Shutdown is Not the Problem; World Opinion Is


The eminent shutdown of the U.S. government is solvable and
will be solved. There are many partial solutions, paste-ons and gimcracks to keep America financially
whole. Perhaps wounded a bit, but whole.

What is a problem,
is how the world has increasingly come to see us, beginning in the days of the
Clinton Impeachment. Living in Europe, as I did at the time and still do, I
witnessed my European friends in the throes of disbelief that the most powerful nation in
the world could actually contemplate replacing a President because of what, for
them, was a minor event. A sex scandal? The President of France had a mistress and two ‘illegitimate’
children and yet retained both his power and respect.
It shook them, I’ll vouch for that and it was the opening
gun for shakeups yet to come.

911 shocked everyone across the world and immediately brought a
convergence of sympathy and willingness to help America that has not been seen
since. Essentially we drained off and squandered that splendid opportunity by
an ‘either for us or against us
stance that forced America to pretty much go it alone and drove a wedge between
us and world opinion. We lied our way into Iraq under false pretenses and
morphed from victim to bully in the eye-wink of successive administrations.
Then there followed (and continues today) an unprecedented spying on friends
and enemies alike, tethered shamelessly to our stated sense of ‘exceptionalism’
and the Bush Doctrine of ‘preventive attack.’ 

Torture was okay for us, because
we were exceptional. The same was true for our support of (but failure to join)
the International Criminal Court, for fear our leaders might be brought before
them. A double-standard, bred of power and crippling our ability to denounce
criminality.
So the world no longer understood us and that lack of worldwide approval threatens
us far more than al Qaeda, our various ‘wars’ against drugs and terrorism, or our
steady retreat into partisanism. They think Washington has lost the keys to governing
itself. 

Ask yourself how you would feel, if the world’s greatest military
power, a power entirely outside your own
nation’s ability to resist
, lost its sense of reality? Worried, I suspect,
would be the mildest of reactions.

So the world worries over a nation it once idolized as the
world’s best hope for freedom and enlightenment. It knows, or has reason to
hope, we will survive this momentary threat of shutdown. But the question
persists, whether we have lost our ability to lead, even ourselves
Possibly we’re too close to the flame of our own
knee-jerk politics to see the light outsiders perceive. Consumed by the heat of
Sunday talk-shows, distracted by finger-pointing and devoid of leadership at
all levels, we struggle on with our complicated lives, sure in the faith that
America has always found a way. Faith is defined as: A strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human
destiny
.

Less and less, that faith is shared outside the boundaries
of America and that’s the true danger, as the clock ticks toward shutdown.

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