrows of duly elected governments, war crimes, … Definitely worth another look. Rather than tear it down and start all over again; fix it. A critical need, becoming more critical by the day.
Maybe someday soon, America will again find another Abraham Lincoln, another Franklin Delano Roosevelt.