“High office teaches decision making, not substance. It consumes intellectual capital; it does not create it. Most high officials leave office with the perceptions and insights with which they entered; they learn how to make decisions but not what decisions to make.” ~ Henry Kissinger in his book White House Years.
Kissinger’s saying is true not only for individuals but also for nations. When a nation has raced past every other nation in the world, and has become a superpower, it acquires the capacity to take quick decisions on geopolitical issues but it becomes bereft of the capacity to create new intellectual capital. It loses the capacity to learn from past mistakes and its political culture becomes ossified.
The more powerful the nation, the greater is the decline in its intellectual capabilities. Absolute power not only corrupts absolutely, it dumbs absolutely.
A few decades as a superpower is enough to make a nation corrupt, insecure, and intellectually feeble. What kind of decisions can we expect from a superpower that is at the zenith of its power? These decisions will be of the calibre of the inept decisions that Emperor Caligula made for the Roman Empire during his reign of four years (16 March 37 – 24 January 41).
After the Second World War in 1945, America became the world’s superpower. In the same period, the country lost its capacity to create intellectual capital. The quality of American decision making has been declining since 1945. America was the architect of the worst political, economic, environmental, and medical disasters which struck the world after 1970. Instead of creating peace and prosperity, America’s decisions have led to new conflicts and tyrannies.
The biggest nightmare for the Americans is not communism or terrorism. What they truly fear is that some non-Western nation will become more developed than the West. What they are truly after is global power. They intend to maintain Western hegemony perpetually. The foreign policy decisions that America has made after 1970 have led to disastrous outcomes, especially in the non-Western nations.
For the American establishment power is an aphrodisiac. (Kissinger has famously observed, “Power is an aphrodisiac”). While the Americans relish their aphrodisiac, their bad decisions destroy the lives of the folks in poor and developing countries.