Saturday, January 29, 2011

Supporting The People of Egypt

The events over the past couple of days in Egypt create a huge problem for the United States. The Obama Administration wants to be able to come out for the will of the people against a dictator, but at the same time want to support that dictator because it benefits the US in their efforts on the Middle East Peace Process with regard to Israel.

So what to do? We want to support freedom and democracy. But what happens when that democracy results in an Islamic Republic (such as Iran) or an anti-Israeli government such as Hamas in occupied Palestine? The simple fact is that the will of the people does not always result in a pro-American government.

Personally, I think we should stay out of it and allow the chips to fall where they may. We made mistakes with Iran in the 70's that haunt us today. Our support for the Shah of Iran resulted in the takeover of the US Embassy and to a lesser extent the rise of Iraq and the Iran/Iraq war.

Possible outcomes may result in coming to arms over the Suez Canal or even an eventual shooting war between Israel and her neighbors. Of course, those are worst case scenarios. Hopefully, a moderate government will emerge from Egypt. Only time will tell.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Finally something to talk about

This past week, the Chinese President visited the White House for a state dinner. It has brought up understandable concerns over the rise of China and what that means for the US.

It is estimated that by 2025 or 2030, China will overtake the United States as the largest economy in the world. The US surpassed Great Britain in 1877 as the largest country in the world. Ever since, the foam finger industry has been going strong making "We're Number 1" foam fingers. America has enjoyed a long run as the strongest and richest country in the world. Losing that number one spot will be tough to our national psyche, however, we should actually start to question what we have done to earn that number one spot.

We American's have been riding the wave of previous successes for a while. The real question should be, "What have we done lately?"

There is no doubt that China is hungry and ambitious. But just how ambitious are we as a nation? Most of what we do now is respond to problems. No longer are we racing to the moon, learning to fly, creating new inventions, or building the big dams. It doesn't mean we are dumber than our ancestors. It does mean we are not as ambitious as they were. Our hunger has been calmed by plenty of food, loads of leisure and comfort. We don't take the risks we once did largely because we have so much to lose or we have too much stuff already and don't need to go higher.

I was visited by a man this week who wants to build his own business. He is about 40 and makes good money working for someone else. After a very long talk, I realized he won't actually follow his dream because he is comfortable now. He won't take a risk for something bigger because what he has now is good enough.

Multiply that across an entire generation and you will see why we Americans have a problem. In order to grow as a country, we must take risk. But individuals don't need or want to take that risk for the possibility of something big.

The missing element is ambition. You cannot teach it. Either you hunger to achieve something or you don't. It is tough to act hungry when your belly is already full. I don't know what the answer is to this dilemma. Of course, we will all point the finger at someone else for America's decline in the world. Luckily, there will be a huge supply of foam fingers to fill the demand.