james debate
james debate

Monday 15 June 2009

As if the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan wasn't enough, now relations continue to deteriorate between the Western world and Iran, who claim to be only interested in nuclear power, rather than nuclear weapons, and North Korea, who are much more open about their hostile intentions. And all those skirmishes with Chinese ships?

Does anyone remember the 90s, during Clinton's time, and how invincible we were back then? Where did all these insane dictators come from who suddenly seem completely willing to not only risk contact with America, but actually attack them if provoked. Today we discuss the question, "are we living in a more dangerous world today than 10 years ago?"

Common logic will tell you that there is always danger in this world. 10 years ago we had Saddam and Slobodan Milošević after all. But not since the cold war have other sovereign states been bold, or foolish, enough to stand up to America like this, 'declaring' that they are going to stockpile nuclear weapons, and going so far as to threaten military action against the United States, as North Korea have recently. Some of this has to be due at least in part to the weakening of the country as a whole over these past 8 years.

The failure of American conflicts abroad, on top of a collapsed economy, and the complete neglect of the education system that has seen America fall way behind its rivals. These are some of the key blunders of the past eight years that have contributed to the weaker position America is in and the effects are obvious.

Suddenly America doesn't look so invincible. These foreign countries know that America simply can't afford to be waging more wars with the current conflicts we are already stuck in, and especially not with our economy in the state its in.

The other major issue is that America has completely forfeit its moral authority over these past few years. One of the main reasons the United Nations has succeeded where its predecessor the League of Nations failed is the support and authority of a country as powerful as the United States. But when Bush's America decided to throw the UN charter to hell, with the now infamous torture disgrace, and his purported violations of the nuclear non-proliferation act, it was only inevitable that the UN would lose its power, and now that is exactly what has happened.

So is there not a measure of hypocrisy about America's stance against North Korea when they go and break the exact same treaty? Well perhaps not so much now that America is under new, more competent management. Indeed, in a very short time Obama has done much to atone for the past mistakes of his predecessor and the beneficial results are starting to become obvious in the international community, but it will take more than that to appease some of the nation's more aggressive rivals out there like Iran and North Korea, who have jumped to seize advantage of the situation.

In times like this, with the world gone to hell, I think one thing that most people can be grateful for is that we have a measured President like Obama, who will take the simply unprecedented plethora of issues currently facing his administration, and adopt a considered and educated approach, as opposed to the 'gut instinct' that Bush used to get us into this catastrophe.

With an economy in ruins, two wars, a shambles of a healthcare system, neglected education system, complete breakdown of foreign relations and dangerous rivals armed with nuclear weapons, no one with any sense of politics could have expected many of these issues to be tackled so early in his term. And yet Obama has taken all these issues on simultaneously in just his first few months with a number of ambitious moves. If it all works, he will no doubt be remembered as one of the great presidents, but if it fails, it could land us in an even greater state of economic disarray. So far signs are positive, but it all remains to be seen.

And ultimately, it could be how he decides to handle the threat of these nuclear armed dictators that defines the next four years.

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