The power of the United States is unique in world history. Though the U.S. is one nation among 191, our economy constitutes 25% of the world’s economy. We have more military power and spend more on our military than all other nations combined. Including the Iraq War, our military spending is eight times greater than that of the second-biggest spender, Russia. It seems only natural to expect a democracy with such overwhelming power to lead the world and be in the vanguard of global progress on numerous fronts. Yet there is a profound and growing problem with American leadership in the world. More often than not, U.S. foreign policy since the end of the Cold War has been either backward or bullying or both, slowing global progress on multiple fronts and often instilling fear and loathing in the populations and leaders of other countries, including our allies. We think of ourselves as a leader, but often we are a "leader" with no followers and many resentful detractors. We have alienated our allies and intensified the hatred of our enemies. We have provided powerful new incentives to anti-American terrorists. There is a huge and widening gap between our values and our international behavior.
American citizens and traditions value human rights, enshrined in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution, yet our leaders have refused to ratify two great human rights treaties of the past two decades, the treaties on the rights of women and of children. We stand alone among democracies in rejecting them. Our people and our traditions value impartial justice, yet American leaders have rejected a new International Criminal Court and engaged in a campaign to coerce other nations to exempt our citizens from its jurisdiction. We make war on this Court despite rock-solid protections against political abuse built into its charter by American negotiators. We are concerned about protecting the environment on which our lives and economy depend, but our leaders have rejected a major treaty on global warming and promoted policies that lead to continued pollution of the earth’s atmosphere at a rate that is clearly not sustainable. We believe in peace but our leaders have rejected, withdrawn from, or violated a series of arms control treaties, balked at paying our dues to the UN for over a decade, and launched an unnecessary war against a country that was not a genuine threat to the U.S. The cost to the U.S. in lives, tax dollars, and credibility is immense.
America the Almighty is about these gaps between our noble and sensible values and our self-defeating foreign policy, how they came about, and what American citizens can do to change the picture.
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