Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by NathanHale, Apr 25, 2011.
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I read FP myself and have to admit that this was quite a refreshing change of pace. It strikes me as a remarkably clear piece of thinking, shorn of the complacent assumptions of 'place' that have clouded not just American but most Western national policies.
While I agree with much of the analysis, I'd like to comment from a professional perspective that the authors have fallen into the same trap of 'silo-ing' foreign and domestic policy when they talk about improvements to Higher Education. I think they've hit the nail on the head about the importance of it but have overlooked the inter/trans-nationalisation of education and research in the modern world - the law of unintended consequences could mean that it gets ever-harder to limit the results of the research and the benefits of robust and effective education to your own country when large parts of it are carried out in collaboration with institutions elsewhere using their people and resources.
Certainly, the US moral authority and therefore leadership position could be greatly enhanced by e.g. making better use of resources itself. It's far too easy at present for recalcitrant developing nations of BRIC to dismiss US appeals as 'Don't do what I do, do what I say'. It's a basic principle of leadership that you have to hold yourself to higher standards than you do the led and if you're not prepared to then just wanting to be the leader won't cut it.
Renouncing language like 'full-spectrum dominance' would help, too. Regardless of the intent, it comes across as supremely arrogant and tends to make even the kindly-disposed nations of the world wonder about intentions and where their own wants and needs fit in to that world-view. Accepting that other nations have different priorities and that these need to be accommodated in any stable international structure rather than insisting that 'you're either with us or against us' might not be a perfect situation from an ideological point of view, but when has the world ever been perfect?
However, this runs firmly against the doctrine of American Exceptionalism that runs as a common thread throughout their culture, and came from the Founding Fathers. It is this doctrine (and hence their "world-view") that limits their ability to take their place alongside other countries as opposed to "leading" them.
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