Yes it’s true, the United States really is the greatest country in the world – but in what? – Stop the War Coalition

Wow, I just came across this article and thought it worth sharing.  I think it throws up some really interesting issues.  Check it out and let me know what you think. Yes it’s true, the United States really is the greatest country in the world – but in what? – Stop the War Coalition.

AMERICAN politicians are fond of telling their audiences that the United States is the greatest country in the world. Is there any evidence for this claim?

Well, yes. When it comes to violence and preparations for violence, the United States is, indeed, No. 1.

In 2013, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the U.S. government accounted for 37 percent of world military expenditures, putting it far ahead of all other nations. (The two closest competitors, China and Russia, accounted for 11 percent and 5 percent respectively.)

From 2004 to 2013, the United States was also the No. 1 weapons exporter in the world. Moreover, given the U.S. government’s almost continuous series of wars and acts of military intervention since 1941, it seems likely that it surpasses all rivals when it comes to international violence.

This record is paralleled on the domestic front, where the United States has more guns and gun-related deaths than any other country.

study released in late 2013 reported that the United States had 88 guns for every 100 people, and 40 gun-related deaths for every 400,000 people―the most of any of the 27 economically developed countries surveyed. By contrast, in Britain there were 6 guns per 100 people and 1 gun-related death per 400,000 people.

Yet, in a great many other areas, the United States is not No. 1 at all.

Take education.

In late 2013, the Program for International Student Assessment released a report on how 15-year old students from 65 nations performed on its tests. The report showed that U.S. students ranked 17th in reading and 21st in math. An international survey a bit earlier that year by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that the ranking was slightly worse for American adults. In 2014, Pearson, a multinational educational services company, placed the United States 20th in the world in “educational attainment”―well behind Poland and the Slovak Republic.

American healthcare and health fare even worse.

In a 2014 study of healthcare (including infant mortality, healthy life expectancy, and mortality from preventable conditions) in 11 advanced industrial countries, the Commonwealth Fund concluded that the United States ranked last among them. According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. healthcare system ranks 30th in the world.

Other studies reach somewhat different conclusions, but all are very unflattering to the United States, as are studies of American health. The United States, for example, has one of the world’s worst cancer rates (the seventh highest), and life expectancy is declining compared to other nations.

An article in the Washington Post in late 2013 reported that the United States ranked 26th among nations in life expectancy, and that the average American lifespan had fallen a year behind the international average.

What about the environment? Specialists at Yale University have developed a highly sophisticated Environmental Performance Index to examine the behavior of nations. In the area of protection of human health from environmental harm, their 2014 index placed the United States 35th in health impacts, 36th in water and sanitation, and 38th in air quality. In the other area studied―protection of ecosystems―the United States ranked 32nd in water resources, 49th in climate and energy, 86th in biodiversity and habitat, 96th in fisheries, 107th in forests, and 109th in agriculture.

These and other areas of interest are dealt with by the Social Progress Index, which was developed by Michael Porter, an eminent professor of business (and a Republican) at Harvard. According to Porter and his team, in 2014 the United States ranked 23rd in access to information and communications, 24th in nutrition and basic medical care, 31st in personal safety, 34th in water and sanitation, 39th in access to basic knowledge, 69th in ecosystem sustainability, and 70th in health and wellness.

The widespread extent of poverty, especially among children, remains a disgrace in one of the world’s wealthiest nations. A 2013 report by the United Nations Children’s Fund noted that, of the 35 economically advanced countries that had been studied, only Rumania had a higher percentage of children living in poverty than did the United States.

Of course, the United States is not locked into these dismal rankings and the sad situation they reveal about the health, education, and welfare of its citizens. It could do much better if its vast wealth, resources, and technology were employed differently than they are at present.

Ultimately, it’s a matter of priorities. When most U.S. government discretionary spending goes for war and preparations for war, it should come as no surprise that the United States emerges No. 1 among nations in its capacity for violence and falls far behind other nations in providing for the well-being of its people.

Americans might want to keep this in mind as their nation embarks upon yet another costly military crusade.

8 thoughts on “Yes it’s true, the United States really is the greatest country in the world – but in what? – Stop the War Coalition

  1. Swarn Gill

    Personally I think that a bigger part of the problem in the U.S. is American excpetionalism. All of these things are so true, but yet the message spread by the President on down is the the U.S. is the greatest nation in history. If you were an individual and you were constantly being told you were the best ever, even though you weren’t, how likely would you be to ever self-correct your problems. America can simply do no wrong. We don’t make mistakes here. I think many of us here would have supported being in Iraq if they were just honest afterwards and said “Hey we got some bad intelligence, there were no WMD’s, but we’re there now and we have to finish the job, because it’s the morally responsibility thing to do so”. Something like that. If country were people, America would be like an unruly 16 year old; headstrong and you are unable to convince them that they are heading for the tip of the iceberg because they are so convinced they are right about everything. Here the attitude is, everybody has something to gain by us, but we have nothing to gain from anybody else. I fear the only way the U.S. will get a dose of humility is for things to get a lot worse.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Sound of Summer Post author

      You are absolutely right of course. Believe me though this isn’t just a US thing. Our kids in the UK are still fed a historical diet of our Colonial and Empirical past. We are fed the line that we are not the biggest or most powerful but we are ‘the best’.

      In many ways we are the 51st State. UK prime Ministers fall over themselves to support the USA in everything the President wants to do. It is always a case of we will stand ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with the USA because of the so called ‘Special Relationship’.

      The UK tries to constantly ‘punch way above it’s weight’. We seem unable to accept that the days of the British Empire are consigned to the history books and that we are now simply a small overcrowded, overstretched European nation. We hold onto the USA’s coat tails in the mistaken belief that it somehow affords us some sort of reflected credibility.

      Sadly our joint foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, serves only to fuel hatred towards our nations and to increase the radicalisation that we claim to be tackling in the so called ‘War on terror’.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Swarn Gill

        Well said. I suspected the UK had similar attitudes, and know there was that “special relationship” with the US, but didn’t want to speak about something I wasn’t positive about.

        The US and British relationship goes back along way to fuck up things in the Middle East. For along time the Brits were the ones causing most of the trouble there. I read a story about how in the 50’s the UK almost invaded Iran when the leader of Iran wanted to nationalize their resources (i.e.oil) and take it out of the hands of the Brits who owned most of it. The U.S. States provided support by telling them, hey you don’t have to go to war, we’ll just stage a coup. And the CIA did just that.

        It’s really all about the oil, and controlling that resource. And after 80 or so years of the west (UK and US) messing with that region, things are a disaster, and the fact that the US and UK think they can go in and fix it…with their military operations is sort of the height of ridiculousness.

        By the way, I am a Canadian, so I do feel more connected to the UK than I do to the US, even though I’ve been living in the US for 19 years now. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The Sound of Summer Post author

        Oil and Arms!

        When I joined the Navy back in the late 1970’s I trained alongside young men from Iran & Iraq. They were being trained to operate the ships and weapons that we sold them.

        Wind the clock on a few years and they are the Axis of evil. I guess they stopped buying our weapon systems. Instead we sell them to ‘friendly’ nations who sell them to Iran & Iraq.

        It amazes me that the politicians think we are all too stupid to see through it all.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Swarn Gill

        In some ways we would have been better off just attacking them with our troops instead of meddling with their politics, because your right. By virtue of us getting them to fight amongst themselves and supporting rebels, we have given the country vast amount of weaponry and the extremism is the doing of the UK and the US.

        I think many people realize the importance of depending on our own national resources now, but corporations have too big a foothold into politics to let that happen easily when there is so much money to be made off the middle east.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. fantasticbetty2014

    I think this was a very well-written piece, it is tragic and sad because your assessments of my dearly loved and once glorious country are correct. I, and many others, pray regularly for the US, our people and leaders. We have lost our way. The potential to restore our greatness is still there, but it is a fading, rapidly. Personally, I am very pessimistic for our future. Even with that being said, I love it here and would not live anywhere else and will continue to pray and work to change what I can.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Sound of Summer Post author

      Hi Betty,
      as I am sure you are already aware I am not in anyway anti-american. I love a lot about america.

      My concerns are that the USA and my own country (UK) are far too willing to get involved in other countries problems and politics. This has constantly drawn us into conflict since WW2. If we kept our noses out of other peoples business we could spend less on arms and war and more on improving life for everyone in our own countries, especially for the disadvantaged.

      Believe me things (politically and economically) here in the UK are pretty crappy too. Hopefully things will start to look up soon. 🙂



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