Janice Shaw Crouse

The latest New Yorker magazine (May 2, 2011) includes an article by Ryan Lizza that hits a bulls eye in describing President Obama’s leadership. Lizza quotes an Obama adviser who describes the president’s style as “leading from behind.” Lizza explains, “It’s a different definition of leadership than America is known for, and it comes from two unspoken beliefs: that the relative power of the U.S. is declining, as rivals like China rise, and that the U.S. is reviled in many parts of the world. Pursuing our interests and spreading our ideals thus requires stealth and modesty as well as military strength.”

Let’s run past that again: China’s power is rising while U.S. power is declining. The U.S. is reviled in many parts of the world. Therefore, we have to be modest and use our military strength with stealth as we pursue our interests and spread our ideals. The U.S. is being reviled, and we are supposed to stand by “modestly” and let the falsehoods define us? Somehow the logic doesn’t follow there; the U.S. gains power by acting powerless? We act modestly around those who revile us, even though no nation in the history of the world has so selflessly and sacrificially helped liberate oppressed people? Have the folks spreading these ideas ever interacted with a bully? Most of us learned by 6th grade that you have to stand up to bullies or they will run over you. Experience shows that the only way to counter a falsehood is to loudly speak the truth. How about a reality check?

The United States is the top contributor to the United Nations (U.N.) — giving $6.35 billion to the U.N. in 2009, according to the latest available data compiled by the Obama administration. We overpaid our share of the U.N. peacekeeping budget for 2010-2011.

The U.S. just forked over $150 million in economic assistance to Egypt to help that key U.S. ally transition towards democracy following the overthrow of longtime president Hosni Mubarak.

In spite of budget cuts this year, the U.S. is giving an additional $126.8 million to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This adds to the more than $285 million already given. This money helps refugees return to Afghanistan and Sudan (among other countries) and provides them with basic needs such as water, food, health care, and education. That money is divided: $50 million to the Middle East, $40 million to Africa, and $23 million to Asia.

America is a generous nation. According to Giving USA, American giving reached $303.75 billion in 2009. The average annual household contribution is $2,213, while the mean is $870. Fully 65 percent of American households give to charity.

Janice Shaw Crouse

Janice Shaw Crouse is a former speechwriter for George H. W. Bush and now political commentator for the Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee.
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