Opinion

WALLY'S WORLD: America shaky, but still on top

America is the greatest nation on earth. This is true from almost any perspective you care to mention.

Our current economy is a bit screwed up, to say the least, but Wall Street and our international banks are still the financial bedrock for the entire world. Though a few European countries, like The Netherlands, may have a standard of living a tad higher than ours, America is at or near the top of the heap and remains the envy of all the world. Furthermore, as a direct result of our financial system, our government, corporations and everyday, middle-class citizens are among the most generous on earth. And finally, America is the most powerful military force in history; though, as aptly revealed in Vietnam and presently in Afghanistan, we have problems fighting guerrilla armies.

Given all these facts, one can readily understand why the U.S. became and remains the dominant political, cultural and military leader on the planet.   We rose to this position during World War II. However, since that conflict ended, our power and prestige has gradually, ever so gradually – at glacial speed – been wasting away. We lost considerable status when we got tangled in the Vietnam disaster. In the aftermath of 9/11, we had an opportunity to recapture some of our prominence because most of the world lined up in support of our declaration of war on Muslim extremists, but instead of leading the world in a war against al Qaida, we invaded Iraq, which hadn’t attacked us and had next to nothing to do with al Qaida.

Today, we find ourselves in some very awkward situations. Overseas, we’re bogged down in a 10-year war with the Taliban, It’s sapping our military strength, costing us billions of dollars every month and we’re not even fighting the right enemy.

On the home front, our infrastructures are collapsing, illegal aliens pour across our borders, public schools are falling apart, states face their worse fiscal crisis since the Great Depression and our national debt has ballooned to 14 trillion bucks. We seem unable to cope with any of these problems.   Hell, the House of Representatives won’t even discuss them. Instead, politicians spend their time preparing for next year’s election.

Meanwhile, the power and status of China, Brazil, India and a half-dozen other nations are growing by leaps and bounds. Not that these countries don’t have problems of their own. They surely do. But, owing to cheap labor and low taxes, their economies are expanding at astounding rates, while ours has lapsed into the worse recession we’ve ever experienced. During the last decade, China and India have nearly doubled their Gross National Product every couple of years.

Furthermore, according to testimony before our Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, the wealth accumulated in the Near East has created “a new economic world order,” Saudi Arabia and Yemen currently own more than $5 trillion in assets around the world, mostly in America. Within 10 years, their holdings could reach $20 trillion. (It’s difficult to determine just how rich some Arabian countries are because their banking practices and laws are very guarded and secretive.)

For the last several decades, America has, in many respects, been resting on its laurels, merrily running up our national debt while half the world has been struggling to avoid starvation. Perhaps the day of reckoning has arrived and it’s about to knock us down a few pegs. One thing seems crystal clear:   our children will grow up in an America that will no longer be the only dominant, unchallenged leader on the world’s stage.

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