"RoW" stands for "Rest of the World". I was initially going to entitle this topic "US and RoW", with "US" standing for "United States", but the change to a lower-case "s" makes it more general. It also brings a change of viewpoint, since I, the writer, am clearly included in "Us" although as a European (specifically, a Scot) I am not included in "US".
The US stands apart from all or most of the RoW, or at any rate the rest of the developed world, in many respects - including its spelling of English words, its use of imperial rather than metric units and of its own paper sizes rather than the ISO ones, and its present government's attitudes to a number of issues (on all of which, as far as I know, I disagree with it), such as gun ownership, capital punishment and the human contribution to global climate change. It is also currently the most powerful nation in the world in military, economic, political and cultural terms. [I am writing this in October 2006. Maybe in a few decades some or all of these things will have changed.] I think these facts are related: only a very powerful nation (or one that is unconcerned about its position in the world or determined to be aloof from it) can afford to ignore everyone else to such an extent. I dare say Britain behaved with a similar degree of arrogance when it had an empire, as did Rome, and any of a list of other major powers in between.
Returning from "US" to "Us", and broadening the topic from the contrast between a dominant nation and the rest to the contrast between any nation, or indeed any distinctive group, and the rest, I suppose there is a general human tendency to think in "them and us" terms - to divide the world into two parts and identify oneself with one part in opposition to the other. Up to a point this is harmless, and is part of having a sense of identity which is a good thing; but taken too far it leads to enmity, hatred, a refusal to understand or learn from others, and war, and that I consider definitely bad.
For a small nation with a more powerful neighbour, such as Scotland, the "them and us" contrast takes a rather different form: it's not my country against the rest of the world, but my country against its neighbour, with the rest of the world possibly on my country's side through its resentment of my neighbour's power or its sympathy with the underdog - hence the Scottish tendency to support not only the Scottish team but whatever team is playing against England.
Lest I be misunderstood, especially by US citizens, I should say that there are things I like about the USA as well as things I dislike. (For that matter, there are things I like about England!) The United States' tradition of a positive, "can-do" attitude and an emphasis on individual freedom and initiative is a healthy antidote to some of the less beneficial aspects of the typical British mindset. Relatedly, the US is the source of much of the most advanced science and technology in the contemporary world, which can and should enrich the human race as a whole - the Internet being an important example.
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