Who’s George Friedman? Among other things he may be considered America’s chief strategist. He is, CEO and CIO (Chief Intelligence Officer) of STRATFOR, a global intelligence company he founded in 1996.
Since its inception, STRATFOR has published a daily intelligence briefing which is read by the key leadership of most countries and larger companies across the globe. STRATFOR’s client list is confidential, but the company’s publicity list includes Fortune 500 companies and international government agencies.
“I invite readers to consider two themes,” he relates in Author’s Note of his 2011 published book: The Next Decade.
“The first is the concept of the unintended empire. I argue that the United States has become an empire, not because it intended to, but because history has worked out that way. The issue of whether the United States should be an empire is meaningless. It is an empire.”
If you ask most Americans what they think of their country, they will not be concerned with our geopolitical dominance however. In fact many would appear apologetic about America’s forward leaning stance on the issues and affairs of other nations. By polling data, most Americans are opposed to our interference in almost every conflict since and including the Vietnam war.
What they are more concerned about is our weakened economy, jobs, healthcare, the future of our children’s education, the stalemate and largess of both Republicans and Democrats; but mostly, we are concerned with our own affairs. Not world domination.
If you ask people from other countries what they think about Americans, many say they think we are overweight, boorish and stupid. They complain about us being the bully in the Middle East, government corruption and the selfishness of our wealthy. But another poll reveals a more poignant opinion – most want to come to America. In fact an overwhelming percentage of people from abroad want to leave their country of birth and become American citizens.
Fully 25% of the world’s economy is directly dependent on the United States. And the US Navy guarantees a right of passage for the majority of commerce conducted across any ocean under any flag. The American military is feared and yet the victims of any natural disaster, anywhere in the world, welcome the sight our Navy appearing over the horizon; coming to their rescue.
Time after time the United States has subsidised the lion’s share of cost to help victims of earthquakes, tsunamis, plagues, and starvation. Even private citizens of America donate hard-earned cash for relief to strangers in other countries. School children break into their piggy-banks, actors and musicians throw relief concerts and telethons to give millions in financial aid.
Many point to things wrong with America and indeed, shameful things one can attribute to a rather small minority of Americans. It’s easy to point out the flaws of those who tower above others, whether out of fear or envy and intended or not. But it is just as petty to fail to acknowledge that, where broader generosity and an unswerving dedication to principles of personal freedom are concerned and more often than not at a cost paid in blood, the world has no greater friend than America.
What’s up with America? We are the new adolescent as world empires go. We need to accept our responsibilities as the preeminent leader and stop apologizing for our foibles and inevitable mistakes of youth. Again, according to George Friedman:
“…if the United States intends to retain its size, wealth, and power, the only option is to learn how to manage its disruptive influence maturely. Until the empire is recognized for what it is, it is difficult to have a coherent public discussion of its usefulness, its painfulness and, above all, its inevitability. Unrivaled power is dangerous enough, but unrivaled power that is oblivious is like a rampaging elephant.”
We’re a young country still. Often misjudged as a petulant “sleeping giant”, throwing a tantrum when we are awakened from our frequent naps between missed opportunities in foreign policy making. If anything we are still a gentle giant seeking to find our stride in a world that can only watch us apprehensively, as we have the reputation for clumsily falling on them once in a while.