Home Ground

How superhero myths do not help superpowers

Stripping away the myths surrounding America helps Singaporeans understand country’s ties with the superpower better

The idea of America has a larger-than-life mindshare in many people's minds, thanks to its dominant economic position and the strength and prevalence of its entertainment-industrial complex. PHOTO: AFP
New: Gift this subscriber-only story to your friends and family

All over the world, commentators have been excoriating the United States for its poorly executed departure from Afghanistan that now leaves it scrambling to evacuate American citizens and supporters out of Taleban-controlled territory. Doubts are being expressed about the commitment of the US to its allies. Through it all, a sense of disappointment prevails in many comments.

I don't wish to go into the specifics of the Afghanistan situation and whether the withdrawal was a strategic mistake, or a good decision poorly executed, or what Singaporeans can learn from it. (On that, retired diplomat Bilahari Kausikan has reminded Singaporeans of the hard truths of international relations: Countries act out of their core interests, not altruism, and treat others as tactically expendable. So while acknowledging the US role as a stabiliser in the region, Singapore has never relied on it to "expend blood or treasure" to defend us. Instead, Singapore must have the capability and will to defend itself.)

Already a subscriber? 

Read the full story and more at $9.90/month

Get exclusive reports and insights with more than 500 subscriber-only articles every month

Unlock these benefits

  • All subscriber-only content on ST app and straitstimes.com

  • Easy access any time via ST app on 1 mobile device

  • E-paper with 2-week archive so you won't miss out on content that matters to you

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.