Friday, May 21, 2010

London to New London

Enjoying an unusually warm (for London) sunny May afternoon in the park at Grosvenor Square, savoring the beautiful day and the action-packed week of editor-in-chief interviews and meetings with prospective investors. Tired and still a bit sick, but will have a chance to slow down this Sunday night, after the flight home tonight and (another) graduation weekend (this one in New London).

Grosvenor Square offers a bit of Americana in central London. Behind me, the current site of the American Embassy and a large statue of DD Eisenhower frames one corner of the park. To my left, an equally imposing statue of FDR. Several of the wooden benches are inscribed in memory of US servicemen who served in Europe during WW II. All a reminder of the historic link between Britain and America.

After 50 post-war years of extraordinary economic growth and a global realignment of alliances, we now lack a motivating global common purpose. World government? Not going to happen. Global climate treaties? Not until there are at least 70 Democrats in the Senate. Eliminate nuclear weapons? Well, fine, I guess, but not likely to capture the imagination or purposefulness of most of the planet.

As we patch up the holes in the global economic fabric, we lack a leader who points the way forward with a vision for the next ten to twenty years. As the so-called indispensable nation, America is uniquely positioned to lead.

Grosvenor Square recalls a time when one or two nations shaped the destiny of the entire world. Not possible or desirable to turn the clock back. But shouldn't we ask for more than simply the power of inertia to pull us forward?

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