This conversation is closed.

The US must continue to lead the world.

With waning economic power, the US is in no position to lead the world politically.

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    Sep 7 2012: In what way does the US lead the world? This concept only seems popular to Americans - and also, my best phrase, "the greatest country on earth" .. . you have to laugh to that.

    America does not lead the world and she not the greatest Nation on earth - not a chance. In reality, it is the biggest problem we have on planet earth. A true evil Empire in red - that uses covert means to silent dissent, assassinate foreign leaders, cause huge social and economic damages is distant shores and overthrow government that doesn't fit with her intentions. Only a nincompoop would consider America the leader of the world or the greatest Nation on earth. More like the tyrant/oppressor who calls himself a leader.
    • Sep 7 2012: D'accord.

      Its a clear case of megalomania.

      They also think they are the freest country in the world. Always makes me laugh.

      Just Hitler thought he was the greatest leader ever and led Germany and the world into disaster, so do the US "lead" the world from one disaster to the next.
      • Sep 7 2012: Ehis/Lucas: Your gloomy views of US are subscribed to by many others. But, in fairness, one has to admit that America has contributed greatly (in technology at least) to world development t. For example, we would not be here criticizing them if not for TED and other social media.
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          Sep 7 2012: Benj, How does technological advancement make up for the evil deeds she perpetrates across the edges of planet earth? What if the internet was invented by Nazis - does it then excuse the evil deeds they conducted during second world war? This is the question you should ask yourself.

          The US has NEVER led the world politically - they kidnapped the world politically and intimidated anyone that went against them.

          I bet you think US is not am empire . .keep dancing in the dark
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          Sep 8 2012: That is more conjecture than I hear from an Apparatchik. How about some facts to go along with your conjecture?

          The U.S. has been the most free country of the past century and has raised the standard of living of the world even a 3rd world country like the U.K.
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          Sep 8 2012: Pat, what sort of facts do you want? OF USA assassination of foreign leaders??? - you want names?? Ok. In which continent and what decade - the atrocities goes all over lets have a focus.

          "the most free country of the past century " go slowly. Jim crow lasted to 1965 on paper. So to call the United states the freest country of the past century doesn't make any sense.
    • Sep 8 2012: Yes some US politicians and government entities did evil things and that has to be acknowledged and prevented in the future from happening. However claiming that US is evil ignores a long history of US fight for freedom of other nations.

      United States citizens used substantial resources to help other nations. Their soldiers gave lives in order to save people in:

      - Western Europe from Fascism and Communism

      - Bosnia Muslims from Serbian aggression

      - South Korea from communists

      - Pacific and Asia from Japanese aggression

      - Taiwan from Chinese aggression

      - to some degree Vietnamese people against Communism

      - Afghanistan from Soviet Union

      United States helped and is helping to support freedom movements around the world including China, India, Middle East (to some degree), Easter Europe and Asia.

      United States donates large amount of money to many countries including Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan to support basic infrastructure and government related projects. United States Aid program is also substantial:

      "USAID, and other foreign affairs agencies totaled approximately $39.5 billion, including $26.1 billion for Foreign Operations and Related Agencies, $11.2 billion for Department of State, and $2.2 billion for Other International Affairs."

      However I think the most important is the role US plays as an example of country where people are free, are given opportunities and independence. They are role for people all around the world. US leads the world in terms of scientific research and development. US brought to the world a way to communicate with each other through the Internet, social media like Facebook and Linked In, search engines like Google and organizations like TED and Wikipedia.

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        Sep 8 2012: The gap between slogan and reality was laid by Thomas Jefferson who proudly declared 'all men are equal' but own slaves until the day he died. That gap replayed when USA took Russia to UN for violation of human rights in the 60s, a decade after you adopted the slogan 'leader of the free world', even though jim crow was still the law of your land.

        When it comes to the evil things it is "some US politicians” but you included citizens when talking about the things you considered good. This is just to point out how caged you are in your thought .

        Yes you donated money to Egypt and then tell them what to do. You then tell them to join Israel against the Palestinians if they don't you close the tap. Foreign aid is simply a way of controlling foreign government - A TED host should know that. Any government who disagrees with the empire does not receive aid - - do they?????? so what is aid?

        USAID cannot make up for the ills that your agricultural policies are creating in poor peasantry communities - especially in Africa, It is just a way of feeling good about yourself. . we do not need any aid I would think that much is clear. That is how you control the government against the people. The so-called aid end up in Europe and America banks - - lend to Europe and America business men. . . Only an ignorant thinks aid does any good.
        • Sep 8 2012: Yes Thomas Jefferson was controversial figure with slavery but he did push for slavery to end and passed laws in that regard. Nowadays it is quite clear that slavery is wrong but context in those times was different. It was a gradual change in the society's attitude.

          Again US had its problems with human rights (racial segregation) but they were fighting for minimum freedom that people in Soviet Union did not have at all. So while blacks did have fewer rights they were in better position than people under communist rule.

          Sure some USAID efforts were politically or economically motivated. But marking all USAID as bad is absurd.

          I think many people want to blame USA for every problems they are having. I don't think that is reasonable or fair and people of each country need to also participate in finding solutions.

          It is good that you are concerned with rights and freedoms of people with African ancestry. However we also need to show concern about peoples basic rights and freedoms completely violated in communist or religious regimes.

          Many people suffer under these regimes (I lived under communism for 25 years) and women suffer the most in countries like Afghanistan when under Taliban. US help to these people is something we should acknowledge and support because these people don't deserve such suffering.

          Lets look outside of our cultural limitations and see what good things US did and continue to criticize US for any actions that are in conflict with its ideals.
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        Sep 8 2012: Some of United States foreign regime change actions

        Syria 1949- USA supported and funded Husni al-Za'im to plot a coup four years after independence .

        Iran 1953 -USA planned, funded and implemented Operation Ajax . .overthrow the democratically elected government of Iran led by Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh who had attempted to nationalize Iran's petroleum industry, threatening the profits of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company

        Guatemala 1954 -USA overthrow of the democratically elected government of Guatemala led by Jacobo Arbenz.

        Tibet 1955-70s -

        Cuba 1959 -

        Indonesia 1958 -

        Democratic Republic of the Congo 1960-65

        A democratic leader of the successful anti-colonial struggle, Patrice Émery Lumumba .. A real leader but NO he was against America interest . .. USA sponsored everything to his death - Lumumba's body was disposed of in an unmarked grave by a CIA agent . . . They handed power to Joseph Mobutu with the help of the political and military support of Western countries.

        Iraq 1960-63 -In February 1960, the United States planned a coup against the government of Iraq headed by dictator Abd al-Karim Qasim.

        Dominican Republic 1961 . .

        South Vietnam 1963

        Brazil 1964

        Ghana 1966 --Kwame Nkrumah, the first democratically elected president of Ghana and Africa by extension . . .USA removed him and installed a dictator because of his non-aligned Marxist economic perspective.

        Chile 1970-73

        Argentina 1976 - - The democratically elected government of Argentina headed by Isabel Martínez de Perón was successfully overthrown by a military putsch in March 1976, Again with the help of USA.

        Afghanistan 1979-1989

        Turkey 1980 -One day before the military coup of 12 September 1980 some 3,000 American troops of the RDF started a maneuver Anvil Express on Turkish soil

        Poland 1980-81

        Nicaragua 1981-1990

        Cambodia 1980-95

        Angola 1980s

        Philippines 1986

        Iraq 1992-1996

        Afghanistan 2001

        Iraq 2002-3

        Venezuela 2002
        • Sep 8 2012: Again some examples are valid but some are not and again we can't disregard all the good things that USA did for the world.

          Just looking at few of your examples:

          Afghanistan 1979-1989 -> USA was helping to repel communism. Their mistake was to include extremists in their effort. However their cause was just.

          Ghana - that is just a speculation

          Afghanistan 2001 - leaders of the country support terrorists and expect US not to react to catastrophic event of 9/11 ?

          Poland was under the rule of Soviet Union. What is wrong with US trying to help its people against the communist regime?

          People under any kind of non-democratic regime need our help and it is fortunate that US and other Western nations are trying to defeat those regimes. At the same time we need to make US military and politics more transparent in order to prevent SOME of the US endavours that went against its core values and beliefs.
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        Sep 8 2012: "People under any kind of non-democratic regime need our help. " I guess this sums up the conversation. Any leader that disagrees with you, in system or otherwise, the people need your help. Saudi Arabia doesn't need your help but Guatemala's democracy needed it in the 50s.

        Well i can understand you pledge since you lived under communism for 25 years and was freed by the States . .
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          Sep 9 2012: It is surely true that some people will defend a country "to the last drop" and others always paint a country or an ethnic group or a religious group or an age group... as negative "to the last drop."

          Neither extreme consistent characterization tends to be valid. What's more, holding to such caricatures stands in the way of real understanding and finding ways for different people and organizations to solve problems together.
        • Sep 13 2012: Ehis Odijie:
          Your list of countries whose regime change has been the result, directly or indirectly, of US interference - is quite credible, though I do not know have full understanding of all the cases mentioned. But if all of them were true, then the US must be the most interventionist country in recent history. And it continues today, what with Hillary Clinton traveling to all parts of the world (including the smallest island countries in the South Pacific) to proclaim US interest and right of influence. Little does US realise that it was the spreading thin by the colonial powers of yesterday that quickly saw to their demise.
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        Sep 8 2012: I so appreciate the practice of considering an issue open-mindedly. This isn't even a matter of taking a nuanced view but only trying to take a balanced view rather than painting only with the broadest and often most simplistic strokes.
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          Sep 9 2012: I think you'd find Fritzie,in life, that people often take the view that favors them. In politics the rich tend to support conservative simply because they bring favor to them.. The racist, the man with Homophobic and misogynistic outlook tend to lean toward the political right because it sometimes represent them.

          Zdenek lived under communism for 25 years and was freed by the united States - i then understand why the character decide to defend America to the last drop.
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    Sep 6 2012: Why?

    The US is mostly interested in US interests.

    They might have the most powerful military but they are not my leaders. Do you get a vote.

    Having said that I think the US have been a better superpower than most.
    • Sep 6 2012: I agree that US has been a much more benign superpower compared to colonial powers of the past. But the scenario may well change with the perceived challenge posed by fast-rising China.
  • Sep 6 2012: Hopefully the world will find a much better balance than that of following a single country.
    • Sep 6 2012: Perhaps a multipolar world might bring more peace.
  • Sep 5 2012: I doubt they lead "the world" (what they do not do in general) because of financial power. If so, there are other states on this planet, who have a much higher GDP than the US ever had, but luckily none of these ever leaded the world politics.

    I wonder why anyone is blaming the US for anything. I really would not want to live in a World where the US would not exist. There are sure lots of things to complain about, but they do not outweigh the good sides, by far not.

    I also do not believe the role of america is dependent on their financial or military power, but much more on their culture.

    Nobody forces me to use or consume american products or ideas, but i do this, simply because i like many of these products and ideas. And most people in the world do, that is why the US lead.
    • Sep 6 2012: If, according to you, America rules the world because of its (supposedly superior) culture - then you haven't seen the revolutionizing changes that are taking place in other parts of the world, in particular Asia, where home-grown culture is slowly but surely taking over.
      • Sep 6 2012: I think US culture is not superior but rather more attractive to anyone that wants to have freedom and choice. Esp. younger generations in Asia are becoming part of Global culture that more or less is driven by US media, social networks, social progress etc.
        • Sep 7 2012: The freedom to choose is ideal as far as ideals go. I'd want to look at the choices on offer. American pop culture, for example, produces car chase after car chase in every action movie, nonsensical rap in hip-hop - to name two of my favourite peeves ...
      • Sep 8 2012: See, you name it, the problem other cultures do have. While american culture seems to be future orientated, other cultures on the globe fall back on their past-which in every case, even the american, was worse than the present. That is why america led and will lead, because they look forward, not backwards.

        I do not think americans are superior, nor that anything is perfect, how could it. Specially in economical situations they are anything else than perfect, but if one dares to change, then i would consider americans to be the first who say goodbye to past mistakes and try something new.

        And about pop culture-people will watch and listen what entertains them. Every other culture could with ease overcome the american pop culture by simply offering better entertainment. But, they do not do this, even not today, where you can watch foreign media via internet. If you do not like hip hop, make better hip hop. If you do not like car chases in action movies, than you probably looked in the wrong movie genre corner, or your ideal action movie is boring.

        That is the diffrence i think. Not to critisize only, but to offer other, better options that can replace something.
        • Sep 13 2012: Lars Mews:
          1) American culture is "forward-looking" simply because it does not have the rich cultural history (as in the older cultures) to fall back on. Projecting into the future does not in itself ensure a better culture. One example, the doomsday movies - how do they help humanity think of ways to improve the world?
        • Sep 13 2012: Lars Mews:
          2) Americans, indeed, are not perfect, but you and I agree that as an economy it's very innovative. The country is also capable of re-inventing itself from time to time. However, I should like to add a word of caution here. Remember the esoteric financial instruments invented by Wall Street? Well, they nearly destroyed the entire world economy.
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    Gail .

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    Sep 5 2012: the global economic policy is a failed system. There is no political body that I know of that is in a position to lead the world. this begs the question of what leadership is anyhow. In too much of the world, leadership = oppression.
    • Sep 5 2012: Ted Lover: I concur with you that the global free trade policy as espoused by US has proven to be a sham. It has not given America the economic clout it had hoped for; on the other hand, US is accusing its major trading partners of all kinds of commercial improprieties. Having championed a cause and then attempting to abandon it - has lost US its respect in much of the rest of the world. Hence, without economic dominance and political will, US is no longer in any position (save military) to lead the world.
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    E G

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    Sep 15 2012: The US is still the biggest power of the world , at least so it seems . It doesn't mean the US leads the world , it never meant it .
  • l aresu

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    Sep 9 2012: my wish is that in the next two-three hundred years (maybe earlier) we will cease talking about leading nations, because the concept of nation will be part of history. impossible to immagine right now, but i bet this will be the path, we're just one humanity, we started together and got separated just for a long while, and we'll join again altogether some day. it's likely that the us will loose the political pre eminence they've had since the end of wwii in the next two-three decades as other parts of the world keep up developing, but the issue is: to leave this pre eminence to who/what? i'm aware and agree that the us have acted mostly to grant their self-interests as a nation (like any other nation i guess) and that this selfish behavior is strongly blameworthy, but they've also promoted some values of western civilization i'm of the opinion should be an heritage universally extended like the concept of individual freedom and democracy (though i definitely prefer the actual european point of view about these topics). i do not agree on idealistic one-sense criticism describing the us as pure evil (neither do i like their self-indulgent, paternalistic and self flattering sense of leadership), but if we had to hypothesize about an alternative, which would you pick? ussr? modern cina with no possibility to express freely your thoughts? the only one i would pick is an (at the moment) impossible politically united europe, which i consider in a comprehensive way (balancing pros and cons) the top of human civilization so far. another possibility could be an empowerment of the united nations and global organizations. we need more cooperation and common effort to solve global issues. this should be a priority.
    • Sep 11 2012: I Aresu: If world leaders and nations were as level-headed as your arguments, we wouldn't be here debating this issue.
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    • Sep 8 2012: Don Wesley: I made the opening statement to get the discussion going. I was by no means advocating US should lead the world. On the other hand, if US should one day lose its prominence in world politics, the vacuum created would just as soon be filled by some other nation. Many people are speculating it would be China - for better or for worse?
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        • Sep 11 2012: Don Wesley: Labeling peoples and nations into either "evil" or "good" resolves no issues. What would help more - debate with logic and evidence, not with emotions and taking sides.
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    Sep 6 2012: The US economic power is now 15 Trillion in the red and the President said he will add three trillion more next year. Our foreign policy is a joke and our President is called the Prince of Fools around the world. Our Secretary of State is so ineffective that our closest allies are questioning our diplomacy.

    There are many factors at work here. The US has made horriable choices in Taxation, bigger government, educational intervention, killing the work ethic, social programs, and abuses to the Constitution.

    On global issues cellphones and computers have changed the world. Countries that were once isolated are no longer closed societies. Occurances in, as an example, central Africa would have take months to reach the "outside world" are on the web in hours. The Tinnomon Square incident in China would have been a blood bath in years past. However, China was ready to burst on the world scene and could not use methods of the past.

    Germany is strong because of its leadership and economic policies. We know now that the Euro experiment was a failure. Germany did the right thing and continues to lead both economically and politically. The next world leader is projected to be China.

    Many countries, including the US, are beating up the wealthy through taxes. France is now up to 75%. These investors are taking their money to other countries and jobs will be lost and banks will not have the reserves to make loans to businesses and will soon fail.

    Under this administration the US cannot and will not lead the world. To reverse the slide into socialism and restore the government and the American dream will take other leaders a great deal of time.

    World opinion is quick to lose and hard to regain. The US will continue to be invited to global meetings based on our standings from the end of WWII and the Security Council of the UN, not because of our current status or abilities either economic or political.

    All the best. Bob.
    • Sep 7 2012: A rather dismal view of the state of US - that will not go down well with full-blooded Americans. Yet, it is not difficult to see some of your points.
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        Sep 7 2012: Benj, What is a full blooded American?

        Under our form of government is not only my right but my duty to question my government leadership. In the US we have a problem in getting different view points from the media. All of the US media except FOX is behind the current administration. To get differing views I must watch as many foreign stations as possiable and read foreign papers. I get a lot of feed back from TED also. Control of the media is dangerious to the citizens. As an example Iran, Syria, the EU crisis, etc ... have not been in the US news for a month now. It is election time and the administration does not want either our problems or the US diplomatic failures to be on the minds of the voters. They perfer that the "sheeple" just drink the cool aid and remain loyal to their desires and mandates.

        Free and honest communications and a informed citizenship are a danger to those who wish to dominate. That is why media, radio, libraries, and schools are the target of those who wish to dominate.

        I have the toughest critic in the world to face every morning. The guy I see in the mirror. He asks me if I have conducted myself with honor. It would not be honest to ignore the problems both here and abroad.

        These are my opinions and I try hard to make them as fact based as possible and as fair as possible with the information that I have available and my opinion of what the outcomes will be.

        And that my friend would be what I call and educated guess.

        Full blooded American still has me baffled. It is kind of like being pregnant ... can't be a little bit .. you either are or are not. So your either American or not. But I will go to the blood bank and top off the blood level to become "full blooded".

        Be well. Bob.
        • Sep 11 2012: You're a full-blooded American if you support US no matter if it does "good" or "evil" to other countries. Obviously, you're not full-blooded. But please, don't go to your local blood bank for a transfusion. Come to Asia, come to Africa, come the the Middle-East - to get a dose of the local plasma ...
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        Sep 11 2012: Benj, You confuse "full blooded" with "politically dominated". I support my country when it pulls a nuclear ship into your port and provides electrical power, food, medicine, water, etc ... to you in times of need. I do not support any country who enters your land and loots, pilages, rapes, etc ..

        If by your defination I must support my nation when it commits those atrocities then you win I am not full blooded and neither should anyone else support those actions.

        So Benj by your decree that "full blooded" citizens support the "good and evil" their country does to others .... The ruling government of Singapore today decided that only the children of Singapore should be allowed to live and those of Malaysia, Philipines, and Tawan must die at birth.

        Being a red blooded citizen you will cheer this action and stand proud of your government. I think not.

        Benj we are no longer able to hide the bad that lurks in the hearts of men. I love my children but I acknowledge the good and the bad. I do not support the bad actions and try to encourage the good actions. They are "full blooded" mine.

        Exactly where is it that we disagree.

        Great conversation. Thanks. Bob.
        • Sep 13 2012: Robert Winner: The term I used was meant to be judgmental. In other words, full-blooded or ultra nationalists support their country and its actions, no matter what. You are obviously not such an American. Bravo!.
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    Sep 5 2012: must - in no position ... what then?

    in my view, the US is welcome to lead whatever they like, but i don't want them to lead me
    • Sep 5 2012: Krisztian Pinter: If you do not wish for US domination over you (or your country) why is it OK for other countries to accept American leadership?
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        Sep 5 2012: everyone can choose a leader for himself. but nobody can impose his leader on others.
        • Sep 6 2012: US is insisting that China settle its territorial claims in the South China Sea without resorting to force - how do you consider this American initiative? Leadership? Interference?
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        Sep 7 2012: the US can insist on whatever they want, we don't have to care.

        however, the only valid use of violence is to stop someone initiating violence.
        • Sep 11 2012: Talking in generalities won't help your argument!
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        Sep 11 2012: everyone is free to ask for help when attacked
        everyone is free to offer help for those in need
        what else we need here?
        • Sep 13 2012: Let me help you with an example. Suppose China decided to attack Japan because Japan refused to give up some "Chinese" islands illegally given to them by US after the war. So Japan "was free to ask for help" from its ally US. US did not like China and "was free to offer help" to Japan. So WWIII got started. According to you, what else do we need here???
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        Sep 13 2012: this situation is way overcomplicated. states has no rights to anything. only people have. in this case, only the people living on that island, or using it for some reason, have a say. china can not attack japan. and if does, anyone is free to intervene, and try to stop them, by necessary counter-force. it is not warranted to attack mainland china unless there is no other way to stop chinese aggression.

        on the other hand, if some chinese people want to use the island, and they have right to do so, and say the japanese army stop them, they are free to ask china to help them. just like in the previous case, attacking japan is not an option, unless there is absolutely no other way to stop them.

        ethics is not that difficult if you have a moral compass, which is this: nobody should initiate aggression, but can use necessary aggression to defend against aggression.
  • Sep 5 2012: There was a very bad drought. Water needed to be piped in.
    The method and cost were told to the people.
    One citizen realized that if everyone in the county paid $20, the entire cost would be paid off at once.

    The Board of Supervisors turned it down, and went ahead with a 20 year bond that cost many times more
    what it really cost.

    Money from it went into their pockets for 20 years.

    In a Far East country, they needed a train. The company was chosen and the price too.
    But those in power, stole the money every year for twenty years until the Monarch finally intervened and told the corrupt officials to build it.

    They did. It took 2 years.

    People governing themselves stand a better chance of doing so successfully, without wars, than those who are currently ruining, oops, running every agency that humans have in place for their lives to work.

    The us/US is us/US. It belongs to us/US and most of us/US who aren't brainwashed want to live in peace with others, just as they do.

    Where they are leading us/US is down. Not as a power, but as a free people, and so too does the world swallow, er, follow.
    • Sep 6 2012: What is your main point?
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    • Sep 13 2012: Don Wesley
      I apologise for having given the impression that your arguments were less than sincere. My whole intention was to persuade the audience contributors and readers alike) not to label and pre-judge any nation or people as "good" or "evil". Because your "good" may be my "evil" and vice versa. I would rather prefer that "less than noble" acts committed by nations towards other countries be condemned for what they are, instead of totally denouncing that nation.
  • Sep 6 2012: Why do you think US economic power is waning? Also, why economic power determines political leadership?
    • Sep 7 2012: To me, a person, company, or nation that is heavily in debt and not likely to come out of it without declaring bankruptcy, is in definite financial (economic) decline.
      See also Robert Winner's analysis above.
      • Sep 7 2012: United States is nowhere near a bankruptcy. It is true that US politicians are playing games and are not responsible in decreasing debt, however almost every country in the world (and similarly with individuals and companies) have some kind of debt.

        It comes down to what is the debt to GDP ration (which US has still comparable to countries like Germany), its ability to cut expenses (which US can has huge room in its military and other budgets) and its economic output and outlook (again one of the top worlds economies).

        US still has very high credit ratings and overall healthy economy. It's debt level ration of public debt vs. GDP has not changed that much in the last 20 years.

        Some information about this here:

        US can pay of its debt fairly easily, it just needs it politicians to start being reasonable. Bankruptcy is not applicable to the US as of now but it could become a potential threat in a few decades.

        • Sep 11 2012: Zdenek Smith: Yes, you are right, US in nowhere near bankruptcy. Not yet. So long as it can roll over its loans again and again. Its creditors do not have much choice in transferring the US debts to other debtor nations - that's the only plus for the US budget. For now. But with the US$ fast losing its value, you won't find many nations wishing to hold on to US$ assets (debts included).
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    Sep 5 2012: The world will likely follow the country with the most influential media, and the fatest bank account, and the biggest guns(weapons).
    It's just the way it is.
    • Sep 6 2012: Th biggest guns, perhaps. But US media has long been discredited because of its one-sided reporting. Fastest bank account? Where have you been?? US is near bankruptcy!!
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    Sep 5 2012: The only reason the U.S. is/was in the lead? is because they were better at fomenting the 6 killer apps, who ever does this will be the leader.