How Long Will America Lead the World?

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How Long Will America Lead the World?

Unread post by 'X' » June 12th, 2006, 5:31 pm

How Long Will America Lead the World?

The United States is still the dominant force in technology, innovation, productivity and profits. But Americans don't quite realize how fast the rest of the world is catching up.

By Fareed Zakaria


June 12, 2006 issue - Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, held in London on June 22, 1897, was one of the grandest fetes the world has ever seen: 46,000 troops and 11 colonial prime ministers arrived from the four corners of the earth to pay homage to their sovereign. The event was as much a celebration of Victoria's 60 years on the throne as it was of Britain's superpower status. In 1897, Queen Victoria ruled over a quarter of the world's population and a fifth of its territory, all connected by the latest marvel of British technology, the telegraph, and patrolled by the Royal Navy, which was larger than the next two navies put together. "The world took note," says the historian Karl Meyer. The New York Times gushed: "We are a part ... of the Greater Britain which seems so plainly destined to dominate this planet'."

An 8-year-old boy, Arnold Toynbee, who became a great historian, watched the parade while sitting on his uncle's shoulders. "I remember the atmosphere," he later wrote. "It was: well, here we are on the top of the world, and we have arrived at this peak to stay there—forever! There is, of course, a thing called history, but history is something unpleasant that happens to other people."

Well, Americans have replaced Britons atop the world, and we are now worried that history is happening to us. History has arrived in the form of "Three Billion New Capitalists," as Clyde Prestowitz's recent book puts it, people from countries like China, India and the former Soviet Union, which all once scorned the global market economy but are now enthusiastic and increasingly sophisticated participants in it. They are poorer, hungrier and in some cases well trained, and will inevitably compete with Americans and America for a slice of the pie. A Goldman Sachs study concludes that by 2045, China will be the largest economy in the world, replacing the United States.

It is not just writers like Prestowitz who are sounding alarms. Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of GE, reflects on the growing competence and cost advantage of countries like China and even Mexico and says, "It's unclear how many manufacturers will choose to keep their businesses in the United States." Intel's Andy Grove is more blunt. "America ... [is going] down the tubes," he says, "and the worst part is nobody knows it. They're all in denial, patting themselves on the back, as the Titanic heads for the iceberg full speed ahead."

Much of the concern centers on the erosion of science and technology in the U.S., particularly in education. Eight months ago, the national academies of sciences, engineering and medicine came together to put out a report that argued that the "scientific and technical building blocks of our economic leadership are eroding at a time when many nations are gathering strength." President Bush has also jumped onto the competitiveness issue and recently proposed increases in funding certain science programs. (He has not, however, reversed a steady decline in funding for biomedical sciences.) Some speak of these new challenges with an air of fatalism. The national academies' report points out that China and India combined graduate 950,000 engineers every year, compared with 70,000 in America; that for the cost of one chemist or engineer in the U.S. a company could hire five chemists in China or 11 engineers in India; that of the 120 $1 billion-plus chemical plants being built around the world one is in the United States and 50 are in China.

There are some who see the decline of science and technology as part of a larger cultural decay. A country that once adhered to a Puritan ethic of delayed gratification has become one that revels in instant pleasures. We're losing interest in the basics—math, manufacturing, hard work, savings—and becoming a postindustrial society that specializes in consumption and leisure. "More people will graduate in the United States in 2006 with sports-exercise degrees than electrical-engineering degrees," says Immelt. "So, if we want to be the massage capital of the world, we're well on our way."

There is a puzzle in all this, however, which is that these trends and features have been around for a while, and they do not seem to have had an impact—so far at least—on the bottom line, which is GDP growth. Over the past 20 years, America's growth rate has averaged just over 3 percent, a full percentage point higher than that of Germany and France. (Japan averaged 2.3 percent over the same period.) Productivity growth, the elixir of modern economics, has been over 2.5 percent for a decade now, again a full percentage point higher than the European average. In 1980, the United States made up 22 percent of world output; today that has risen to 29 percent. The U.S. is currently ranked the second most competitive economy in the world (by the World Economic Forum), and is first in technology and innovation, first in technological readiness, first in company spending for research and technology and first in the quality of its research institutions. China does not come within 30 countries of the U.S. on any of these points, and India breaks the top 10 on only one count: the availability of scientists and engineers. In virtually every sector that advanced industrial countries participate in, U.S. firms lead the world in productivity and profits.

The situation with regard to higher education is even more dramatic. A new report, "The Future of European Universities," from the London-based Center for European Reform, points out that of the world's 20 top universities, 18 are American. The U.S. invests 2.6 percent of its GDP on higher education, compared with 1.2 percent in Europe and 1.1 percent in Japan. The situation in the sciences is particularly striking. A list of where the world's 1,000 best computer scientists were educated shows that the top 10 schools were all American. Our spending on R&D remains higher than Europe's, and our collaborations between business and educational institutions are unmatched anywhere in the world. America remains by far the most attractive destination for students, taking 30 percent of the total number of foreign students globally. These advantages will not be erased easily because the structure of European and Japanese universities—mostly state-run bureaucracies—is unlikely to change. And while China and India are creating new institutions, it is not that easy to create a world-class university out of whole cloth in a few decades.

The American economy is also particularly good at taking technology and turning it into a product that people will buy. An unusual combination of an entrepreneurial culture, a permissive legal system and flexible capital markets all contribute to a business culture that rewards risk. This means that technology is quickly converted into some profitable application. All the advanced industrial countries had access to the Web, but Google and the iPod were invented in America. It is this skill, as much as raw technological brain power, that has distinguished the American economy from its competitors'.

And then there are the demographics. The United States is the only industrialized country that will not experience a work-force or population loss in the coming decades, thanks to immigration. Germany and Japan are expected to see their populations drop by 5 and 12 percent, respectively, between now and 2050. China will also face a demographic crunch. By 2040, it will have a larger percentage of elderly people than the United States. The one-child policy has led to something that China's demographers call the "4-2-1 problem"— four grandparents and two parents will have to be supported by one worker.

The United States' share of the global economy has been remarkably steady through wars, depressions and a slew of rising powers. It was 32 percent in 1913, 26 percent in 1960, 22 percent in 1980 and 27 percent in 2000. With the brief exception of the late 1940s and 1950s—when the rest of the industrialized world had been destroyed—the United States has taken up about a quarter of world output for about 120 years and is likely to stay in roughly the same position for the next few decades if it can adapt to the current challenges it faces as well as it adapted to those in the past.

Don't get me wrong. Today's challenges are real and daunting. The world economy is more open to competitors than it has ever been. Countries around the globe are taking advantage of this new access, or to put it another way, the natives are getting good at capitalism. Technologies like broadband Internet, fiber-optic cable (which means cheap phone calls) and deregulated air travel have made it possible for people from Costa Rica, South Africa and Thailand to compete with Americans for their jobs. And China and India are different from all previous competition because their sheer size—2.3 billion people!—means that they have an almost limitless supply of low-skilled labor on the one hand and a fairly large group of highly skilled workers on the other, both extremely cheap by Western standards. No worker from a rich country will ever be able to equal the energy and ambition of people making $5 a day and trying desperately to move out of poverty.

So what should the United States do? What has it done in the past? First, be scared, be very scared. The United States has a history of worrying that it is losing its edge. This is at least the fourth wave of such concerns since 1945. The first was in the late 1950s, produced by the Soviet Union's launch of the Sputnik satellite. The second was during the early 1970s, when high oil prices and slow growth in the U.S. convinced Americans that Western Europe and Saudi Arabia were the powers of the future and President Nixon heralded the advent of a multipolar world. The most recent one was in the mid-1980s, when most experts believed that Japan would be the technologically and economically dominant superpower of the future. The concerns in each one these cases was well founded, the projections intelligent. But the reason that none of these scenarios came to pass is that the American system—flexible, resourceful and resilient—moved quickly to correct its mistakes and refocus its attention. Concerns about American decline ended up preventing it. As Andy Grove puts it, "Only the paranoid survive."

America's problem right now is that it is not really that scared. There is an intelligent debate about these issues among corporate executives, writers and the thin sliver of the public than is informed on these issues. But mainstream America is still unconcerned. Partly this is because these trends are operating at an early stage and somewhat under the surface. Americans do not really know how fast the rest of the world is catching up. We don't quite believe that most of the industrialized world—and a good part of the nonindustrialized world as well—has better cell-phone systems than we do. We would be horrified to learn that many have better and cheaper broadband—even France. We are told by our politicians that we have the best health-care system in the world, despite strong evidence to the contrary. We ignore the fact that a third of our public schools are totally dysfunctional because it doesn't affect our children. We boast that our capital markets are the world's finest even though of the 25 largest stock offerings (IPOs) made last year, only one was held in America. It is not an exaggeration to say that over the past five years, because of bad American policies, London is replacing New York as the world's financial capital.

The best evidence of this lack of fear is that no one is willing to talk about any kind of serious solutions that impose any pain on society. Politicians talk a great deal about competitiveness and propose new programs and initiatives. But the proposals are small potatoes compared with, say, farm subsidies, and no one would ever suggest trimming the latter to dramatically increase spending on the sciences. The great competitive problems that the American economy faces would require strong and sometimes unpleasant medicine. Our entitlement programs are set to bankrupt the country, the health-care system is an expensive time bomb, our savings rate is zero, we are borrowing 80 percent of the world's savings and our national bill for litigation is now larger than for research and development. None of these problems is a deep-seated cultural mark of decay. They are products of government policy. Different policies could easily correct them. But taking such steps means doing something that is hard and unpopular.

The genius of America's success is that the United States is a rich country with many of the attributes of a scrappy, developing society. It is open, flexible and adventurous, often unmindful of history and tradition. Its people work hard, putting in longer hours than those in other rich countries. Much of this has do to with the history and culture of the society. A huge amount of it has to do with immigration, which keeps America constantly renewed by streams of hardworking people, desperate to succeed. Science laboratories in America are more than half filled with foreign students and immigrants. Without them, America's leadership position in the sciences would collapse. That is why America, alone among industrial nations, has been able to do the nearly impossible: renew its power and stay at the top of the game for a century now. We can expand our science programs—and we should—but we will never be able to compete with India and China in the production of engineers. No matter what we do, they will have more, and cheaper, labor. What we can do is take the best features of the America system—openness, innovation, immigration and flexibility—and enhance them, so that they can respond to new challenges by creating new industries, new technologies and new jobs, as we have in the past.

Our greatest danger is that when the American public does begin to get scared, they will try to shut down the very features of the country that have made it so successful. They will want to shut out foreign companies, be less welcoming to immigrants and close themselves off from competition and collaboration. Over the past year there have already been growing paranoia on all these fronts. If we go down this path, we will remain a rich country and a stable one. We will be less troubled by the jarring changes that the new world is pushing forward. But like Britain after Queen Victoria's reign, it will be a future of slow, steady national decline. History will happen to us after all.

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Unread post by Sentenza » June 12th, 2006, 5:38 pm

Whats your personal opinio on this onee X?

I will elaborate on this later, but i got to say that America will not lead the world forever.

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Unread post by tysuave » June 13th, 2006, 10:59 am

good read and good question but imo we will contenoue to run the world in our lifetime!

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Unread post by Sentenza » June 13th, 2006, 11:26 am

tysuave wrote:good read and good question but imo we will contenoue to run the world in our lifetime!
Most probably, but we ll be witnesses of more and more turbulences on the international political level i would guess.

China is one of the key words.

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Unread post by useless_person » June 16th, 2006, 1:10 pm

America will lead the world into Armaggedon by attacking Iran, starting World War 3 and triggering the Tribulation Period where after it, who knows what type of shit will the world have to suffer because of a president primate! :D

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Unread post by Sentenza » June 17th, 2006, 8:44 pm

useless_person wrote:America will lead the world into Armaggedon by attacking Iran, starting World War 3 and triggering the Tribulation Period where after it, who knows what type of shit will the world have to suffer because of a president primate! :D

History will judge its loosers.

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Unread post by Noog » July 7th, 2006, 8:00 am

Ita an interesting idea in the first place - how long will America lead the world? - I didn't know America did lead the world right now anyhow! Lead in what respect? Power? Cultural capital? Evolved social thinking? Nah man, America doesn't lead the world, its an illusion! but when thinking about 'leadership', it looks like things have gone very wrong over the last years!

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Unread post by punamusta » July 7th, 2006, 11:21 am

MiChuhSuh wrote:
It's interesting that people come to America for college since our college system is generally the best
Just to clarify... Is college same as the university? Or is college the school that you go before going to university?

MiChuhSuh

Unread post by MiChuhSuh » July 9th, 2006, 1:56 pm

haha I forgot some countries have a different category system.

I mean our universities. But we can't really have the same definitions since our school system is different.

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Unread post by blue eyed devil » July 10th, 2006, 4:28 am

When America loses its White majority, it looses its power.

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Unread post by Sentenza » July 10th, 2006, 4:52 am

Mahmoud Siddiqi wrote:Amerika doesn't lead the world in many things, especially CULTURE and many fields of KNOWLEDGE. Other countries such as China and Japan are much more knowledgeable and higher on the latter of TECHNOLOGY than Amerika. You can even find some things in Afrika (Nigeria for example) in the technology field that you still can't find in Amerika. Amerikans simply just don't know these facts so they think they are all powerfull, all advanced.
Well politically and militarically america does lead the world.

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Unread post by MiChuhSuh » July 10th, 2006, 7:43 am

blue eyed devil wrote:When America loses its White majority, it looses its power.
I really doubt that. Besides, most of the country is non-white anyways (if you count white hispanics as non-white)

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Unread post by UmanH-ay » July 17th, 2006, 4:53 am

MiChuhSuh wrote:
blue eyed devil wrote:When America loses its White majority, it looses its power.
I really doubt that. Besides, most of the country is non-white anyways (if you count white hispanics as non-white)
whites are still the majority

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Unread post by Dregsta » July 17th, 2006, 5:08 pm

blue eyed devil wrote:When America loses its White majority, it looses its power.
your absolutely right u dildo head!Lets eliminate all white people and see if it would do any good

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Unread post by Christina Marie » July 18th, 2006, 1:24 am

punamusta wrote:
MiChuhSuh wrote:
It's interesting that people come to America for college since our college system is generally the best
Just to clarify... Is college same as the university? Or is college the school that you go before going to university?

No. There are community colleges and state universities. You can start out in a community college and transfer to a state university. Or....if you have good enough grades in high school you can apply to state universities and HOPE you get accepted.

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Unread post by myDick in your mouth » July 19th, 2006, 6:57 pm

America will go down bcuz its being run by ppl who don't care bout this country. Only themselves. The corporations. politicians at least somewhat and for the most part care bout the general well being and direction of this country. But we all kno money is power. Whoever controls the money controls the country. N that's the problem.

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Unread post by North Face » July 21st, 2006, 8:11 pm

Most superpower dont last very long.

Look at the roman empire
Other great countries which i cant recall but if you look it up you can see the downfall of many powerful countries.

Also look at the germans.
The Spanish colony etc.

Good thread.

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Unread post by Anonymous20 » July 22nd, 2006, 2:36 am

the United States of America and Great Britain will be super powers til the end, til the great tribulation, Har-Megeddon.

If you believe in the Scriptures as I do in Revelations it states:

And there are seven kings: five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet arrived, but when he does arrive he must remain a short while. And the wild beast that was but is not, it is also itself an eighth [king], but springs from the seven, and it goes off into destruction. (Rev 17:10, 11)

According to Biblical history, the first 5 powers that have fallen were, 1. Egypt, 2. Assyria, 3. Babylon, 4. Medo-Persian, 5. Greece. The one that was, was the super power during the time John was writing Revelations and that power was 6. Rome. And the seventh is the dual power of the United States and England. The eight power is the power that seeks peace that was created by the 7th and that power is the United Nations.

So there will be no other power that will overthrow the current politcal arrangement.

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Unread post by Sentenza » July 22nd, 2006, 7:51 am

^^^But what about the powers that were in the meantime?

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Unread post by Christina Marie » July 22nd, 2006, 5:15 pm

alonso wrote:the United States of America and Great Britain will be super powers til the end, til the great tribulation, Har-Megeddon.

If you believe in the Scriptures as I do in Revelations it states:

And there are seven kings: five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet arrived, but when he does arrive he must remain a short while. And the wild beast that was but is not, it is also itself an eighth [king], but springs from the seven, and it goes off into destruction. (Rev 17:10, 11)

According to Biblical history, the first 5 powers that have fallen were, 1. Egypt, 2. Assyria, 3. Babylon, 4. Medo-Persian, 5. Greece. The one that was, was the super power during the time John was writing Revelations and that power was 6. Rome. And the seventh is the dual power of the United States and England. The eight power is the power that seeks peace that was created by the 7th and that power is the United Nations.

So there will be no other power that will overthrow the current politcal arrangement.
Thats right

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Unread post by Sentenza » July 22nd, 2006, 8:49 pm

Interesting...But i have never had that opinion in my lifetime. Got to think about it.

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Unread post by North Face » July 23rd, 2006, 5:55 pm

british are smart asses.

They have evolved countries with good business skills.

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Unread post by Duece » July 28th, 2006, 8:21 pm

blue eyed devil wrote:When America loses its White majority, it looses its power.

-I dont know what to tell about that... Other than the fact there are a lot "White" people in this country that are gonna have to look at themselves in the mirror real soon...

In case you havent realized it yet; unless you are rich and white in this country, then you are getting screwed. Look around you. the same problems that exist in the projects and the barrio exist in the trailer park. it's not really about black (or brown) and white, It's about rich and poor. The problem is that a small percentage of people control a large amount of the wealth. These people (overwhelmingly white males) seriuosly think that because they are fortuneate enough to be in this posistion, the have the right to make decissions for the rest of us.
Saddly there a majority of americans who willing to march right along with their agenda. The combination of the sheep and the sheppard have succesfully steered this country into the state it's in. They have got us fighting each other when we should be uniting to fight them. As long as theese forces are continuing to drive our society, the United States will continue to fail and dissapoint at all levels.
If your really down: get your act together: Unite and Win.

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Unread post by Duece » July 28th, 2006, 8:41 pm

When I think about the impending downfall of the United States, I think about the industrial revolution. In the last few minutes I have watched T.V., talked on the phone, used my microwave and now my computer all under electric lights. Im listening to the ballgame on the radio through my stereo. All of these little things were invented by Americans. Not to mention The truck i drove here in.
You want to know whats wrong with America? it's the fact that we stopped trying to make our lives better. We've settled for modern convience that really has no socially redeeming value. We have gotten soft. we as a people have collectively lost or imagination in almost all area's.
you can see it in the patterns that parade themselves accross our television and computer monitors every day.

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Unread post by Young Nile » August 16th, 2006, 6:01 pm

alonso wrote:the United States of America and Great Britain will be super powers til the end, til the great tribulation, Har-Megeddon.

If you believe in the Scriptures as I do in Revelations it states:

And there are seven kings: five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet arrived, but when he does arrive he must remain a short while. And the wild beast that was but is not, it is also itself an eighth [king], but springs from the seven, and it goes off into destruction. (Rev 17:10, 11)

According to Biblical history, the first 5 powers that have fallen were, 1. Egypt, 2. Assyria, 3. Babylon, 4. Medo-Persian, 5. Greece. The one that was, was the super power during the time John was writing Revelations and that power was 6. Rome. And the seventh is the dual power of the United States and England. The eight power is the power that seeks peace that was created by the 7th and that power is the United Nations.

So there will be no other power that will overthrow the current politcal arrangement.
This is a pretty good read. And interesting point.

Anyone ever read the book. "The United States and Great Britian in prophecy"? This is a very popular book that has been around about 50 some odd years now and has been revised many times. That book speaks on the point that you are making....

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Unread post by BlaKK » August 16th, 2006, 8:58 pm

Capitalism is a system that cannot be reversed. Once the American Economy self implodes (And it will indeed) as will the entire global economy... It's all one large financial institution.

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Unread post by alexalonso » August 17th, 2006, 5:05 pm

BlaKK wrote:Capitalism is a system that cannot be reversed. Once the American Economy self implodes (And it will indeed) as will the entire global economy... It's all one large financial institution.
the Great Tribulation will happen before any other nation becomes a super power. If you read Geopolitics, as i have done, during the last 50 years, Political Scientist have been trying to predict the next super power, and with great consensus, many had theorized Russia, from the 1940s-1980s, but we all no who last that battle. Russia lost the Cold War without one missle or soldier in battle.

Then as Russia fell, many have predicted that China was going to become a Super Power, because they have had nuclear weapons for years. In fact I wrote a paper in 1994 where I predicted that China would become a Hegominic State by 2000, but it never happened and my knowledge of scripture was limited at that time, but the Bible is so accurate with history and prophesy. No other book can explain world events better with striking accuracy, not the book of Mormon, the Koran, or any other book that people believe are divinely inspired.

For the past 500 hundred years Great Brittain & the United States are controling much of the global economy and politics. There was a time when Egypt was the super power.

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Unread post by BlaKK » August 17th, 2006, 5:10 pm

I agree.

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Unread post by BlaKK » August 17th, 2006, 5:16 pm

Once Babylon is disconnected, and self destructs, as will The American Imperium, It will topple to its knees.

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Unread post by dutch » August 19th, 2006, 1:24 am

Spike Lee was in Europe 6 months ago and he was also asked how long America will lead the world.And what will happen if they arent no more.Spike Lee said America don't lead the world because they are a militaire superpower.They lead the world threw music,movies,food.Music=Hip Hop,Pop-music(Justin Timberlake,Britney Spears etc.)Movies=Hollywood,Blockbusters and Food=McDonalds,Coca Cola,Pepsi,Marlboro.Everybody in the world wants to be American,not because they are a militaire superpower,but because we get reminded everyday in our lives how great America is.We get reminded threw those three things=Music,Movies,Food.

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Unread post by Noog » August 21st, 2006, 2:26 pm

Interesting prefix, but America doesn't 'lead' the world. It is the most powerful country in a military sense, the richest, massively influencial through export of music, cloths and fizzy drinks, but 'lead' is a different thing altogether. I don't think any country 'leads' the world today, look at the mess we're in, the evidence is there.

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Unread post by BlaKK » August 21st, 2006, 4:20 pm

Theroretically America does indeed lead the world.

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