Sunday, December 9, 2007
THE DECLINE OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE
President Bush will probably become known in history as the American leader who began the decline of the American Empire. Pax Americana is at an end! The single most important cause for this decline is his total lack of leadership in addressing the issue of global climate change.
While clear arguments could be made regarding his lack of leadership in such areas as international diplomacy and his failure to address domestic social and economic issues, those failures pale in comparison to his undaunting refusal to take the leadership role in tackling the tough issues of climate change. Despite the debacle in Iraq; despite escalating personal bankruptcies; despite the growing have and have not gap; despite his failure to meet the needs of millions that have suffered through domestic environmental catastrophes, it is climate change that will be his lasting legacy. No issue affects more people on a worldwide scale than the looming alteration of our home world.
At the Bali conference on climate change the United States said that they are not ready to adopt mandatory limits on greenhouse gases and that we will come with our own plan sometime in 2008. That plan, according to most observers, will be voluntary. The European Union has already committed to mandatory reductions by 2020. Despite the dire warnings of ocean expansion, droughts, floods, increased spread of diseases and general environmental mayhem, Bush is still looking for nonbinding ways to reduce emissions. If that would work, why haven’t all of the major polluting industries already adopted nonbinding reductions? As the Bush Administration waffles, the U.S. is losing what remaining credibility is might have had as a world leader.
Of all of the nations in the world, the United States is the one nation that can afford to make reductions. Our lack of leadership will be the nail in the Pax Americana global empire. With international disdain for our foreign policies, even OPEC nations are talking about eliminating the dollar as the basis for oil pricing. As highlighted in my book, RAPING LOUISIANA: A DIARY OF DECEIT, we are seen as the international buffoon with respect to our ability to even care for our own disasters. The negative ripple effect of our sub-prime housing crisis on international banking adds even more skepticism regarding our ability to lead the world in anything.
And now our true colors begin to show and it is not the green of the environment, rather it is the green of money. At the Bali conference the U.S. and the E.U. are pushing to remove economic trade barriers so we can sell our environmental technology to third world and emerging nations. According to the OECD, this market is worth several hundred BILLION dollars each year. While one might argue that this technology should indeed be more readily available, we once again come off as looking for the bottom line in terms of money rather than the bottom line of the environment. If the U.S. had in place mandatory use of alternative technologies in all federally financed or insured projects, such a move would be credible. Since this is not the case, we come across as just seeking more ways to fatten the pockets of large corporations. While in my mind the jury is still out in terms of ethanol, it is interesting that this push to reduce tariffs does not include this technology, much to the consternation of Brazil. Is it possible that we see Brazil as too competitive for American ethanol production efforts?
Depending on the extent of the lessons that Mother Nature chooses to palace before us, Americans will see the decline in the power and status of our nation. Like barbarian hordes that knocked at the doors of the unsuspecting Romans, we, too have a blind eye regarding our status among the world community. While we will probably blame George W. Bush, we all share in that blame as we let our nation sink like the lost continent of Atlantis.