For words of wisdom about America’s proper place in a better future world, listen to Singapore’s former Prime Minister and elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew, speaking at a recent conference in Japan. Lee takes the long-term view, and advises his listeners that as China grows to its full potential, no combination of its neighbors will be strong enough to provide a balance without the USA. He is not talking about a military balance here, he cites America’s strong economy and record for innovation as well as the fact the the whole international community speaks English (and Chinese is a devilish hard language to learn).
What a wonderful vision of a future in which our country is wanted in the rest of the world, not for our bombs and aircraft carriers, but for our economic strength and our capacity for innovation! Wanted, not resented or barely tolerated. Important, not because we have the world’s most powerful military establishment, and sell guns to our friends, but because we can provide a balancing and stabilizing presence when regional problems threaten to get out of hand. And we’re easy to talk to, because we all speak English, more or less.
We have a great future in a world community that can be a lot more peaceful and productive than the present one, if we can just get over our hangups about world government and helicopters swooping in with people in blue hats taking our guns away. And Lee’s vision is also the answer to those who believe that the only option we have to our present role as world policeman is withdrawal into an isolationist shell. There is a middle way, and while Lee isn’t telling us how to get there, he is telling us what to expect if we find it.
The text of the report, that caused me this unaccustomed moment of pleasure when contemplating my country’s future can, be found at: