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The Yen is Mightier than the Sword

Dr. Wilmer J. Leon Iii | 12/1/2010, 12:42 p.m.
Wilmer Leon

After the Democrats and the Obama administration took a historic beating in the mid-term elections the President left on a 10-day trip to Asia. The President hoped to complete a trade pact with South Korea, convince China to work towards a trade friendly monetary policy, and get the G20 countries to cooperate in removing trade barriers to boost economies and create opportunities on both sides of the Pacific.

By most accounts President Obama was not successful in his efforts. In fact, most of the analysis of this trip indicates that it was a failure. Slate.com called it America Undone: President Obama's disastrous Asia trip reveals the monumental decline in American power; the Times of India characterized it as, Obama's Asian trip shows limits on global stage; ABC News.com defined the Presidents trip as, President Obama Falls Short on G-20 Goals: Failure to Deliver on Key Trade Goals Reveals Limits of American Influence.

Americans must come to grips with the new reality that President Obama found as he met with leaders from China, Brazil, South Korea, and other countries. The foreign policy dynamic has changed. Militarism (for years the U.S.'s greatest export) is being replaced by the economic leverage and power of other developing nations.

After the two World Wars and during the Cold War, the colonial powers and the U.S. were able to expand their domestic economies through military conquest, intervention and threat. Unfortunately too many Americans and American leaders continue to view U.S. security interests in the context of the old military model. In the wake of the Great Recession most U.S. allies and developing nations define their security interests in a broader collaborative yet independent economic context.

The U.S. can no longer attend international summits and conduct trade missions with the perspective of what's solely in America's best interest, demanding access to markets, resources, favorable trade policies, and monetary policy. The U.S. must now work in concert with other countries to structure foreign policy that fits within a frame work that focuses on diverse economic interests; not (as former President Bush 43' stated) "American Internationalism." The Yen (Yuan, Rupee, and Won) are now mightier than the sword.

This reality should be of great concern to the African-American community as it has suffered disproportionately during this Great Recession. According to the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee report, "...weak labor market conditions in the African American community were exacerbated during the Great Recession.

In February 2010, the unemployment rate for African Americans 16 and older was 15.8 percent, 6.1 percentage points higher than the overall unemployment rate. 1 in 5 African American men or 19.0 percent are facing unemployment... African Americans make up one-fifth of long-term unemployed workers... In addition, they account for 22.1 percent of workers who have been unemployed for 52 or more weeks--nearly double their share of the labor force."

The American government is unable to commit the necessary resources to address domestic policy needs because so much of its resources are misdirected towards an outdated Defense budget. Dr. King said in his famous speech, A Time to Break Silence, "I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam (Iraq and Afghanistan) continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such."

As the numbers referenced above indicate, these misguided outdated approaches to foreign policy will continue reeking havoc in the African-American community.

Dr. Clarence Lusane wrote in Race in the Global Era, "the changing world economy 'globalization' is fundamentally remapping the way the world works and black workers are carrying a significant portion of the load. Access to jobs, already disproportionately tenuous for black workers, has become even more constricted in the current era."

America's focus on military strength at the expense of economic strength and stability continues to undermine its domestic security and puts it at odds with the interests of other growing and developing economies. Americans must come to grips with a new paradigm, a new international reality. Gone are the days of might makes right and what's best for America is best for the world. The Yen (Yuan, Rupee, and Won) are now mightier than the sword.

Dr. Wilmer Leon is the Producer/ Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program "Inside the Issues with Wilmer Leon," and a Teaching Associate in the Department of Political Science at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Go to www.wilmerleon.com or email: wjl3us@yahoo.com. www.twitter.com/drwleon