June 10, 2011
By Joseph J. Honick©
Read More Joe Hoenick
After returning from an intensive three-week trip to the U.K., Belgium and the Czech Republic, talking with many people in business and scouring the print media, a few conclusions slam one right in the face:
1. The worldwide economic crisis is put right at the feet of U.S.
2. There is no acceptable or believable political or other leader worthy of support.
3. The U.S. looks like a runaway auto with no one at the wheel.
4. The Middle East is a massive pile of tinder being stoked toward real explosion by some mad determinations from NATO-led by the U.S. for reasons yet to be explained … even sans any settlement between Israel and whoever speaks for the Palestinians.
And all of this seems to be magnified by one of the least sane versions of a run-up to political contests in recent history in the United States. In short, much of the world seems hungry for anything and anyone who might lend some direction out of the economic quagmire that has paralyzed much of the free world.
When we spoke to both ordinary and well-to-do people, there is frequent reference to the “crisis”, meaning the burst financial bubble virtually everywhere. And they add just as often: “that started with you in America, didn’t it?” Whether justified or not, the belief is pervasive.
This does not mean there is no one waiting to take over the reins of leadership and to offer some sense of encouragement.
The lack of America’s confidence in its political and commercial sectors sadly exists across the ocean.
Meanwhile, countries once assigned “third world” status have not been stagnant in their own efforts to move up and out. For example, those who take a little time to watch such things know that mostly Asian countries have been craftily, efficiently and steadily dispatching bright young and talented men and women to the most prestigious graduate schools of business and economics in the west.
A predominant percentage of those students have come from China whose determination to invest abroad is by now enormous and conspicuous … and successful.
It came as no surprise to read in a recent Financial Times that Chinese investors are helping to reignite the housing industry in certain areas of Canada. But we also know that the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade has been sending substantial groups to the U.S. to study investment opportunities.
And why shouldn’t they when we seem so preoccupied (an insufficient term perhaps) with two wars, a surprising need to stoke rebellions in the Middle East and juvenile political conflicts to prove which parties and candidates are the very worst rather than what can be done cooperatively to help fuel progress for America and the world?
There was a time when, no matter where I ventured in the world, the U.S. was seen as a shining beacon of hope in the face of fear, hunger and other disasters.
Today, we are certainly looked to for financial and humanitarian assistance in times of floods, nuclear threats and other problems. But the sense of leadership is not there.
That concern is not merely one about who gets elected to public office. It is a focused observation that the intensive partisanship that smothers any means of progress also has embarrassed us in a world where whatever we do is communicated in seconds.
So we are back to those opening observations and the plea of this piece for a real world leader to stand up and fast….and for those who only apply the means of political destruction to stand down so we can once again do what we have done so many times before: demonstrate mature leadership in a time of severe crisis before the world descends into another terrible conflict.
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Joseph J. Honick is an international consultant to business and government and writes for many publications. Honick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.