Monday, December 27, 2004

"A country that makes a film like 'Star Wars' deserves to rule the world."

That audacious statement leads off this piece by David Sands in the Washington Times. (Hat tip: Cheat Seeking Missiles)
Love it, hate it, embrace it, deny it, American power, American influence and American values are the defining features of today's interconnected world.

Questions of an American "empire" — whether we have one, whether we want one, whether we can afford or keep one — aren't just the white-hot topic of the day among statesmen and political scientists.

The world really is becoming more "American."

The pervasive pull of American ideals, popular culture and media, and economic opportunity works in mysterious counterpoint, and not always harmoniously, with overwhelming U.S. military might and diplomatic clout.

Perhaps the above is obvious. Though I quibble with this statement:
"You cannot imagine the impact of the American election in Europe," Italian religious philosopher and politician Rocco Buttiglione says during a recent Washington visit.

"America is modernity, and what takes place in America today will take place in Europe in 10, 15 or 20 years," he says. "The Europeans, all of a sudden, had to discover that America is religious, that ethical issues are relevant to politics."

I don't doubt that Europeans were shocked by our election results. But while it would be wonderful if Europe begins to adopt American ideals and values, I don't see it happening. Europe would have to "get over itself" first.

The article speaks mostly of America's "soft power" arising from the exportation of our "democratic ideals and entrepreneurial ingenuity to language, sports and popular culture." What seems to be missing in this examination, however, is the exportation of democracy itself to places like Afghanistan and Iraq. Freedom, liberty, and "power to the people" may begin to catch on in places that have never experienced it before, thanks to what we've done in the middle east in the last couple of years. If so, it won't be that America "rules the world," so much as that we show the people of the world how to rule themselves.

Laer at Cheat Seeking Missiles writes:
The standardization that is McDonalds, Home Depot and Borders may be chilling for some, but it also represents not just the perfecting of a concept far above what the world has ever expected, but also the ability to successfully replicate it.

Things like standardization and abundance drive my Internationalist mother and brother nuts. I remember my brother saying, "Who needs 35 kinds of cupcakes?" as a damning indictment of all things American after he was overseas for a number of years. Well, we Americans seem to, and the fact that we can choose between Ho-Ho, Moon Pies, Twinkies and Snow-Balls is as American as 12 apple pie choices.


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