Dear Mr. Almost-President

A French philosopher might not be the first person a politician would turn to for advice. But Bernard-Henri Lévy, France’s premier public thinker, has written an open letter to the future US president that should be required reading for this year’s candidates. Writing in the Huffington Post, Lévy offers a step-by-step guide on how America can maintain its leadership while building healthy international relations and regaining the respect of the rest of the world. No small task, of course, but the ideas he presents make it seem possible.

Lévy begins by asserting that the United States can hang onto its position as the world’s foremost superpower by investing more time and energy into preserving scientific advancement, higher education, and financial services.

As long as the world continues to rely on America in the areas of scientific innovation, training the elite and allocating its assets, the important elements will be safe. This from now on will be your task. And your very first priority.

He goes on to outline ways in which the American president can reach out to Muslim communities, deal with international aggressors such as Russia, and restore faith in politics itself. He acknowledges that these goals will be difficult to reach, and we may not even see their results in the next four or eight years. But the important thing for the next leader is to try “to speak with the language of truth and courage.”

As Mr. Levy puts it, “Anti-Americanism, Mr. Future President, has become a new planetary religion.” Rather than chastise the mistakes of the past, though, Levy’s eloquent letter focuses on healing rifts and making positive steps for the future. The suggestions he makes are both ideological and practical; suggestions that the next commander-in-chief, be he Republican or Democratic, should seriously consider.

For Utne Reader‘s take on how to redeem the United States in the eyes of the world, take a look back at our July-Aug. 2007 issue.

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