America must always lead on the world stage...The military is...and always will be the backbone of that leadership...The United States will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it.--Barack Obama at West Point. May 28, 2014
In fiction, people who want to rule the world are depicted as megalomaniacal villains. In real life, though, Americans take it as normal when their politicians, pundits and militarists endlessly tout the necessity of U.S. “leadership” over the other 95 percent of humanity. Neither do they get alarmed when their president says that their military (meaning endless war) is their main means of global dominance. Quite the opposite: the nation’s conservative majority and a good part of its liberal minority remain unabashed jingoes no matter how many wars we lose.
U.S. claims to be humanity’s honcho don’t have much resonance beyond our borders. The other 95 percent is moving, however fitfully, towards a multi-polar world. Big grown-up countries like China, Brazil, India, Russia and Germany see no reason to be led. Smaller countries are getting together in regional groupings and find little need for a godfather.
Not only is the other 95 percent getting more independent, the U.S. is becoming actually and relatively weaker. We’ve done some incredibly self-destructive things in recent decades: starting pointless, losing and debilitating wars, shifting from making things to manipulating money, gutting public services, dumbing down education, and, weirdly and uniquely, hosting the growth of a popular movement denouncing science, the basis of modern civilization.
When your population leads the globe in prison inmates, obesity and debt, when you get trounced in wars by medieval tribes, and when your political and civic systems no longer function while avoidable disasters pile up, you’re not the kind of country other nations will obey, let alone emulate. Just ask the Taliban.
Back in another era, a typical form of lunacy was pretending to be Napoleon, who also sought to rule the world. I don’t know but wouldn’t be surprised if those deluded with grandeur nowadays see Obama as their model.