Ignorance and arrogance may cost America’s world leadership

The USA may become a second- rate power. Why? It’s the result of two words – ignorance and arrogance. When people are ignorant, they make stupid mistakes. When people are ignorant and arrogant they make Himalayan mistakes.
The United States, under the Bush Administration, is doing both remarkably well. America has done fairly well after WW II – it provided prudent leadership and maintained the balance of power around the world pretty well.
The Civil Rights Movement and the Immigration Reform Act in the 1960s made America an appealing country to non-European immigrants. Racism in American politics and immigration policies became part of our history.
England and France become second rated power because history wanted it. Third Reich and Soviet Union become second rated power (vanished power) because history forced them, due to their stupidity and arrogance.
America will become less powerful (become part of multi-polar world) in the future anyway because of the evolutionary process – as other countries and regions are booming economically, educationally and technologically. But the Bush Administration is accelerating this process by stupidity and arrogance.
In a global survey, most countries believed that China would act more responsibly in the world than the United States. Fareed Zakaria argued this phenomenon as a result of America being perceived as too arrogant, uncaring and insensitive, and countries around the world believe that the United States, obsessed with its own notions of terrorism, has stopped listening to the rest of the world.
A country is like a human being. If the mind gets rotten, everything else will follow. Leaders in a society are like the mind in a body.
What we see in America is blatant disregard for fairness by our leaders – both political and business. We need a country where leaders are effective and fair minded. They should take the whole population under consideration. Our leaders are not concerned about common people’s agony and pain. Political leaders and business leaders are busy for their selfish ends. Only the leaders in local communities, and selfless volunteers around America are our best hope.
We want to see an America – where common people have a stake and they are part in the decision making process. In this context, we need to creatively think about fixing and upgrading our democratic institutions. Our democratic institutions are, in some sense, outdated. Common citizens’ needs are not served well with our traditional systems.
Decisions are being made in Washington, DC and state capitals – mostly has nothing to do with the common people’s needs. It’s the powerful people whose interest is served first, and only then common people come in line. That’s why we have around 50 million people without health care coverage, and one out of five children does not have guaranteed health care access. It does not fit the image of the richest nation on the planet.
We don’t have guaranteed access to basic needs like food, shelter, health care and retirement for our citizens. What we have spent in the Iraq war so far ($400 billion plus) could solve our Social Security funding deficit for 75 years.
The insurance and drug industry is obsessed with the current broken health care system. Even though all the studies indicated government sponsored Medicaid and Medicare administering cost is only 3-5% compared to private insurance 25-30%, the US Congress and the Executive Branch of the United States could not come up with any universal health care model in the last 30 years because insurance and drug industry lobbyists are vehemently opposed to it. This is mind-boggling. In this age of internet and open flow of information we are the only industrialized nation without universal health care.
America can’t continue to be a super power by power alone. American values have made America great and admired. American values of fairness and hard work have been emulated around the world. European countries have become better countries over the years in terms of fulfilling the basic needs of the common citizens. On the other hand, America has fallen back because we have pursed silly policies. Our priorities are in the wrong order.
We are too proud to learn from other countries, too ignorant to understand the truth, and too arrogant to consider other people’s sensitivities. We are weakening ourselves with our own deeds.
If we don’t change our course of action shortly, history will be unkind to us.Nasir Ahmed is a Grambling State public administration professor.