AMERICA'S STANDING IN THE WORLD
By Alan Caruba
All nations act upon what they believe to be their best interests and those interests are often shaped by their political philosophy. These things are subject to change. For example, there are some 200 sovereign national and multinational states in the world today. Of these, 120 are multi-party constitutional democracies. Compare this with 1970, when there were fewer than 35 nations that were not dictatorships, each operating as an autocracy (absolute rule by one person) or as an oligarchy (absolute rule by the few). The constitutional democracies of the world were islands in a tremendous sea of authoritarianism -- a sea of tyranny comprising authoritarian states of the older, more traditional type, as well as totalitarian or highly authoritarian states operating under the iron fist of the single-party rule of Communism.
One might conclude from this that constitutional democracy is catching on around the world and that, in this new century, most people want some form of constitutional representative government for their nation.
This is what inspires Buddhist monks to risk their lives to march against the military dictators in Burma (now Myanmar). This is what provokes outrage in the former Soviet state of Georgia when the rule of law is suspended or, most dramatically, when lawyers and judges, along with others, pour into the streets of Pakistan when its President seeks to extend his term in office by declaring an emergency and martial law. It’s thousands of Venezuelans filling the streets to try to stop the dictatorial ambitions of Hugo Chavez.
Where did these nations and people learn about constitutional democracy and representative government? For the most part, the United States of America has been both the example and the instrument for the spread of these concepts.
The American Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution are studied by foreigners, as well as by Americans, to learn the basic principles of self-rule and proper governance “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
So, when Democrats cry out that America’s image has been tarnished by the decision to rid the Middle East of a threat to every other nation in the region — Saddam Hussein and his Baathist government — I suspect the leaders of the nations most threatened greeted the U.S. decision with relief. As to the “Arab street,” the print and broadcast media in many nations of the Middle Eastern region are aggressively anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, anti-Western, and anti-American.
An agreement between the Bush administration and the Iraqi government will ensure a drawdown of our troops there and the long term billeting of 50,000. Iraq is on its way to being a modern, democratic nation. Our common enemy, al-Qa'ida, has been targeted for elimination and, when Iraq’s oil contributes more fully to the global market, watch the price of a barrel drop in response.
Who, then, openly despises the United States of America? Hugo Chavez, a aspiring autocrat of Venezuela, for one. Recently, the King of Spain told him bluntly to “shut up.”
Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is a vocal opponent of America, but much of his nation’s population would, if they could, rid themselves of the ayatollahs and embrace America as an ally.
Vladimir Putin, successor to the leaders of the former Soviet Union, sees America as an obstacle to his ambitions to restore Russia to superpower status. A recent visit to Iran, however, disabused him of the notion that he was dealing with rational leaders there.
In contrast, the new President of France, Nicholas Sarkozy, recently gave a stirring speech to the U.S. Congress, praising the role of America in the world. Indeed, throughout Europe, the protection that America still extends to that continent is appreciated and many, if only symbolically, sent contingents of military to support our efforts to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban and to assist in Iraq.
Asia recognizes the role America still plays in the support of constitutional democracy for its nations and the protection of its sea-lanes upon which they depend for the import and export of goods and raw materials. Having fostered constitutional democracy in Japan following World War II, that nation is quietly assuming a comparable role in the protection of constitutional democracy, building a modern military, after decades of reluctance to accept that necessity.
While North Korea remains a prison to its people, South Korea is a thriving democratic state. China remains Communist, but has accepted Capitalism as its economic engine and will open its doors still further to the world for the 2008 Olympics.
Perhaps, the best measure of confidence in America is the direct foreign investment (FDI) in our nation. U.S. Department of State figures, as of 2004, reveal that, as of three years ago, FDI was $1.5 trillion on a historical cost basis or, as of 2006, $2.7 trillion at market value of publicly traded firms. European firms accounted for 70% of FDI, followed by Asia and Pacific firms. Hardly a day goes by without reports of new foreign investment.
The greatest critics of America are often Americans, forever striving to improve every sector of its national life. America is not above criticism, but it remains the nation that is, by far, the most dynamic, most innovative, most devoted to the rule of law and equality for all its citizens.
Americans need not worry much about “restoring” our standing among the nations of the world. We are held in very good standing, thank you.
U.S. National Security Strategy
American Foreign Policy -- Constitutional Democracy:
U.S. Promotion of Constitutional Democracy in Foreign Countries
American Foreign Policy -- The Middle East
Alan Caruba is a veteran business and science writer, a Public Relations Counselor, and Founder of the National Anxiety Center, a clearinghouse for information about media-driven scare campaigns. Caruba writes a weekly commentary, "Warning Signs," posted on the Internet website of the National Anxiety Center, which is located at www.anxietycenter.com.
Caruba has a daily blog at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com.
Caruba’s new book, Right Answers: Separating Fact from Fantasy, has been published by Merril Press.
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