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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

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.)

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