It has, indeed, been a very long journey from July 4, 1776, when the U.S Congress defied colonial Britain, proclaimed that “humanity is created equal in their unalienable rights,” and declared a war that would eventually be won against their oppressors.
With 50 states spread over 3.71 million square miles, habouring 318 million people, the U.S has been famously declared the third largest country on earth, labelled the most ethnically diverse, and also referred to, arguably, as the world’s biggest economy.
But not without contradictions, after all since the birth of the 1787 constitution, amended in 1791 when the Bill of Rights was added, the U.S had embarked on “a vigorous expansion across North America through the 19th century, displacing native tribes, acquiring new territories and admitting new states.” The sore point and scar left over by the American Civil War, fought between 1861 and 1865 to liberate African Americans from slavery in the six renegade southern states that had formed the so called Confederate States of America, still provokes mixed feelings among the country’s minorities till this day.
In truth, America’s history deserves some applause. Its involvement in world affairs, historians say, has stabilized global peace. But America’s policies have also created many enemies around the world, made up of those who loathe its seemingly intimidating actions and its propensity for “ordering others around.”
America’s entry into the First World War, for instance, changed the course of events and eventually led its conclusion. Although, President Woodrow Wilson had been hesitant, Germany’s submarine attacks on passenger and merchant ships, plus another deadly attack on several America ships in 1917, left the U.S with no option.
But for the lethal Japanese attack on the U.S naval base at Pearl Harbour in Hawaii in 1941, in which 1,177 lives were lost, America would probably not have entered the Second World War, orchestrated by the same Germany. But history repeated itself when America’s entry fast tracked the defeat of Nazi Germany as it was then known, and the revenge for Japan’s attack happened on August 6, 1945, when U.S Air Force dropped an atomic bomb called Little Boy on Hiroshima, followed by another “plutonic, implosion-type bomb called Fat Man” on Nagasaki three days later. Between 90,000 and 166,000 people died in the former while an estimated 80,000 perished in the latter. Japan promptly surrendered seven days later. The two bombings were the only time in history that nuclear weapons were used in warfare.
America has been involved in regional conflicts ever since, either directly or by providing aid to its allies. It was directly involved in the Korean War fought between 1950 and 1953, in which it supported the southern part of the country and also the Bosnian War fought between 1992 and 1995. America’s backing for Israel has sustained the tiny country since 1948 when it was created, to the chagrin of the Arab World.
Much of the hatred for America in the Middle East derives its roots from its support for Israel and the Ideological differences, culminating in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, which changed the United States for ever. It took America 10 years to take its pound of flesh from the mastermind of the attacks – Osama Bin Laden.
But imagine a world without America. As the world’s oldest surviving federation, God’s own country is revered for many reasons.
Its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2013 was estimated at $16 trillion, 23 per cent of the global overall, with an economy fuelled by, according to Wikipedia, “abundance of natural resources (and) high worker productivity.” Then, America accounts for about 41 percent of the global military spending. Its military budget in 2011 was more than $700 billion and the proposed budget for same, was about $553 billion in 2012.
As at 2008, America’s armed forces personnel, both on active duty and in the reserves, numbered 2.3 million. It is understood that the U.S can rapidly deploy troops through its large Air Force’s fleet of transport aircraft and its 865 bases all over the world. America’s air power is second to none. The vanquished Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein got a good dose of it in 2003.
Yet, America is that land where dreams are accomplished. Despite the destitute men and women on Market Street in San Francisco and the Times Square in New York City, America it was which produced the legendary Martin Luther King, foremost Civil Rights Leaders; Bill Gates, who introduced personal computers; the late Steve Jobs, who changed the world with Apple computers; the youthful Mark Zuckerberg of the Facebook fame and ultimately, Barack Hussein Obama, who unbelievably, was elected the first African-American and 44th President of the United States. Yet, African Americans constitute only 12.6 per cent of the population.
The country has also produced 349 Nobel Peace Prize winners. According to the 2014 Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, the first best nine are America Universities, with Harvard University leading the pack.
At an event to mark the milestone in Lagos, the U.S Ambassador to Nigeria Mr. James Entwistle harped on further improvement of the U.S/Nigeria relations. Entwistle had earlier told an ecstatic crowd at the get-together in Abuja, that free and fair elections, economic partnerships, health, security cooperation and youth empowerment would remain the core of “our robust engagement with Nigeria.”
He said the U.S wanted Nigeria to win its war on terrorism, on health, through massive support for the treatment and prevention of the spread of HIV and AIDS, in addition to helping to build Nigeria’s capacity to address the disease.
He also stated that his country was deeply committed to helping Nigeria towards holding free, fair, peaceful and credible elections in 2015.
According to the office of the United States Trade Representative, Nigeria is currently America’s 35th largest goods trading partner, with $18.2 billion worth of trade in 2013. The U.S trade deficit with Nigeria was $5.2 billion last year. U.S goods export to the country in 2013 stood at $6.5 billion, about 28.8 per cent more than the previous year.
Also, U.S foreign direct investment in Nigeria stock was $8.2 billion in 2012, up 53.6 per cent from 2011.
By Dan Nzelogu (KSM)
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