Readers Weigh In Is America Arrogant?

A SPIEGEL cover story this week argued that the financial crisis is upending American dominance of the financial markets and world politics. The article sparked passionate responses from our readers, and we have posted a selection of letters.


A reader writes: "Europe, be careful with your current gloating and hubris."
AFP

A reader writes: "Europe, be careful with your current gloating and hubris."

A recent SPIEGEL cover story arguing that America's economic clout will wane as a result of the current financial crisis inspired passionate reactions among readers.

"Perhaps Europe's newly found confidence will lead it to start shouldering the burdens of a global power," wrote one reader. Others said they detected a whiff of schadenfreude, or worse, in the piece. "Rarely have I read such overwrought wishful thinking regarding the United States," wrote one. Many insist that Europe is in just as deep as America. "To have gone along with the financial crisis hook, line and sinker is absurd and exhibits the same avarice, greed and selfishness the world over," another wrote.

SPIEGEL ONLINE has posted a selection of reader responses, and you can also debate the cover story in our SPIEGEL FORUM.

Dear SPIEGEL ONLINE,

The good thing about any US economic turbulence is the latent malice it reveals in our "friends." Though no country in continental Europe has more reasons to thank the US than Germany (except, perhaps, France), our compassion and generosity to this deposed bully is quickly forgotten whenever the Fatherland thinks we're on our knees. Of course, German envy and animus were recently fueled by president-in-waiting's apologies (the young Turk has yet to learn that a leader never speaks ill of his country) and only emboldened by the results of our government's lax supervision of the best-of-breed Wall Streeters.

The financial crisis will pass and -- against the greatest hopes of our European and Asian trading partners -- the US will be stronger than ever. I will keep this DER SPIEGEL piece, however, to show it to my liberal friends the next time we have to rescue the Europeans from themselves.

-- Alice Griffin , New York City, USA


Dear SPIEGEL ONLINE,

Rarely have I read such overwrought wishful thinking regarding the US. The US economy is challenged, yes, but I do believe the reports of our death are greatly overstated. We will continue to be the engine that drives most of the world's economy. If this is not the case, then why are world markets begging us to move quickly to fix our problem so that business as usual can continue overseas?

German bitterness over its relegation to a B-Team economy -- take a look at your tax system, loss of technology investment, perverse immigration system, etc. -- should yield the energy to improve, not point fingers. You don't like George Bush? Wait about 31 days and he'll be history. You think our system is based upon avarice and greed? Watch our Congress move against those who tried to over-leverage our markets. The bottom line is this: The current "crisis" is less a debacle than it is an opportunity to do what the US always does, namely step up and fix the problem.

-- Steve Kopper, Washington, DC


Dear SPIEGEL ONLINE,

Here is the view from an American small businessman in California. We in America don't care about being the dominant economic power in the world. We embrace capitalism as defined by the British economist John Smith.

We are too busy trying to improve our own lives to worry about being Mr. Big. It is true, our nation is in a banking crisis, and there is lots of pain to go around. As is the case with all corrections, we will work our way out of it. It is important to coordinate with Germany and the G-8 to sync up all central banks to resolve the worldwide problem.

I own many properties and did not take a single subprime loan. I never took a home-equity loan. I have no debt except for property mortgages. All my properties have a positive cash flow. These are common-sense principles used by many citizens in Germany, the US, Japan, the UK, etc.

I again state: We Americans are interested in being good citizens of our nation -- and of the world. We could care less about being a superpower or the biggest economically dominant nation. We think freedom is far more important. Sure, we cheer at the Olympics, but we cheer all nations, all top athletes, regardless of whether our team wins a medal.

Throughout our history, we have given our lives and treasure to support freedom in the UK, France, Germany, Japan, beating back true tyrants. The case for Vietnam and Iraq are less clear, and we are divided as a nation, but not discouraged over those conflicts.

We love liberty, life and the pursuit of happiness. We love to see all people treated equally, period.

-- Bob Moore , USA


Dear SPIEGEL ONLINE,

This article is promising. Perhaps Europe's newly found confidence will lead it to start shouldering the burdens of a global power. The idea that NATO is a "powerful defense alliance" is questionable. It has not been that for a long time and has primarily depended on US might to operate, whether in Bosnia, Kosovo or Afghanistan.

Imagine America's joy when, after all these decades (since) World War II, Europe finally managed to squeak out a few monitors for Georgia. Success! Now if they only could come up with a few combat troops for Afghanistan under our "strong defense alliance," NATO.

Schools of thought differ over how America can take advantage of a few developed nations finally taking it upon themselves to lead economically, militarily and politically. As Europe's scoffing is nothing new and has been going on for decades, I think Americans would be more than happy to hand the reins to Europe, sit back and watch.

Fareed Zakaria's opinions about a post-American world are intriguing, but unfortunately grow out of wishful thinking. These new multipolar "centers of gravity" have been slow to respond, despite America's fondest hopes. Indeed, Canada has been forced to continuing patrols off the Horn of Africa against a menacing piracy threat in the absence of any other nation's offers to assume those duties. Piracy also imperils the Straits of Malacca and the waters around the Philippines and Indonesia, critical choke points along a sea line of communication used by all countries.

Weary Americans would be more than happy to be spared recurring global obligations, such as fighting in safe havens where attacks against Europe and the US are plotted, but all these great new "centers of gravity" seem to be taking their time.

-- Rowan Jordan, Besthesda , Maryland , USA


Dear SPIEGEL ONLINE,

This is my first letter to the editor, but it comes at an important time. I was born in Germany and have lived overseas at various points in my life. I was living overseas the last time the US had a big financial dip in the early 1990s. Most people were polite, but they generally had the opinion that America's days of preeminence were over and that Japan would now be taking the lead in the industrialized nations. My advice to them at the time was that this would be a really good time to buy as much stock in American companies as they could afford. Sadly, they did not take my advice. If they had, they could be retired now...

Please do not be so quick to count us out. This is not a time to despair but, rather, it is an opportunity to make some money, if you are brave and patient.

If you have some money you can afford to do without for 10 years, my advice would be: If you are of modest financial means, buy Treasury notes or index funds. If you are middle class, buy stocks. If you are rich, buy stocks in banks or real estate.

-- Kurt Christensen , USA

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