The U.S. dominates where it matters, too. Our economy is too big to fail, and our growth has often (as during the late ’90s Asian meltdown) propped up the global economy. Meanwhile, other countries know that to compete, they’ve got to play by our rules. That’s why free trade is now promoted by the leaders of most growing economies (except, increasingly, here in Washington). So, in the end, maybe we’re making too much of this supposed anti-Americanism.
After all, France and Germany are now governed by the pro-U.S. Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, respectively. Pro-American Tony Blair was replaced this year by equally pro-American Gordon Brown as British prime minister. Even the incoming Australian prime minister, who wants to pull his country’s troops from Iraq, announced that he’d “emphasized to President Bush the centrality of the U.S. alliance in our approach to future foreign policy.”
However, it couldn’t hurt our image if we started losing some games.
The British built a global empire, introduced cricket throughout their dominions (a game that could only have been spread at gunpoint) then watched as their colonists steadily improved their skills on the pitch. These days, teams from India regularly celebrate victories over the hapless English. Yet, while focusing on their cricket, the Indians went decades without bothering to rebel against the relative handful of British soldiers sent to garrison their land. Sport was an opiate for the masses.
We won the ground war against Saddam Hussein in 2003 and, thanks to the surge, we seem to be on the cusp of defeating the insurgency that followed. But we don’t need to win everything.
So maybe next year, our bridge players should leave their signs at home and instead build a bridge to others by losing to them at cards. That way we’d all have something to feel good about.