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Vol 106 / Issue 29

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E ver since he entered the White House, President Obama has spoken often of his vision for America's role in the world. His speech at the West Point graduation May 28 was different. It firmly planted the idea that the United States is the global leader simply for its ability to persuade other nations to join it in solving global issues. He calls this approach "em- powering partners." To be sure, the US will always act on its own against a direct threat to itself. But in tackling world problems, such as the Syrian war or the standoff in Ukraine, the US must act simply as the "hub of alliances," as it has steadily done over the past century. This leader-as-coach role has made the US an exceptional n a t i o n , a l t h o u g h sometimes Britain or France have led in- terventions in world trouble spots. To put meat on the concept, he asked Congress to provide up to $5 billion for a "counterterrorism partnerships fund." The money would be spent to aid countries at risk of becom- ing a launching pad for jihadists. He also hinted at reform of insti- tutions designed by the US after World War II to keep and promote peace. These include the United Nations and World Bank. Lifting human shackles He did not say so, but Mr. Obama's vision is based on an as- sumption that humanity has made progress over the past 70 years on human rights, rule of law, equality, and freedom. With more nations adopting such ideals, the US leads more by persuasion than military action, asserting right more than might. "Because of America's efforts – through diplomacy and foreign assistance, as well as the sacrifices of our military – more people live under elected governments today than anytime in human history," he said. Digital technology such as the Internet has empowered more citi - zens. Opening markets and other advances have lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty. Appealing to 'better angels' Tyranny still exists – such as Russia taking Crimea – but Obama's vision of leadership im- plies that global progress has el- evated human nature to a better state. Such a promise has been proclaimed in the past only to be disapproved by major war. But many scholars claim humans are more interdependent and less divided by kin, clan, tribe, or na - tionality. Or as the late poet Maya Angelou wrote: "I note the obvious differences between each form and type, but we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike." In his 2011 book "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Vio- lence Has Declined," Harvard academic Steven Pinker used data to show that killings and other violent acts have declined over the centuries because people have de- veloped greater self-control, em- pathy, morality, and reason. A rise in intelligence brings about a rise in peace. Other scholars, such as the late Lawrence Kohlberg, have tracked an increase in the ability of humans toward higher states of moral reasoning. Such trends cast doubts on the notion of humans as biochemical puppets, beholden to genes and neurons to define what is good in each individual. Shared task of global order Obama quoted President Ken- nedy about peace needing to be based upon "a gradual evolution in human institutions." As more people and nations evolve toward shared ideals, the task of main- taining international order also becomes more of a shared one. The US, which was so instrumen- tal as a military leader in the 20th century, can take on a new role in bringing nations and people closer. US as partner empowerer Why Obama's vision of the US as global enabler fits the trend in human progress. Sydney, AuStrALiA / The Daily Telegraph End mass exposures of mass gunmen "In the days since the horrifying events in which Anonymous Gun- man, a student from Santa Barbara [, Calif.], went on a rampage to avenge a lifetime of rejection from women, his face has been plastered on websites and news stands across the globe. Which is presumably the very outcome he would have hoped for...," writes Sarrah Le Marquand. "Rather than dwell on the venomous rantings and motivations of a troubled but self-important young man, let's keep the focus on him to a bare minimum." LOndOn / The Guardian The tragedy of a misogynistic culture "Yes, [Elliot] Rodger was a misogynist. He also very likely had mental difficulties, and to say so doesn't diminish the part a misogynistic culture played in this tragedy...," writes Hadley Freeman of the Santa Barbara, Calif., shooter. "Rodger was enabled ... by a culture that exists to validate the feelings of angry, lonely and sometimes mentally unwell men.... Were other factors at play here, too, such as ... a financially straitened mental health system and an American political system cowed by the NRA, lead- ing to too much access to guns? Yes, yes and yes." tOrOntO / The Globe and Mail Social media protests lack longevity "Who's going to be impressed that the [first] lady of the United States, or Malala [Yousafzai], or ... [any other celebrity], is holding up placards [#BringBackOurGirls] or using social media to denounce the marauding zealots? I'm glad so many people care at the moment about the kidnapped girls" held by Boko Haram in Nigeria, writes Gerald Ca- plan as part of a point and counterpoint. "But if the harsh truth be told, their heartfelt entreaties are quite irrelevant to solving the Boko Haram crisis, and long before it's over, you can be sure their interest will have vanished." new yOrk / Al Jazeera America Exploiting schoolgirls for military intervention "Western feminists' efforts to empathize with the suffering and despicable persecution of young women in Pakistan and Nigeria are welcome," writes Rafia Zakaria. "But the positioning of a grownup, liber- ated Western feminism against the simple, naive schoolgirl feminism of brown and black lands, where the girls are imagined as just beginning to scramble for an education and awaiting Western liberation, is a cause for concern.... Western feminists whose intentions are truly to join forces with the underrepresented brown and black feminisms of Africa and South Asia must go beyond singling out schoolgirls and look deeper when liberating women is used as a pretext for military intervention. The state failures that allow such atrocities to occur are not solved by a meddlesome superpower's ... ill-conceived intervention." How the world press sees America T H E V I E W F R O M A B R O A D T H E M O N I T O R ' S V I E W "First the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear." EDITOR: Marshall Ingwerson SENIOR EDITOR: David Cook CHIEF EDITORIAL WRITER: Clayton Jones EDITOR AT LARGE: John Yemma MANAGING PUBLISHER: Jonathan Wells CHIEF STRATEGY AND MARKETING OFFICER: Susan Hackney Founded in 1908 by Mary Baker Eddy p a r t n e r e m p o w T H E M O N I T O R ' S V I E W COMMENTARY p a r a r t n e n e r e m p COMMENTARY THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR WEEklY | June 9, 2014 33

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