Thanks to my roommates' TV I watch news these days more regularly and also today started to use the "TeVo" feature to record British Prime Minister, Gordon Browns' address to the joint congress session in Washington. I saw the first few minutes and he was all praising US for it's leadership for the past 200 years and all. I hope to watch the rest later (if my TeVo recording trial works).
When people praise America for its greatness and leadership that it has shown so far, the nay sayers tell that 200 years is not that of a long time. My argument is that 200 years is really a long time given the strides of changes we have seen in the past two centuries. In my opinion a lot more recordable and impacting things happened recently. Science has seen tremendous progress mainly because of its impact on our survival abilities. We are more globally connected than ever before. And besides that all these things happened very fast. When the Great Depression that happened in 30s the world was a different place than what it is now. If the economy goes down in one major country then the rest of the world kind of goes down with it and vice versa. Word Wars brought a lot of changes in the world but at a cost of lot of lives. This economic crisis is better than those wars because atleast we are not paying lives. I have strong faith in resilience of the human civilization.
Infact you know I see this crisis as a kind of progress in our civilization because instead of needing "deadly-life-threatening" crisis to become better at survival we just need a "deadly-economy-threatening" crisis to make a new stride in terms of improved survival like becoming more aware of the climate in terms of reusing, recyling and optimizing energy usage etc., becoming more aware that peace and security are more feasible by better means (like giving hope and opportunities) than just killing etc.
It's not the absolute number of years that matters it how much we got done during those years that matters if those years are long enough. So yeah I think the leadership shown by US in the past 200 years is not just beginners luck or random chance but an outcome of a strife towards achieving a principled approach in dealing with human civilization.