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What Is A Superpower?

By Jimmy Carter

Published in the Winter 2011 issue of Tikkun Magazine.

American military expenditures are now equal to those combined for all other nations, and it is good to know that our nation's defenses against a conventional attack are impregnable. It is also imperative that America remain vigilant against threats from terrorists. But the admirable characteristics of a nation are no more defined by its size and physical prowess than are those of a human being.

What are some of the other attributes of a superpower? Once again, they might very well mirror those of a person. These would include a demonstrable commitment to truth, justice, peace, freedom, humility, human rights, generosity, and the upholding of other moral values.

There is no inherent reason that our nation cannot be the international paragon of these virtues. Whenever a person in any nation faces a challenge or a problem, it would be good to have them look to Washington for assistance or as a sterling example.

Our government should be known, without question, as opposed to war, dedicated to the resolution of disputes by peaceful means, and, whenever possible, eager to exert our tremendous capability and influence to accomplish this goal.

We should be seen as the unswerving champion of freedom and human rights, both among our own citizens and within the global community.

America should be the focal point around which other nations of all kinds could marshal to combat threats of global warming and to enhance the quality of our common environment.

We should be in the forefront of providing humane assistance to people in need, willing to lead other industrialized nations in sharing some of our great wealth with those who are destitute.

In achieving all these goals, our great country should strive in every practical way to cooperate with other nations, most of which share these same fundamental ideals. We should also be willing to communicate with those who differ with us on some issues. There is an unprecedented opportunity as all nations face common challenges to use our unequaled influence wisely and with a generous spirit.

There would be no real sacrifice in exemplifying these traits. Instead, our own well-being would be enhanced by restoring the trust, admiration, and friendship that our nation formerly enjoyed among other peoples. At the same time, all Americans could be united at home in a common commitment to revive and nourish the religious faith and historic political and moral values that we have espoused and for which we have struggled during the past two and a half centuries.

I am grateful that Michael Lerner and Tikkun have been advocating this same message for many years, both for the United States and for Israel.

Jimmy Carter was the thirty-ninth president of the
United States.

Also in Tikkun — Q&A with Jimmy Carter; "A Conversation with Jimmy Carter," January/February 2007.

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