Dateline Washington DC- The self-esteem and conscience of a nation are reflected in its leadership. From President Obama’s infamous “you didn’t build that” to his condemnation of America’s use of atomic weapons that ended World War II, one has to wonder if Obama believes in anything American.
The US developed a superior political and economic model that works for Americans and it is emulated and admired by many peoples around the world. That does not mean it is perfect, far from it, but one cannot deny it has been effective in promoting individual initiative.
America became the preeminent economic power of the world because “Yankee Ingenuity” (sorry Captain Smith of Atlanta) proved it could build stuff better and could penetrate any foreign barriers to selling its products. Americans were willing to go anywhere and do anything to open markets for US products. Americans were not simply a colonial power that exploited the resources of our colonials, Americans were competitors that refused to lose or be beaten.
The American Constitution limits our Army, but fortuitously underscores the importance of a Navy and maritime industry to a nation that is surrounded not by one, but two great oceans. Prior to WW II America was a reluctant player in international political meddling and nation building. Our first president, George Washington, warned the citizenry of entangling foreign alliances that produced perpetual war.
America had no problem meddling with corrupt governments in the Western Hemisphere, but had no appetite for nation building. The country’s purpose was to foster and protect American trading interests around the globe.
It was not until after the Second World War that America assumed the mantle of the former colonial powers of Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia and Japan. Those nations were devastated by war and American leaders saw an opportunity (encouraged by the deposed colonialists) to try and restore a semblance of world order. But that order had faded like the First World War photos it tried to replace. In spite of history, America leaders opted for the restoration of the old world order thereby destroying the fledgling self-rule movements that rose in the collapse of colonialism.
The world changed after two world wars and a cold war as the nationalists sought to impose self-rule in their nations based on their own values and customs.
A quick glance at the world map of a pre-WW1 and a post-Cold War world clearly illustrates changes in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Conversely, the Western Hemisphere has remained basically intact geographically, but it has been finding its way through revolution and evolution into nation states.
Perhaps it is time to recognize that the US is neither the model for nation building nor the architect. The American model is not a perfect fit for everyone. People throughout the world differ by custom, religion, economic and political experience that demand different solutions to their problems some of which Americans may see as dangerous or imprudent. But the idea of human rights and civil rights are elitist ideals that thrive only when there is economic stability and political debate. Food, shelter, and stability are the mainstay of most people around the world.
By seeking to end human suffering from hunger, disease, fear, and corruption instead of trying to force our structure upon the world, the US model may become much more influential on how people choose to be governed. It is not any more advantageous to the rank and file to force democracy on a people by military force that disrupts their world than it is for them to live in peace under dictatorship.
Most people do not seek war and conquest, political leaders do. Most people are fully consumed with the daily effort of living and providing better lives for their loved ones. It is a hard sell to say the destruction of ancestral homes, the reduction of populations to refugee status, and production of endless war makes for a better life. Individuals must be free to determine how best to govern themselves – Americans’ fought a revolution for that privilege.
Colonel William O’Brien contributed to this story