From Mark Alexson in Kenya:
Sometimes I hear folks on this blog make comments about the world and it takes my breath way; clearly, the Ugly American has gone home for retirement. I do find it troubling, though, that the general ignorance about the world extends to the media, and I ponder how it is that the more information that becomes available on the web the less Americans seem to know about their world. By way of example, one poster on the blog asked the snide and sneering comment about whether Kenya or the United States had a long average life expectancy. Well, adjusting for the influx of refugees in the war zone, the answer happens to be Kenya. American life expectancy is falling, even as quality of life is decreasing in older age, meaning that it is better to be older in Kenya than Miami. Here in Kenya, I can treat you with palliative medicines from India and Israel that will improve your quality of life, medicines that you won’t be able to buy in the United States until the FDA finishes their reviews somewhere around 2030.
Take out an atlas. It’s a giant book that shows the world. Find Africa. It’s a big continent. Circle Mombasa. Its on the Indian Ocean. No, the Indian Ocean isn’t in Arizona near the Navajo reservation. Draw a line from Mombasa to Tel Aviv, and then over to Singapore. You’ll notice that this “Golden Triangle” doesn’t include North America, Europe or even Korea and Japan, or most of China. But it does include about 1/3 of the world’s population, and a vast percentage of its economy. In the world today, when people want to trade, they go to Kuala Lumpur instead of Chicago. For finance, they go to Singapore instead of Wall Street. For medical research, they go to India instead of Boston. For medical care, they go to Dubai instead of Minnesota. For travel, they select the beaches of Israel over the beaches of California, where brown tourists are generally not welcome. No one is impressed that an American company can build a freighter to go to the space station; research in India is aimed at space planes and warp drive. This Golden Triangle is the center of the world, and it seems to be the future.
Yet, yet, Americans seem to think that their little country of 300,000,000 is the center of the world. Newsflash—it isn’t so. Get out and see the world, people. You are behaving like Romans in 98 CE. Leading the world in missile technology isn’t where its at. There was a moment back in 2008, and I shared it, when the world was excited by Barack Obama. With his muslim, Kenyan and Indonesian background, folks in the real world thought that maybe, finally, the United States was going to elect a president who understand the new reality of the planet. Strangely, he has turned out to be more ignorant of the broader global trends that George W. Bush, who seemed never to have seen the world outside of Texas. Today, Mitt Romney is viewed as being more global and more astute, because his global business experience has taught him to understand modern centers of power.
On my last plane flight, I read a book called A Most Dangerous Book. It was about how the Germans had allowed a mythohistory by Tacitus to delude them into believing they were ubermensch, with the disastrous results we experienced in the twentieth century. I worry, for good reason, that the Americans really don’t understand the world today, and that the fire that is being played with will have equally disastrous consequences. I suggest it starts by having Americans understand that it is no longer 1958. It’s time to see the world as it is.