Nikos Konstandaras at PostGlobal

Nikos Konstandaras

Athens, Greece

Nikos Konstandaras is managing editor and a columnist of Kathimerini, the leading Greek morning daily. He is also the founding editor of Kathimerini’s English Edition, which is published as a supplement to The International Herald Tribune in Greece, Cyprus and Albania. He worked as a correspondent for The Associated Press from 1989 to 1997 before joining the Greek press and has reported from many countries in the region. Close.

Nikos Konstandaras

Athens, Greece

Nikos Konstandaras is managing editor and a columnist of Kathimerini, the leading Greek morning daily. He is also the founding editor of Kathimerini’s English Edition, which is published as a supplement to The International Herald Tribune in Greece, Cyprus and Albania. more »

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Dear Candidates: Your Country on the Brink

ATHENS - In the juggernaut that is a U.S. presidential election, it may be easy for the candidates to forget that the world is bigger than their constituency. Yet the winner will be called upon to take decisions that will determine the future not only of his or her country, but of the whole world. There is nothing new in this: for decades the United States has been the single country that makes the greatest difference in world affairs. What the new president will face, though, is the challenge of governing a country that stands on the brink of decline or revival – one that faces greater domestic and international challenges than ever before, at exactly the time that its powers are diminished and the confidence of its people shaken by economic crisis and military misadventure.

The United States remains the most powerful country the world has known, but the events since 2001 have shown that, superpower that it is, it is still just one country in a world of countries. Its military can do nothing on its own, because it has discovered as so many great powers before it that winning a war is far simpler than imposing peace. The last few years have also shown that the values of which Americans are deservedly proud can very easily be undermined by the actions of its own officials. The economic foundations of the nation’s well-being can be rocked by the same short-sightedness of regulators and avarice of financiers that plague lesser nations.

The United States, the great innovator, has helped create a world in which every nation and every individual is empowered as never before in the long tale of the human race. Democracy, capitalism and the Internet have shortened every distance and eliminated the time it takes for gunshot or a statement to be heard around the world. Much of the chatter is about how America is no longer omnipotent nor isolated from the woes that are the fate of all men. The new president will have to lead from the front now, like a great general, to persuade the rest of the world to follow. Preaching to the nations from splendid isolation will no longer do. The United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, NATO and other vehicles of U.S. influence are no longer to be taken for granted as submissive organs. Today every country has an opinion and an agenda.

America will have to find new forms of leadership in order to guide the world toward where it wants to go. To do so, the candidates for the U.S. presidency must have a clear vision not only for the United States and their place in the world, but for the world itself.
It will take a great man or woman to unite a nation that has tasted the poisoned fruit of partisan fanaticism. Only this will allow him or her to lead a world that no longer lives in awe of American power. America’s power will now depend on how it restores its global influence and what new international mechanisms it establishes for keeping peace and regulating the world’s economy. Only justice at home and abroad can achieve a viable result.
My message to the new president, in short: Welcome to the world!

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