several stories that I called "The West in Flames" or,
many nights, "The United States in Flames." The film,
lifted from Western broadcasts, was all fire, flood and plague
in democratic, capitalist countries. Believing Russians, the few,
must have gone to bed thinking they would wake up to unconditional
Western surrender in the Cold War. The opposite happened, of course.
But the news
in Europe, West and East, is still showing America in flames,
flood, etc. Cities are shown underwater; befuddled American officials
are shown trying to explain why we are actually winning the war
on terrorism, the war for a free Iraq and a modern Afghanistan.
They also try to ignore or explain the torture of Muslim prisoners
in concentration camps, indicted members of Congress and reporters
thrown in jail.
I'm afraid. The president of the United States is uniformly projected
as a fool, anti-freedom, anti-science, anti-common sense. Sometimes
unwitting, sometimes witting.
is dead by most definitions, except for the one used to describe
both the Soviet Union and the United States in the good old days
-- that is, possession of huge stores of weapons of mass destruction.
Luckily, most of those mocking us and our works night after night
have not reached the point of suggesting we are going to use those
weapons. They are pretty useless right now.
model lasted little more than a decade. In fact, when a single
superpower is mentioned around here, folks are often talking about
China rather than the USA.
one thinks of President George W. Bush and his unilateralist crew,
most of the people laughing at us do not think we are evil. What
they think is that we are naive and incompetent.
But, at the
same time, belief in a single superpower means that a nation (ours)
is held responsible for not having or using powerful tools to
do something about the bad things coming from the sky and Earth
these days. It is perfectly obvious that no one nor any single
country can save the world from the horrors of tsunamis, hurricanes,
earthquakes and winged influenza.
answer to those doubts and complaints is that people suffer, and
probably deserve to, because they will not follow our dictates;
for some reason they are reluctant to become like us. The latest
bone in the world's throat, barely reported in the United States,
is the U.S. vote against a "cultural diversity" agreement
last week at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization to promote local languages and cultures in the face
of "globalization," the flat-Earth phenomenon that we
interpret as speaking English and bending to the significant power
of market capitalism. Only one other country voted no. That was
Israel, the 51st state, and, as often is the case, it is sometimes
difficult to tell whether they are voting with us or we are voting
It is not
really our fault that superpower is waning. It just happens that
we are still fighting the last war. The new war of more generalized
threats to countries and regions requires different strategies
than ballistic missiles and economic pressures. The distressing
events of these past weeks require new thinking. A world relatively
free of war needs quick responses to both regional military threats
and natural disasters.
way is to create response armies and teams on an international
scale. That would seem to be a proper role for the United Nations
or some other international grouping. But that is not going to
happen because the United States is not about to give up the old
dream of single well-meaning superpower, which we worked and fought
and sacrificed to win -- only to win a mess of pottage, only to
become another former superpower.