I remember a time when America could go to Arabia and tell them what to do and how to do it, and by gum somebody'd do it. Or at least they'd give it a good show before the politics and violence of the region-in-question tore everything to pieces. But now, as this article reveals, America's gotten too weak for that. As much as I revel in the failure of anything Bush attempts, this gave me some pause.
America is, of course, going downhill economically and influentially in the world. It's that time again, where the dominant empire changes hands. A few centuries ago it was France, then England, then Russia and the US, then the US all by its lonesome. Now it'll be someone else--maybe the first world en masse, given the nature of economics and communications and technology today (...or maybe it'll be China, but I'm still not willing to concede that). At any rate, barring magic of a Camelot fashion from future president-elect Barack Obama, the US has seen its golden days and it'll be in the shadow of itself for the foreseeable future. The problem I see with this (and it's not really a problem for anyone but America himself) is that the US isn't generally capable as viewing itself as anything but the best.
Examples: In a bunch of American movies you'll see foreigners talking about my country-this or my country-that. "In [whomever's homeland], the beer drinks you," or some quaint, often comical quip like that. It might be because I don't watch an abundance of foreign films, but hearing an American talk about their country in such a homely and removed way, so as to suggest that anybody on Earth might not know exactly how it goes down in the US of A, sounds at best from an era when The Wizard of Oz was on the New Releases shelf at ye olde bookstore, and at worst a silly parody. The idea being that America's not a country, it's the country. It's like asking who Michael Jackson is, or Steven Spielberg. (They're Americans.)
Anyways, when I was reading the article about Bush wagging his finger at the poor, miseducated Arabs, I kept asking myself Who the hell does this guy think he is? And not in that way where I think of clever ways to argue against politicians I don't like; this was more of a natural, gut reaction, the kind you might get if Pascal Couchepin gave a speech in Washington explaining to Americans that they've got to stop being silly about this whole not-being-socialist thing and get on the bandwagon.
In the end, if this economic and superpower shift does occur, I'm just worried America will appear on the world scale like that really fantastic football player you knew in high school but who at the 10-year reunion has a beer belly and can't manage a sentence without swearing or saying "man" and is tragically unaware of the fool he looks, because he's convinced the old crowd is still the old crowd and he yet at the height of stardom.