Austin Kiesewetter

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Are you comfortable in a world in which the United States is not the largest global super power?

If we are leaving an American era and entering an era dominated by new superpower states in China, Brazil, and elsewhere, should Americans be concerned? Or is pride the only thing at stake? Can Americans be safe on an international stage no longer dominated by their interests?

  • Jan 15 2012: 'Are you comfortable in a world in which the United States is not the largest global super power?'

    I think everyone outside of America is uncomfortable in a world where they ARE the largest global super power...

    America's ability to sustain its top rank for this long is truly a miracle of itself. The country has been ravaged by corporate interests and the federal reserve which has acted as nothing but a cash cow to the 1%, plagued by an ever corrupted political system at every level, an almost non-stop war campaign on everything that walks, created a world of enemies for the most asinine of reasons, internal missions like the war on drugs and privatized prisons which have taken giant budget slices day after day, year after year and have NEVER accomplished anything, placed several million of its citizens in prison, written up a trillion bills and acts that would make the founding fathers hang themselves and somehow maintained a country with some of the truly lowest societal intellectual levels this side of the Sahara that would make even the camels think they have a legitimate shot at running the department of Education.

    America has played an almost life-long role at maintaining dominance through oligarchy and bullying and how it wasn't turned into a smoking wasteland (either by themselves or everyone else on the planet) 50 years earlier is beyond me, its quite likely that the world will flourish after its demise rather than cause a concern.
    The only thing for certain is that a rouge republic with a truly deplorable kill streak is on its way out and the world will probably be alot better off for it.
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    Jan 20 2012: Hi Austin,
    Interesting question:>)
    As an American, and a citizen of the global community, I am comfortable in how the world is evolving. As I have traveled many less developed countries, I realized that the USA was maybe a "super power" because we had more material wealth? Or because we had military forces? Or because we led the world in economics? Whatever the reason for our percieved "super power" seems to be failing, and has been for a long time. As I traveled in less developed countries, I noticed that they had something we, in the USA, did not have. We are one of the most abundant countries in the world, and yet, we have the highest rate of depression, highest rate of suicide, alcohol and drug addictions, etc. Most people in this so called "super power", are searching for something beyond what is percieved as power. You ask, Austin, "is pride the only thing at stake?" I ask another question....pride in what? What have we (USA) created to be proud of? We are the largest users of natural resources. We seem to be a country which cares less about our environment, and more about the wealth we accumulate? I know there are many people in the USA who are aware and consciencious about our environment, and I believe I am one of them. As a whole, however, sometimes, I am not proud of our contribution to the global community. Yes, I believe we can be "safe" on an international stage no longer dominated by their(our) interests because sometimes, I think/feel that many people from different cultures in our world are more understanding and compassionate than we (US citizens) are. Thanks for asking the question Austin.
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      Jan 20 2012: Thank you for your well thought response. There are some things I think Americans can be proud of. We're the big leader in foreign aid to developing countries, are we not?
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        Jan 20 2012: There are some things we can be proud of, and that's why I said "there are many people in the USA who are aware and consciencious".

        You say we are "the big leader in foreign aid to developing countries..."
        Yes, in a way. If you look deeply into our contribution, under the guise of "aid to developing countries", however, you may find that the underlying reason for the "aid" was to "aid our own interests? We provided aids vaccinations to Africa, for example, and we later found out that it was all an experiment in testing new aids vaccinations. The people in Africa we provided the "aid" to, didn't know they were being used for trials. They thought they were getting help from the USA, when in fact, they were being used by USA drug companies for "testing" purposes. That's just one little thing of course, and there are many situations that were promoted as "aid" to a certain country, when, in fact, it was for our own interests. And, I say this is just "one little thing". It is NOT a little thing to those people who were used inappropriately.
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          Jan 21 2012: Are those AIDS vaccine trials representative of foreign aid to Africa as a whole?
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        Jan 21 2012: Hi Austin,
        I think it may be a fair representation of some of the things the USA and some other countries may do as "aid to developing countries". To provide appropriate aid, we need to be more aware of what the country actually needs, and how we can support the country with genuine intention. I think too many times, we give them what WE think they need, or give something that actually benefits our own needs, and we're often not paying attention to how we can support them in taking care of themselves for the long term. You know the old saying..."give a man a fish and he feeds his family for the day...give him a fishing pole, and he can feed the family for the long term:>)

        That reminds me of another conversation on TED quite some time ago where that saying came up in relation to a similar topic. A man from Africa commented, saying "we know how to fish, but the USA, because of what they are developing here, prevent us from getting to the water". That man was very articulate and in my opinion, said it very well.

        I am not proud of our country when we impose our beliefs and needs on other countries. I am proud of our country when we actually listen and respond to the needs of other countries without misrepresentation.
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    Jan 20 2012: Am I comfortable with it? Very.

    I'm also not American so weight it how you will.
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    Jan 16 2012: I think Americans will find this shift more alarming than other nations. It will need a psychological readjustment for many across America.

    No nation in history has held the top global position for longer than a few centuries. Taking European history as an example, dominant powers have included Ancient Greece, Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Holy Roman Empire, Ottoman and Austrian Empires and this is before we start on the colonial period when Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands and Britain etc started their overseas expeditions. The largest and most dominant global power was the British Empire. In 1897, at its height, no one would have been able to imagine a superpower greater than Britain - yet only 50 years later, from 1945 onwards, the empire was relinquished as Britain contracted back to home territory. The USA picked up the baton. Now China and India are rising and they will become the power houses of the 21 century. It's exciting - we have a lot to learn from each other. Passing the baton on is not the end of the world! I don’t think young Americans have much to fear about this shift - the majority of you will continue to be vastly more wealthy and privileged than the majority of humanity - and the USA will continue to be a major player on the world stage for many decades to come. I see a more equitable world order emerging which has to be good for everyone.
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    Jan 21 2012: My ex-father-in-law, now deceased, was a member of the ruling class of the last "Super Power", The United Kingdom.

    He was the District Commissioner in Tanganyika (now Tanzania.)

    Until his death, only a few years ago, he still believed he was a member of the "Greatest Nation on Earth." He did not acknowledge that Britain's time had passed.

    Did the shift in power affect the average "Brit?"

    I don't think so.

    We all live our lives out in the circumstance we find ourselves. We adapt and we adjust.

    "Countries" do not exist except in our collective imaginations - there is no "line on the ground" that separates The United States from Canada, or Mexico.

    The (imagined) United States' Star is fading. Or perhaps other (imagined) stars are just becoming brighter (probably a bit of both.)

    You'll still live out your life, probably get married, have kids, work, play, struggle, rejoice, and so on.

    I find most nation's self-image - as evidenced in their history books and media - to be aggrandized.
  • Jan 20 2012: I am uncomfortable with the fact that Americans feel they are the center of the world. With their need to meddle in other nation's problems. And it also scares me how ignorant Americans are of the world around them.
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    Jan 15 2012: I believe that US will remain the global power for a while. It will be on the top but the difference would be that it would be sharing the top. Countries like India, Brazil and China will become global powers and they ALONG USA shape the world in 21st century. And this multi-polar world will do good for all because there will be a balance of power, no war will be possible. Also since the US has good relationships with the three countries there won't be a cold war situation.
    What would change is that the common American would soon be the same as a common Indian as it would have to face the same rise in oil prices which the US has been evading till now.
    Moreover the US government should encourage the change in global structure as when countries like China and India become powerful the good in US will become a lot cheaper.
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    Jan 15 2012: Yes. Is the US the only source of intelligence. History is written by the dominate and the victors of wars. We have led through the expendature of mass amounts of cash to the world. Guess what it did not work. The US still does business on the basis that they can buy loyality. The phrase "Ugly American" does have merit. It is time for us to realign our thought process and our foreign policies. We have always believed that the world should follow us perhaps it is time for us to join the world without retribution or cultural changes being demanded. Our ego may get bruised. Good. Time for Hillary to be an ambassador of Good Will. That she is not a policy maker has become evident to the world. That the rest of the world calls our President the prince of fools shows the respect that nations have for our administration and us as a country. The real question is can the US regain respect and a leadership position.