‘It can be argued that the American educational system, and American universities more specifically, are unprecedented incubators of knowledge.’ Yale University’s Berkeley College, New Haven, Connecticut (Kathryn Donohew Photography via Getty Images)

What Led to America’s Greatness?

Al-Etihad, UAE, July 4

Whether one loves or hates the United States of America, there is no denying that the US is nothing short of the world’s greatest empire. Some even argue that its influence may have exceeded that of the Roman Empire 2,000 years ago. In honor of July 4, the date on which the United States celebrates its Independence Day, let us return to one of the most important questions of our time: How did America achieve such an unprecedented level of greatness in just 243 years? How did it become such a strong superpower in a short period of time compared to the world’s greatest empires? Before attempting to provide an answer to this question, perhaps we should consider the idea of “greatness” and what it means. By “greatness,” we imply military power, economic wealth and social cohesion. In the context of the United States, some argue that America has the best minds in the world, that it possesses the most sophisticated weapons and technology, or that its economy – as President Trump boasted just a few days ago – is the strongest in the world. But all these are not measures of America’s greatness; they are simply a reflection of the fact that America has succeeded in putting itself on the path of producing knowledge and generating innovative ideas. So where did America find its ideas that made it the great nation it is today? It can be argued that the American educational system, and American universities more specifically, are unprecedented incubators of knowledge. These institutions helped turn American society into a powerful engine of innovation. Another path to greatness has been intellectual immigration to the United States. This was due to the rise of Nazi Germany and the persecution of many scientists who fled Europe and sought refuge in America. The United States welcomed these scientists with open arms. They became the backbone of American research institutions and military innovation, including the famous Manhattan Project, which helped Washington produce the first nuclear weapons. What’s more, the United States also benefited from a culture of philanthropy, which further fueled academic and scientific innovation. Rockefeller and Carnegie are just two examples of wealthy families who supported the arts and sciences in the United States. Therefore, while the exact sciences were booming, social sciences, humanities and the arts also grew into important fields. Sociology, anthropology, economics and political science were enriched by the entry of a group of immigrant writers and thinkers into the American academic world for the first time in large numbers. Therefore, what we can confidently say is that America’s greatness stems from its intellect. This is the secret of its domination of our world today. What makes America a candidate for further progress is that it does not stop at the challenges of the present, but is ever busy with solving the dilemmas and problems of the future. In this regard, it is truly a beacon for modernity and progress for the entire world. – Amil Ameen (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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