Is America's rein as world's biggest superpower over?
IT'S time for America to face reality.
Its days as the world's biggest superpower are numbered, its influence on the global stage is waning, and it needs to accept that it cannot keep going around trying to sort out other country's problems.
That was the message from speakers at the recent Republican National Convention, where Mitt Romney was formally adopted as the party's Presidential candidate.
I'm joking of course. It was nothing of the sort. The word "humility" may have been used in one of the speeches, but there was precious little of that in this breathtaking exhibition of hubris and jingoism.
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Although each of the speakers focused on slightly different issues, their sentiments could all be boiled down into the following: America is great, it can continue to be great, it must, for the sake not just of its own people but for people all over the world, remain the greatest superpower on the planet, and the only thing putting this in jeopardy is a man by the name of Barack Obama.
To raucous cheers Governor Chris Christie told the crowd of his hopes for a "second American century", and former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice insisted that America must retain its military might in order to continue spreading peace and democracy across the globe – and they say the Americans are insular.
It was stirring stuff indeed. Just don't mention Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay or China's booming economy.
The febrile atmosphere inside the convention centre was more like that of a baseball game, as the crowd erupted into fist-pumping triumphalist chants of "USA, USA, USA".
Can you imagine delegates at the Tory Party conference bursting into a spontaneous rendition of Land Of Hope And Glory after hearing David Cameron deliver his keynote speech?
No, neither can I. But then again, maybe that says more about what's wrong with politics in this country, than it does about America.
It's very easy for us stiff upper-lipped Brits to sneer at the over-the-top patriotism displayed by our friends from over the water, no matter how misplaced it may seem.
But a part of me can't help feeling a slither of admiration for a people who feel such pride in their country.
For good or for ill, Britain has shaken off that sense of superiority that came with having an empire spanning the globe.
We accept that Britannia no longer rules the waves.
Indeed, the patriotic pride which swept the London Olympics was more a sense of relief that we had not messed it up like everyone feared, rather than any pretence of British supremacy.
But I wonder if our modesty has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Has our standing in the world shrunk because we think we no longer belong at the top table?
And will the unshakeable self-belief of the Americans ensure that, despite the seemingly unstoppable rise of China, this will be yet another American century?
Chorus of boos welcomes politicians
UNLIKE their American counterparts, the best our politicians can hope for when delivering a speech at a party conference is a lengthy standing ovation.
But a couple of cabinet ministers got an even worse reception last week when they turned up to present medals at the Paralympic Games.
Chancellor George Osborne and Home Secretary Theresa May were both treated to a chorus of boos by sections of the crowd inside the Olympic Stadium,
Now it's fair to say that this government is not the most popular there has ever been, but I think what we saw last week was a sign of the public's general loathing of politicians, regardless of their party colours.
As Games chief Lord Coe, himself a former Tory MP, pointed out, politicians are well used to being cast in the role of pantomime villain.
So it beggars belief that Labour leader Ed Miliband came out in support of the boo boys by saying that they "spoke for Britain."
For I suspect that were he called up for medal presenting duty himself, he would discover exactly what Britain thinks about him, too.