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Middle aged heterosexual, WASP male. Semi retired, semi-sane and semi-serious. And endangered species and I'm not going quietly!!!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

America Is a Force for Good!

In spite of what the perception of the United States is amongst some countries, and contrary to the awful headlines, the United States is steadily making the world a better place in which to live!

Guest Post BY MARGARET WENTE; in the Canadian Edition of Readers Digest!

These are grim times for America’s reputation. It is the most hated country in the world.

It’s widely regarded as, at best, a bully whose recklessness and arrogance have drained its moral authority—and, at worst, an evil empire that flouts international law and insists on imposing its will on everybody else. Its president is a dim-witted cowboy, its politics are poisonous, and its people are fat, uncultured spendthrifts.

But contrary to the awful headlines and the international disdain, the United States is steadily making the world a spectacularly better place to live!

If you want to meet people who actually like America, try a Starbucks in Beijing.

Beijing has almost as many Starbucks as Seattle, and they’re crammed with young, global-minded Chinese people eager to practise their English.

English is taught in many schools there, because it’s the language of science, commerce—and the future. Chinese officials believe their educational system, in which students don’t dare challenge the teacher, is too rigid.

They’re desperately trying to change it so that students will become more creative—like the Americans.

Off India’s southern coast of Kerala, where fishermen have been plying their trade for centuries, a new technology is changing lives.

Cellphones allow fishermen to check the market price for their catch at different ports, so they can net the best deal. Some fishermen have doubled their profit.

The cellphone grew out of the fertile brain of Martin Cooper, an American who worked for Motorola. It was based on technology developed over decades by American scientists.

Today, millions of people in rural economies around the globe have leap-frogged landlines entirely and gone cellular. American know-how has improved their lives and connected them to the world.

The Chinese are crazy about cellphones, and theirs are more advanced than ours. Now they’re manufacturing them and selling back to us. That’s globalization, the great liberalization of trade, which we owe to the leadership of the United States.

“Thanks to the dynamism of international capitalism, all but the poorest people in the world have significantly more purchasing power than their grandfathers dared dream of,” writes British historian Niall Ferguson.

Everybody knows the United States is the engine of the world economy—it produces about 30 percent of the world’s gross domestic product—but not everybody knows it’s the biggest customer by far of goods from developing nations.

If trade ever slowed or stopped, those nations would be devastated.

The historic gulf between the haves and the have-nots is narrowing because of American economic liberalism. As Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, put it, “The poor are poor not because of too much globalization but because of too little.”

These days the Unites States is reviled for its military adventurism, which has brought it to such grief in Iraq. But it’s also the world’s policeman, and very few nations want it to give up that role.

We need a “globocop,” and for now and the foreseeable future, the U.S.—not the UN—is it.

It’s U.S. military power that helps keep order in the world. Overwhelming U.S. might is what keeps the oil flowing. Oil is the lifeblood of every nation’s economy, and without it they’d collapse.

America has waded into trouble spots—Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, Somalia—where others fear to tread; not because it had anything to gain, but because it wanted to restore order and get out.

During the Bosnian slaughter in the 1990s, the UN merely looked on; the United States had the moral courage to act.
It has also taken the lead in combatting the greatest threat the world faces today: the spread of nuclear weapons to rogue states and terrorists.

Meantime, American-style democracy is spreading—look at Central and South America.

In one generation, that continent has undergone an astonishing transformation from dictatorships to democracies.

Democracy (even if only in name) is now the form of government preferred by most people in the world. People today aren’t just richer than their grandfathers, they have more political power, too.

But perhaps the greatest gift from the United States to the rest of the world is its enormous dynamism, inventive genius and human talent.

From cellphones and the mainstreaming of the Internet to life-saving medicines, America is the motherlode of transformative technologies.

It attracts and nurtures the best in nearly every field, turning knowledge into new products and processes that enrich our lives.

It’s the place where a geeky university dropout became the richest man on the globe and then decided to give US$25 billion away.

Bill Gates’s capitalist-style philanthropy promises to transform the world as much as his software has. He is focused on international assistance to the very poorest.

At the top of his ambitious list is a cure for malaria, the scourge that kills one million people every year. A generation from now, maybe sooner, countless kids across Africa will be alive—and healthier—because of Gates.

These stories about America are not fashionable. But their truths are enduring. Of course America can be a reckless, blundering bully.

But if you add up the pluses and minuses, you might well conclude that what the world needs is not less America but more.

Allan W Janssen is the author of The Plain Truth About God-101 (what the church doesn't want you to know!) www.God-101.com

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