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A View from the Left: Are Our Days as a Superpower Over?


February 13, 2012 by Richard Drake

Numerous national political commentators such as Zakaria Fareed, Tim Rutten and Mortimer Zuckerman have suggested that the United States’ reign as the world’s number one superpower is coming to a close. Do you agree? What will America’s role be in this century?

Growing up as I did, the son of a member of the United States military, I have given this question a lot of thought over the years. The truth is, even as military brats in the 1970s, we would debate the question in school, wondering what it meant to be a superpower in the modern world.

The current pack of GOP presidential candidates are doing what Republicans have done best in recent years — making people afraid. Because not only does Barack Obama want to turn America into another Europe (you know, the place where they are instituting austerity pro- grams that are the dreams of most conservatives, and failing badly at it) but he is also making our nation into some third- world backwater, a place only fit for illegal immigrants to come and have babies.

Former candidate Michelle Bachmann claimed that Obama’s leadership has pushed us close to losing our role as a superpower, which she said would under- mine our military strength and compromise national security.

Mitt Romney promises that the 21st Century will be an “American Century,” something which will be very good news for anyone on this planet who isn’t actually American. Newt Gingrich? Well, after Moonbase Alpha becomes our newest state, we’d really run things, wouldn’t we?

Are these people running for president of the United States, or Plato’s Cloud Cookoo Land? When I talk to most people, this is what I take away: they are not concerned with our being a superpower, but simply with economic and social fairness and justice. They want jobs. Most don’t care if we have more jobs than any other country in

the world; they just want jobs enough to satisfy the needs and wants of all Americans.

They want the price of college education to go down.

Those doing the “Superpower Dance” around the country, going through the same tired routines, are treating their audiences as though they are buffoons. They would like us to forget the harsh realities of the superpower game.

Other counties don’t just sit back and say, “Oh, look, America is rattling its mili- tary and economic sabers again. We had better know our place.”

No, where you have one superpower, you will have others who will compete. A new arms race will ensue.

Contrary to some fantasies, it wasn’t Ronald Reagan who brought down the Soviet Union; their need to be a global superpower (and the increased spending required) brought them down. Just a quick Google search tells us that there are so many nations about to blossom into superpowerhood. Do we re- ally want to compete with, and dominate, so many nations all at once? Jingoism — “America: Love it or Leave it” — makes an unpleasant return. We look upon the rest of the world with distrust.

Which brings me back to the debates we had in high school, so long ago. Being American is more than just about our military or our economy. It is also about our soul, our ideas, our diversity, our opportunities for all.

The United States should look to improve our country economically, but as for the military fantasies of people who never lived through the Cold War? Forget about it. Been there, done that.

Read Mike Landry’s response, a view from the right, here

Richard Drake

Richard S. Drake has been writing about political and cultural affairs in Northwest Arkansas for 20 years. The author of Freedom Run a science fiction novel, he can also be followed on Facebook and Twitter. He can be contacted at:

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