Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in India in July trying to secure agreements on India’s economic development that are consistent with global climate change policies America is currently evaluating.
The administration’s position seems to be that any changes that yield reductions in carbon emissions we make will be useless without simultaneous and similar policies in India and China. India and China each have a growing middle class which is just beginning to make demands on energy infrastructure that will soon rival consumption patterns in the United States. From a global standpoint, US policy changes alone would be akin to stepping on the brake lightly while China and India hit the gas like a teenager late for curfew. (To its credit, the administration IS using potential arms deals as leverage in its negotiations.)
One of the long-standing arguments against regulatory policies to mitigate carbon emissions and which the administration appears to be making itself is, should Americans make sacrifices that will have negligible positive effects on a global problem but will add financial burden to our business practices, when other nations will be free to expand their economies unencumbered by similar policies?
America is the global leader, that’s why. Not just A global leader; THE global leader. It is in America’s best interest to be an early adopter of new technologies and to push the boundaries of technological advances. Bravely moving ahead, even without the support of others, is what helps to keep the United States at the cutting edge of technology, business growth, economic well being and economic sustainability.
The math doesn’t lie: the day will come when China and India each have larger economies than the United States. But the United States can retain its place as the most RELEVENT and IMPORTANT economy by constantly being at the forefront of innovation and ambition.
That other nations don’t want to be early adopters is expected and unconcerning. Their lack of initiative creates opportunities and leverage for American businesses. As we stay at the cutting edge of innovation and technology, US businesses will continue to attract the best, brightest and most ambitious people from other countries.
America is an exceptional place for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is our belief that we are morally good and confident enough in ourselves to not require validation for our actions. The administration is correct that having China and India simultaneously pursuing similar goals would be the most efficacious way ahead to solve global climate problems. But their unwillingness to join should not be a deterrent to action. In fact, it should spur us on all the more, knowing that we will be creating new technologies and new global businesses that other nations will one day need yet be without.
The United States is still the global leader in new businesses and business practices. Other nations, relying on outdated financial growth paradigms, are only ensuring that their economies will remain a generation behind the times. America’s best way to co-opt India and China to join us is to demonstrate a business model for success, not to sheepishly whine that we can’t do it alone.
I always feared that President Obama’s main weakness would be that he wanted to be liked more than he wanted to lead. It’s “lonely at the top” time, Mr. President. Where will you take us?