Monday, March 31, 2014

International Leadership (Blair's Lessons, part X)

From Tony Blair's autobiography, an observation that would benefit our current President.
America’s burden is that it wants to be loved, but knows it can’t be. Love is given to nations with which we sympathize; nations that are victims of tragedy, opposition or even poor governance. Powerful nations aren’t loved. They can be admired by their friends, respected by neutrals; they have to be feared by their enemies. 
This is especially so of a nation like America that is not only powerful, but aspires to lead. The leadership will be resented, sometimes actively opposed. It will also, however, be expected. 
* * * 
But America is great for a reason. It is looked up to, despite all the criticism, for a reason. There is a nobility in the American character that has been developed over the centuries, derived no doubt from the frontier spirit, from the waves of migration that form the stock, from the circumstances of independence, from the civil war, from a myriad of historical facts and coincidences But it is there. 
That nobility isn’t about being nicer, better or more successful than anyone else. It is a feeling about the country. It is a devotion to the American ideal that at a certain point transcends class, race, religion or upbringing. That ideal is about values: freedom, the rule of law, democracy. It is also about the way you achieve: on merit, by your own efforts and hard work. But it is, most of all, that in striving for and protecting that ideal, you as an individual take second place to the interests of the nation as a whole. It is what makes the country determined to overcome its challenges. It is what makes its soldiers give their lives in sacrifices. It is what brings every variety of American, from the lowest to the highest, to their feet when “The Star-Spangled Banner” is played. Of course the ideal is not always met—that is obvious. But it is always striven for.

Also in this series:
Reforming Political Parties (Blair's Lessons, part I)
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