21st Century Dominance: Still Up for Grabs?

A great opinion piece by Thomas Friedman focused in on the two key components that will ultimately decide whether America’s dominance throughout the 20th Century will come to an end with China forging ahead in the 21st.

With the world as we know it completely interconnected at a level that was frankly unimaginable 100 years ago, creativity and imagination matter. Ipods might be made in China but they are imagined in the U.S. The U.S. is as Friedman puts it, “the world’s greatest dream machine.”

With that said however, Friedman also discusses another key factor that differentiates China and the U.S., but is narrowing quickly – good governance. China’s censorship and tactful control of its citizens is well-documented. Yet, so is America’s suboptimal repsonse to its biggest issues of the day: education, financial regulation, debt, health-care, energy and the environment.

These critical issues are fracturing the country and paralyzing our leaders to creatively imagine up workable solutions. Gerrymandering of political districts, the cable news sector, and the internet encourages segregation of ideas. Pick a side, Democrat or Republican, and don’t give in no matter what.

The U.S. business community only comes to Washington to lobby for their own interests providing very little commentary on national issues affecting U.S. citizens at large.

Obama was elected to build a bridge and bring people across from both sides. He has a long way to go and I do not envy his job. Yet with a more active and understanding citizen-base, we, rather than our elected officials, can press ahead for change. After all, 95% of the rhetoric today is coming from us, not them.   

All in all, continued suboptimal responses to these critical issues will catch up to us regardless of how much imagination we engender. China will patiently wait.




Filed under Pole to Pole Development Posts

3 responses to “21st Century Dominance: Still Up for Grabs?

  1. Siddique Ahmed

    America has a long way to go down and loose out to any other nations in matter of dominance despite some wrong steps in war, unilateralism & harmful deregulation & global isolation on environmental issues. Apparently, US economic, military and diplomatic supremacy are no more unsurpassable by China the toughest rival to US. However, China has still a long way to go up and earn dominence over US and not probably in the 21st Century. America had flourished over decades by developing human values and ideas of people through a democratic system where freedom of mind played a major role. China has yet to start this process.

  2. David

    You underestimate the power of corporations in the United States. In US corporations, the dreams come alive; what was the last great product or design from the East? The Chery or the Tata? These were only improvements from already established designs and dreams. Have you heard the Post-It note story? It is much the same story as the Ipod.

    I do agree that the US could be more focused on innovation and invention because the East is performing the back-office functions. China is patient; have been for 1,000 of years; outlasted explorers, imperialism and now, international pressure to cut its carbon footprint. A miss by their society given its current governmental control is its lack of freedom to ‘revolt.’ I don’t mean revolution, I mean question the current status quo. In the West specifically the US, it is a constant question by its society. Look at the number of self-help books be it psychologically, professionally or other change management materials.

    In summary, China may rise to be an equal superpower to the US; however, the US will always be the home of the brave and the land of the free; two Enlightenment principles that have stood the test of time. When China decides to embrace Enlightenment for its people, then the world should be concerned.

    • Great points, David. It’s going to take an inside-out change I think with regard to the Communist party. I cannot see a revolt toppling such an entrenched system. There will really need to be some higher-ups already in the system questioning the status-quo. Similar to Iran in that respect. This might take awhile …

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