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28th February 2012

America – who needs them?

When it comes to America, the entire world seems to suffer from an inferiority complex. What makes America better than any other nation? And why are we so convinced we need them to prosper? Perhaps it’s because America is the world’s largest economy? However, if we really take a deep look into the American economy, […]
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When it comes to America, the entire world seems to suffer from an inferiority complex. What makes America better than any other nation? And why are we so convinced we need them to prosper? Perhaps it’s because America is the world’s largest economy? However, if we really take a deep look into the American economy, it is nothing without the rest of the world. On average, America imports 60 percent of its oil resources from countries including Canada, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Nigeria, Iraq, the United Kingdom, Norway, Angola, Algeria and Colombia. Seven of those countries are still considered to be underdeveloped nations, a term that alludes to inferiority when put on the global stage. As oil is an integral part of the American economy, it needs those underdeveloped countries in order to top up their own oil field reserves and keep their economy afloat. Therefore, there is no need to feel inferior; in fact if anything those countries should feel superior.

Furthermore, as the second-largest exporter of goods in the world, America needs the rest of the world in order to have a consumer market. Quite honestly, if every nation in the world were to stand up and expel America from the global economy the world would survive, maybe even better than now. Oil resources would be under less pressure as their largest consumer would disappear, nations struggling to compete with American products would be able to step in and fill the void left by the US as they watched their national economies grow. For all of you economists out there, yes, initially it would be hard for supply to meet demand, but over time industries would develop and at the end of the day America would be the country left behind. Therefore, America cannot have a relatively strong economy without other nations.

So America isn’t economically superior to the wider world; maybe it’s democratically superior then? America’s federal system, with its strict network of checks and balances, has been lauded by an array of political scientists as more democratic than those states with majoritarian systems. But apply democracy outside of domestic policies and to America’s foreign policies and this argument soon withers away.

Throughout its history, America has been notorious for supporting repressive dictatorships in order to protect their economic interests; the US knows it needs everyone else to have a strong economy. The Greek military junta of the ‘60s and ‘70s, Cuba’s Batista, the Somozas of Nicaragua, Egypt’s Mubarak, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea are just a few of the names on the endless list of dictators American governments have supported and some which it continues to support today. Clearly, America cannot be considered democratically superior to authoritarian regimes if you value the aphorism “the enabler is as bad as the doer”.

Ok, so America is neither economically nor democratically superior to any other country in the world, so maybe it’s just a historical path we’re stuck on. Since its independence in 1776 America has been incessantly involved in global politics and survival now seems impossible without them, after all, what country can say it has absolutely no American support?

That would be Cuba. Despite relying on American financial and political aid since its “independence” in 1898, in 1959 Cuba managed to cut the umbilical and reclaim itself. Since then Cuba has managed to survive without America. Despite an unstable economy, Cuba has one of the most respectable health and education systems, which are free and universal. In America a trip to the doctor could bankrupt you on some occasions. If a country like Cuba, only 110,860 square miles in size, with limited natural resources and cut off from the world’s largest economy can manage to stay afloat without American help; then why does the rest of the world -including developed nations like the UK- convince themselves that America is superior to them and that they have to do what America says in order to prosper?

Quite frankly it’s because the world lets America exploit them. Like the bully on the playground, America pushes other nations around and these nations take America’s orders because they believe it ensures their protection. But again, if every nation were to stand up to America and say “we’re not taking this anymore”, the country would lose its abusive power.

So take a step back and look at America even more closely. The world doesn’t need America, it only believes it does. And if we remember this in the future, the rest of the world could stand to benefit.

Disagree? Tweet us @mancuniondebate or email [email protected]


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