The fate of one of the most powerful nations in the history of humanity will be decided In the next elections. The juncture is marked by a deep crisis that crosses all strata of North American society, and on whose solution depends, not only of the luck of the country, but of course, the route that will be taken by other forces that determine the new global order today. The following article offers a timely reflection on various unavoidable aspects at this point.
The United States remains the greatest power on the planet but its relative weight in the world economy has been declining consistently. The planet is becoming multinational in economic terms but the military power of the U.S. remains undeniable. While no longer able to compete commercially with many countries in a myriad of products, it can still crush whomsoever in military terms.
The great economic and military power of the U.S. is inversely proportional to its social legitimacy in the eyes of most of humanity. On this front, the U.S. faces a multitude of dilemmas. The trends in the U.S. economy, although its weight has decreased in relative terms, continue to affect the planet. It is the largest debtor in the world and largely depends on the collective decisions of China, Japan and the European Union, plus the economies of India and Brazil are beginning to weigh in.
The dollar has stopped being the extra-strong currency that it was until the early Seventies. China is accumulating the largest monetary reserves in the world, with more than one trillion dollars. If all the developed countries were to bail out on a significant part of a currency that is in decline, everyone would come out losing, because the world economy would enter into a recession of unpredictable magnitude. So, among all of the aforementioned countries, they continue maintaining a U.S. economy that is damaging the entire world economy.
It is a knot that no one can undo at will. The “natural” evolution of the economy seems to drive it, at any rate, to a global crisis, from which will result another economy with a correlation of forces between the powers, distinct, but today, unpredictable. There will be, yes, a distinct international monetary system. This happened with the crisis of the monetary system known as the gold standard in the Twenties. It ceased to function and the world had international payment problems for nearly three decades, until the end of the Second World War when the United States emerged as the undisputed powerhouse. In 1945, its industrial production was higher than that of the rest of the world. For that reason, it could impose the dollar as the means of international payment. That only worked well until approximately 1970 but today still remains the primary means of payment amid a continuing instability.
The next president will have to reach an agreement with the rest of the powers to change the international financial system. But, in this agreement, the United States would necessarily fade into a secondary role. That is why this country hasn’t responded to the demands of the world to reform the international financial system. Will the next president do this, or will he leave things to run their uncertain course and its inevitable crisis?
In the Seventies, the first thing that globalized was precisely this international financial system. Banks of all countries can act in all countries. It was not like that until 1970. Before, there were national restrictions that permitted maintenance of a certain stable exchange rate in the world. After, many things globalized, industrial production, for example. A simple shirt, for example, could have a history behind it that involved the productive intervention of millions of workers in many countries. Communications went global and the consumerist ethos of the United States was exported even to China. The changes multiplied. India today trains more doctors in all specialties than Europe across-the-board. Bangalore, the Indian city for scientific research, is becoming more important than the Silicon Valley and many American researchers have moved from Silicon to Bangalore.
This globalized economy has led to the global warming of the planet. Since the Eighties, we’re living in a techno-scientific revolution that has produced more changes than all those that have occurred in previous history of mankind. The developed countries have created unimaginable wealth. But, this has been accompanied by the worst social inequality of all time, reproduced in multiple dimensions; not only the rich countries versus the poor ones, but within both the rich and the poor ones themselves, inequality has increased as never before. Today the United States has within itself an internal Third World.
The institutions that have been devoted to humanity, in order to organize it and coexist, have a high degree of obsolescence. This is happening with the UN and its dozens of agencies for every imaginable topic. It’s also occurring with the International Monetary Fund or with the World Bank, with the World Health Organization or the International Labor Organization. All the world problems ordinarily addressed by those organizations constitute very serious unresolved problems. The Security Council of the UN must maintain peace in the world, something that the world not known since time immemorial.
Habeas Corpus is a judicial institution that guarantees the civil right of the individual to avoid arbitrary arrest and detention. It’s based on the obligation to present all detainees before a judge within 24 hours. For his part, the judge could order immediate release if suffi cient grounds for arrest are not found. In the country of freedom—as the United States has seen itself—this fundamental institution has been virtually eliminated from the American Dream after 9-11. Civil rights have been suppressed to a great extent and today anyone can be stopped by a police authority without any arrest warrant.
The new president will face many other problems:
The United States has the worst health system in the developed world and also one of the most unbalanced and unjust tax systems, created to benefit the wealthiest.
The entire world is prey to the aftermath of 9-11, the threats of terrorism and nuclear weapons that are now available to underdeveloped countries like North Korea.
Poverty, genocide and disease devastate us all. The deep poverty of the Southern Hemisphere provokes massive migrations towards the Northern. This social movement of millions causes huge problems for the North and the South. All are affected but nobody has the solution.
All the developed countries have a much greater responsibility than the underdeveloped, who don’t have the resources to do hardly anything. AIDS, for example, is ravaging sub-Saharan Africa and gets a ridiculous amount of international aid compared to the size of the problem.
Without a doubt, the man with greater responsibilities in the eyes of the world is the president of the United States. Today there are sufficient resources, financial, technological, and of the media, to resolve world hunger and the ignorance of the millions of illiterates on the planet, if the planet were organized on other bases. This means a complete overhaul of international institutions and a commitment by the developed countries to rid the world of underdevelopment in half a century. It is absolutely possible. But we require a profound cultural change in the political classes of the developed world.
In 1983, the United States conducted a study of competitive academics in science and mathematics in elevenyear- old children in 21 countries. According to a report entitled A Nation at Risk, the United States turned out to be in 19th place. Since that report, it was decided to conduct an educational revolution, still going on, which resituated this country in the world of knowledge in just a few years (though they still have a widely-ignorant society), and re-launched a race for accelerated expansion of education in the developed world. Efforts such as that can be put into motion by a consortium of all developed countries for the entire planet. The decision of the president of the United States in this regard is crucial.
The cost of the Iraq war is 341.4 million dollars per day, and the total cumulative figure is close to five hunpor dred and thirty billion dollars. The gross national product of Iraq is 18.8 million dollars, i.e, meaning what the United States has thrown into the fire over Iraq equals 28 times the value of everything that is produced in Iraq one year. It amounts to almost twice the annual domestic product of all of sub-Saharan Africa. Obviously, with what the United States has spent in the war against Iraq, all of Africa could have been rescued from extreme poverty.
This world scenario leads to the resolution of some questions that the next U.S. term-holder will have to answer:
1. Are you willing to reform international institutions in a democratic mode and to respect international treaties?
2. Are you interested in reaching a global agreement to build a new arquitecture of the international financial system?
3. Do you agree to drastically reduce your military budget and allocate resources to reform your health-care system, for example?
4. Will your judicial system return to Habeas Corpus as the overriding principal?
5. Will you sponsor a balanced and fair tax reform for American society?
6. Will you seek a radical reform of the UN system and its agencies?
7. Will you launch a program—together with the rest of the developed countries—to pull the underdeveloped world out of its misery and put the brakes on mass migrations?
8. Will you launch a plan to educate the world’s societies side by side with the rest of the developed countries?
9. Will you seek to eradicate disease on the planet?
10. Will you launch a plan against global warming in coordination with all nations of the world?
All this can be answered in the affirmative if the world’s wealthy classes and political parties in developed countries come out in favor of a program to make the planet a humane world. And in this, the voice of the next U.S. president is decisive. Perhaps Obama, most likely, Obama, has the floor.