Is the American eagle becoming two-headed?

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Dmitry Kosyrev) - The contemporary situation in the United States is characterized by conflicting attitudes to key issues. Issues, and attitudes, that have a direct bearing on America's role today and tomorrow.

Here's a classic example. Patricia Sanders, executive director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, has launched, on the Republican's behalf, a campaign to get public support for a third ABM deployment area in Poland and the Czech Republic. The American public is not at all opposed to ABM systems in far-away Europe - this idea enjoys the support of almost 70% of those polled.

But the American public does object to military expenditure and foreign escapades. The House has just cut the allocations for the same ABM systems in Europe by 45%.

It seems at first glance that the Republicans are fighting against the Democrats. But the division is not always between the parties. The week before last, the administration rebuffed an attempt by the Democrats-dominated Congress to set a deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. But it was Barak Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, who declared that he would undertake a military mission on the territory of U.S. ally Pakistan. He would do so without consulting the latter's government, and, judging by all, without pulling out from Iraq, either.

Or take another case. The Democrats and the Republicans submitted similar resolutions to the House to boycott the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing.

At the same time, after the recent collapse of a bridge in Minneapolis, The Washington Post carried a surprising article by John McQuaid who quoted a 2005 report in which "the Federal Highway Administration rated more than 75,000 U.S. bridges, about an eighth of the total, as 'structurally deficient.'"

What does China have to do with American bridges? The explanation is simple. McQuaid writes that the "United States seems to have become a superpower that can't tie its own shoelaces." Why would it want to boycott the Olympics in a country that will become the world's first economy in 20 years?

Hurricane Katrina, which virtually destroyed New Orleans in August of 2005, has become a watershed for the George W. Bush era. It was discovered shortly afterwards that there was not enough money to carry out the proposed program for strengthening the city's protection against flooding. The money had been spent on Iraq.

This was the point of departure for America's current state of mind - the American eagle, like its Russian cousin, is growing two heads. On the one hand, the American nation understands that its power and its opportunities in the world are not limitless; on the other, it does not want to acknowledge this.

Martin O'Malley, governor of Maryland, and Harold Ford Jr, an ex-Congressmen, wrote in The Washington Post: "Bush's failure to solve...America's great challenges has left our country dispirited, disillusioned and divided." Needless to say, both are Democrats.

But this is not only an American problem. Foreign analysts consider this split of U.S. society to be excessive and dangerous. A weak America shaken by domestic disputes may be even more dangerous for the world than an America rushing into military ventures. Excessive pride in one's military might is dangerous both for the country which has it and for the world around it.

But the situation has been reversed in the past. Five or six years before Pearl Harbor, the U.S. armed forces consisted of about three divisions. The U.S. also had its Navy, which was stationed in Pearl Harbor... The events that followed were very nearly disastrous for America's allies, and the world in general.

The United States may not be the world's first power forever. But it will always be an important and powerful country. For this reason, other great powers would like to have a better idea of what the United States is going to do.

Bush's term in office expires in 17 months. This is a very long period, but a transition to a new era in world politics cannot be done quickly.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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