On today’s Wall St. Journal editorial page, Daniel Henninger shares his opinion on America as superpower.
Yes, the military inventory and tactical skills on display for all the world to see right now are one reason the U.S. has sole claim to the title of superpower, but that stuff’s just one piece of it. Similarly, the Caltechs, MITs, Georgia Techs, Boeings, Northrop Grummans, and innumerable small high-tech start-ups that made this extraordinary military technology possible are also just pieces of the more interesting American whole.
The whole is in fact a system–a philosophy of foundational values going back to Ben Franklin and before. It’s a social and political system rooted in mavericks, innovation, risk-taking, open intellectual argument, impatience, creative change, failure, the frontier spirit, competition and a compulsion to get ahead. Every American kid who doesn’t sleep through school eventually knows how the system works. Some go into lifelong opposition to it. Most just go to work–at jobs somewhere inside the tens of thousands of businesses or educational institutions painstakingly built up, piece by piece, year after year, in 50 separate states. That’s the “power” that created the JDAMs and B-2 Stealth bombers.