Globalization – growth of worldwide networks of interdependence – is not a new concept. Countries have been intertwined for centuries. Globalization IS NOT Americanization. America was created through globalization (Columbus) and benefits from it, but is not the only source of globalization. Major effects of globalization that are “blamed on” America:
* The spread of Christianity (preceded America’s existence)
* English language as dominant language (spread by Britain)
* AIDS epidemic (started in Africa and Asia)
* Music and video games (owned predominantly by British and Japanese companies)
Some of our laws and practices are commonly praised (FDA and SEC regulations) as protection enhancers, while others (right to bear arms) cause others to view us with hostility.
U.S. “soft power” is largely responsible for information revolution and frequently adopts the practices and culture of other countries, while acting as a filter for what will be successful and what will fail.
Globalization also IS NOT universality. In fact, it is a major cause of inequity between the rich and the poor, the haves and have-nots. Globalization is not as broad as most people think – national boundaries are more open but not irrelevant; religious beliefs and economic equality are not universal and often the cause of conflict. Globalization comes in many forms:
* Smallpox spread from Egypt in 1350 BC to the Americas in the 15th and 16th Centuries.
* Exports of crops benefited Europe and Asia and agricultural technology helps farmers around the world.
* Global warming has been caused by pollution from countries across the globe, not just the U.S.
* Military globalization kept the peace during the Cold War because both sides realized the scale of such a conflict.
* The four major religions (Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam) have spread worldwide.
* Democracy has widely expanded over the last century.
The advent of welfare support has made economic globalization more acceptable. The U.S. is a major instigator and beneficiary of globalization, but it cannot be controlled. Even if economic de-globalization occurred, military and environmental globalization would continue to prosper.
Globalization has contributed to the rise in power of the United States, but at some point it may dilute this power. The United States has been called the “hub” of the network of globalization, with other nations as “spokes” that are controlled by the U.S. There is some truth to this statement, as the U.S. is central to the forms of globalization:
* Economic (largest capital market)
* Military (only country with global military reach)
* Social (heart of pop culture)
* Environmental (biggest polluter and political influence)
There are four reasons this depiction is inaccurate.
* Militarily, the hub-and-spoke model is accurate. However, the U.S. is usually called in to assist other countries when they have a threat by one of their neighbors. Economically, Japan and Europe also play major roles in international business. American policies regarding endangered species in Africa and the rain forest in South America are not readily accepted, thereby reducing the effect of American influence.
* The U.S. is still vulnerable to attack, as witnessed by September 11, 2001. Despite our military force, the U.S. will still be vulnerable to unconventional uses of force. Our economic force cannot keep financial crises from happening worldwide. America exports more culture than any other country, but it also imports more than any other country. Environmentally, the U.S. is not the only polluter of the environment. Therefore, even costly adjustments to control emissions would not change the emissions of other countries.
* There are other important contributors to globalization. Japan, Britain, and Germany are vital to global markets. The U.S. is not as influential socially or politically in Central Asia as Russia. Nor is it more influential in France than Paris is. As China’s power increases, the U.S. will become less and less influential than it currently is.
* With the advent of the information revolution, the “spokes” will rely less on the “hub” and more on each other, thereby reducing the power of the United States.
The power of the Internet has allowed the United States to expand its power across the globe. However, it is believed that in 2010, China will have more users of the Internet than the U.S. This will allow China to stretch its power well beyond its borders, while reducing the power of the United States.