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Time Scale

One of the major problems with American foreign policy is that the United States uses a different time scale than much of the rest of the world. Americans want things done now, they live very much in the now, forgetting about the past and ignoring the future.

Americans can’t credit that Iran is building nuclear reactors and the United Arab Emirates are buying up businesses all over the world because they are planning for their grandchildren and the grandchildren of their grandchildren. They know that the oil won’t last forever and they are moving beyond it.

The Chinese don’t deal in time spans of less than five years to do anything, and treat five years like Americans treat days. The Chinese government is not the individual at the top, but the entire bureaucracy that existed before the Party and will continue after the Party disappears.

Americans can’t relate to people still angry about things that happened centuries ago, because we have lost the ancestor worship that is part of the lives of people in other countries. As a nation of immigrants, by coming to the “New World” we broke free of our roots and ancestors. History is not valued by Americans. Many Americans made a conscious decision to break their ties to the past when they came to this country.

Many American corporations think from quarter to quarter. Management doesn’t worry about the long term results of their actions, because they don’t expect to be with the company very long, so any consequences will be someone else’s problem. That’s why senior management always has their severance package nailed down before they accept a job with a new firm.

Think about it: we don’t want to do anything about global warming because we would have to make sacrifices to safeguard future generations.