Shayne Hughes

The End of ‘Parent’ Status for America

Date April 9, 2007

Of course, no can predict for sure what future is like and how the past will be remembered and analyze. That’s probably why it’s fun to do it.

I believe Bush Jr’s election and choices in his governance will mark a turn in American’s history. That could be true in a lot of ways and I could develop this in many directions. I will focus on the US as a parent, a mentor, a force of stability.

The US has been seen by many as the hero of WWII, bringing an end to the tyranny of Nazi Germany, and helping the reconstruction of Europe with Marshall’s plan. Since then the image they conveyed in most of the developed world has been one of world police. Many citizens of these countries would at times make fun about the US, bad mouth the Americans, disagree with some of their choices, criticize some of their policy, French President De Gaulles even precipitated the end of the fixed changes based on gold and dollars but nonetheless the US was in the end always respected and looked up to, almost as if it was a parent of the world. The fact that the US was the biggest nuclear and military in the world was a source of security. In other words, the US was a moral authority.

Then came 9/11. The reaction of a huge part of the majority of the world was by and large supportive of the US, even in most Muslim countries. Demonstrations of support were happening all over the world. No one really knew what to do or how to react. We looked up at the US leadership for that inspired guidance. We were in a new area. After 50 years of cold war, there was no more big bad enemy. The world wasn’t divided in 2 camps anymore. So many new possibilities were opening.

Today we are back in a dual divided world. The US is plunging in to debt and very vulnerable for it, stuck in a military swamp in Iraq and the image of America is at the lowest in every country in the world including in Europe that is supposed to be its most precious ally. A big part of this situation is the result of Bush’s decisions, which he supported as a response to 9/11. Well if you respond to violence by violence, and especially if you do it while everyone thinks it’s unjustified, if you work around the Geneva Accords and authorize practices border line torturous, if you allow for people to be arrested without due process, naming them unlawful combatants, you are not a moral authority anymore. You are one of the participants in the problem who needs to be kept in check. I expect more from an adult who shows wise leadership and discernment than to qualify entire countries as being good or bad, part of an “axis of evil,” and qualify people freedom-haters, especially after revoking some of the basic rights of freedom like the Habeas Corpus.

So the US is not the revered as a moral authority anymore. If anything it’s perceived today as a bully, driven by self-interest and unable to make wise decisions. And that mainly because of the way that George W. Bush expresses himself in the media, and approaches (or doesn’t) diplomacy, cooperation and dialogue.

But the bigger point is that I believe America has lost its status “forever.” It may rebuild its image to one of a partner at the table but it will probably never benefit from the same trust that it once had. I am not saying it’s a bad thing, it might be healthier that way. Maybe one country shouldn’t have that much power and responsibility. Or maybe we have just reached the time where there is no one parent anymore but all countries must be considered a adults and equal in their participation in all negotiations. Or it might just be time to start considering a president of the world?! Today we have many important global decisions and the US is not the leader in that realm (take global warming and the Kyoto threaty as an example).

I just hope that the American people can become aware of the failure of the system and its disastrous consequences of the past years, and rethink its internal political structure. We can’t expect one man – the president – to have so much power, or (and?) we would need for that person to be extremely evolved, intelligent, skilled in discernment, wise, knowledgeable about history and its lessons, caring for all people on the planet and more; we would need to create some exam to verify these skills that every candidate need to pass before being eligible. The elections rely on the current mix of vague action plan (which no president has to be accountable for) and charisma. Because one of the lessons of GW Bush’s election is that there is actually too much at stake for the world to take the risk of electing a president that isn’t skilled enough.

In the end it might just be that we really need to find a better balance in leadership in the world. There is no empire that lasted for the ever from the ancient time to the current times, whether it was based on physical domination of population or more currently the colonial system. France and England were among the biggest players in the world at the turn of the 20th century controlling countries all over Africa and Asia, Spain was a huge force before that. Who today sees these countries today as setting world policy? One could easily look at the trend and evaluate that US hegemony is coming to an end.

In some ways this might be the time to think of a system where there is not one country that is in the parent role anymore.


One Response to “The End of ‘Parent’ Status for America”

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