For the most part, we seem to witness an almost incessant stream of news pertaining to divisions amongst Americans, and their political leaders, in relation to Iraq and how to deal with the terror threat. I am specifically highlighting a growing consensus that the Bush administration has blundered with its handling of the war; this in itself is not a new phenomenon. Of note however, disapproval, rates have augmented alarmingly on a worldwide level with anti-American views becoming entrenched throughout and even within western democracies modeled on the United States.
American foreign policymakers have more than once - regardless of administration and political factors – made mistakes. Errors that have resulted in the nation appearing arrogant and, in the case of the current administration, seem unilateralist. It is often overlooked that such misjudgments, real or perceived, are constants in a historical context. I feel satisfied too add, that even the worst of decisions are made with good intentions in mind. It is unfortunate and inevitable, that sometimes the quest to safeguard American ideals the world over, causes such problems and, notwithstanding this inescapability, U.S. policymakers must strive to do better.
Those governing in Washington face challenging and ever changing global conditions within a newly inter-dependant and integrated world. The ending of the cold war left Washington weakened in terms of how best to interact with, and shape a globe having lost an enemy that defined its - America's - role through ideological difference.
These are not the worst times America has faced in recent modern history, as testing as current events and adversaries (Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, The Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other radical Sunni Muslim organizations, Hamas to name a few) may be, let us not forget, but reflect upon America’s enemies during the Second World War and the threat of nuclear annihilation between 1948 prior to the demise of the Soviet Union and its eastern bloc allies. I would venture to suggest that our planet is better today than it has ever been. We reside in a world of unprecedented economic growth, with increased opportunities, longer life spans and, in spite of some well-documented frightful events and threats, people are generally safer.
Washington needs to take stock, gaze at the big picture, and embark on micro managing its foreign relations within a framework that acknowledges past mistakes and misunderstandings, considering its position and judgments and ensuing policies in the context of normal human fallibilities. This requires constantly re-creating and managing systems of governance and policymaking in accordance with time honored principles. Managing its relationship with the world and its nations should not be viewed with an, ‘our way or the highway’ viewpoint but within a balanced process; one that incorporates unending evaluation and re-evaluation with established checks and balances such as those already built within systems of governance. With proper implementation as achieved through sound leadership, this need not result in what Colin Powell would refer to as, ‘analysis-paralysis’ in the decision making process.
I feel compelled to make a final point relating to its (Americas) people. The public would serve their nation better if it stood to be counted and sought greater interest and understanding of their countries role in a global/international community as leaders of the free world. A suitably educated public will go a long way to safeguarding and conserving America in future. I say again, listen up policymakers of America, an educated, conservative, and more articulate populace is America’s best defense against the looming challenges of a new century.
The traditional leadership staircase model tells us that the higher the intelligence and moral standings of a constituency the higher the resultant standards of conduct and effectiveness of the legislature who serves it.
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