Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Countries Which Lead

Today is the day for wide-ranging goddess posts. Probably because it is so very humid. In any case, I saved this story about how people all over the world rate various countries, because it woke up one of those humidity-related deep thoughts in me. Here's the summary of the survey:

Anti-American sentiments are on the rise in many parts of the world, driven by concerns that U.S. leaders are prone to act unilaterally and have widened the gap between rich and poor nations, a new international survey found.
At the same time, global attitudes about China have also declined, with residents of many countries expressing concerns about China's growing economic and military power, the survey concluded.
The survey of 45,239 people in 47 countries by the Washington-based Pew Research Center found ``worldwide support'' for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and substantial opposition to U.S. and NATO military operations in Afghanistan.
``There is a question as to whether we are living up to our own values, which is what is making people question what our policies are,'' former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said at a news conference today announcing the poll's findings.
America's image ``has plummeted throughout much of the world'' over the last five years, the center said in its report on the survey, which was conducted April 6 through May 29.
It found ``sharp drops in favorability among traditional allies in Western Europe, as well as substantial declines in Latin America, the Middle East and elsewhere.''

Note that the United States is the greatest military power on earth and that China is the rising economic power. Also the factory of the rest of the world, right now, with minimal quality controls. And neither of these countries currently seems to care about the rest of humanity at all. Both are pursuing quasi-imperialist policies and navel-gazing. Both sound a little militaristic.

The easiest way I can think of this is with the parable of a school class. There are the wealthy kids who might be cool and admired, because they treat others well and offer leadership. Or they might be the class bullies, using their position and wealth to get even more from others while telling them what to do. To me the U.S. and China, too, look a lot more like class bullies right now. That's what the opinions reflect.

I think the world is quite leaderless right now, in the good sense of leadership.