By Julio Espinoza, Staff Writer
September 11, 2001 will always be a sad day in human history. This is the day when America was hit by extremism in our most cherished symbols of freedom: the Pentagon, which represents our military that defends and promotes our national interest, and the World Trade Center in New York, which represents our free market economy that increases the well-being of many at home and abroad. This week we would like to thank all our public servants and members of our armed forces for their sacrifice. We all are sad for those who had to leave us prematurely. But we all are also grateful and proud for those who stand tall when the stakes are high.
We are bogged down by the presidential race: a back and forth of accusations between policy makers. This is not good for our country, because the shallower our political debate is, the more undemocratic our political system becomes. We need an exchange of ideas; we need to debate on issues that have an impact on our national interest.
If our national interest is to remain a world superpower that promotes an international order of democracy, prosperity, human and civil rights, peace and cooperation between different countries with opposing interests, then what is our duty as public servants, community leaders and entrepreneurs? What should our national response be in dangerous times? How can we help America to stay powerful and assertive in the world?
Never in history has the world seen an empire as powerful and compassionate as the U.S. We not only represent one of the most industrialized and innovative economies of the world, but we are also one of the major donors of official development assistance and a champion of civil society participation. When we send money or food abroad, and when we send our Peace Corps Volunteers, we are nurturing the world with our ideals of freedom from fear and love for democracy, equality and justice.
In the coming generations the world will be much different. Emerging economies will be developed economies with rising political ambitions and tensions. What can we do to assure that the world remains a friendly place for our national interest? The world will still need an arbitrator, a peace-maker and a lender of last resort. Who of the new world powers will have the expertise, resources and willingness to take the burden of leadership? Who will have the legitimacy to lead? So far there is only one country that has the diplomatic expertise, economic and military outreach, and willingness to take responsibility: the U.S. However, will we have the legitimacy to be accepted as the world’s leader?
During the latest Republican administration, we saw how our popularity had decreased in the world thanks to a unilateral foreign policy. During the incumbent Democrat administration we improved our political legitimacy but, while we remember September 11, what will our next president do to make America “great again” in the eyes of the world?
Our next president must be able to negotiate with both weak and powerful countries. Our next president must not bully people around like in a reality show, but rather foster real North-South cooperation and support the rule of international law and organizations that have been able to prevent a World War III, foster macroeconomic cooperation, spearhead dispute settlements and promote human security.
Our next president needs to be a true negotiator, not a pushy realtor and loud TV celebrity that will alienate us from the rest of the world. Our next president must carry the Seal of the President with stateliness and ensure that the U.S. remains the world’s “primus inter pares” (first among equals).
At Das Tor we salute those who perished on September 11 and those who will always stand up to defend our freedom.