By “All that” I mean the “American Empire.” It is becoming increasingly clear that the United States has managed to slide quite a long way down on the scale of “greatest nations on earth,” “superpowers,” “shining lights on the hills,” “Exceptionalism,” “International esteem,” and certainly “Moral example.” We are, I think, well on the way to ex superpower.
The latest example of our rapidly diminishing stature in world affairs and morality has to be the case of Edward Snowdon, just given asylum in Russia against our wishes, threats, and pleas. The White House and members of Congress are outraged that Russia did not do our bidding and return Snowdon to face American “justice.” But what, pray tell, after our treatment of Bradley Manning, would anyone expect them to do? They (rightly) ignored our (dishonest) promise that if he were returned he would not be tortured or killed. They know our definition of torture is anything we wish it to be, that we have been routinely doing it all over the world, that we certainly did it to Manning, and that we, in fact, ignore international law anytime we please, especially when it comes to the perennial Israeli war crimes and thefts of Palestinian land and water. I can’t see that Russia had any other choice but to give Snowdon asylum, and making it for one year is probably the best they could do until they see what the future may bring.
It is not only the Russian snub, by any means, that is a measure of our diminishing stature in the world. We are now completely persona non grata in Latin America. Having finally thrown off the yoke of American oppression and exploitation, Latin American countries have been thumbing their noses at us fairly regularly of late. Our latest ham-handed demand that our European allies not allow Bolivian flights over their territory (another blatant violation of international law) seems to have reinforced the view that we are the premier international bully. We don’t seem to be doing too well in the Mideast either, having demanded Assad step down only to be ignored, both sides of the Egyptian turmoil seem to hate us, and, of course, everyone knows we are not an honest broker when it comes to the Israeli/Palestinian problem. In short, we don’t seem to be scoring any points anywhere in foreign relations.
Of course there is also the fact that we have obviously fallen far short of our previous positions on almost everything: education, health care, infrastructure, even government. I have no doubt that other countries are watching with glee our abject failure to govern ourselves, the spectacle of watching ignorant officials attacking abortion, evolution, global warming, women’ health, health care, unions, minimum wages, and etc. Where we once were number one at many things we are number one at nothing now, other than idiocy, chaos, and poverty. I have little doubt that they regard American news broadcasts in the same category as Disney cartoons, and rightly so.
Much of this mishmash of problems obviously has to do with the absence of some overriding authority with the power to act quickly and decisively when confronted with serious problems that threaten the nation. In our so-called “democracy” nothing can be done except to wait for the next election cycle and hope for the best. The current Tea Party control of the Republican Party is a good case in point. There seems to be little doubt they desire to bring down the Obama administration, especially Obamacare, and apparently are willing to shut down the government if need be. But the Obama administration is the government, and it cannot function with one party simply refusing to cooperate in any way. Thus there is a fatal flaw in our form of government, it is far too slow to deal adequately with problems that need immediate attention. I assume this stems from the fact that the founding fathers never imagined there could be a situation when one party in a two party system would simply refuse to govern, when the national interest would be abandoned in favor of the selfish interests of a few. A genuine revolution has always been thought unthinkable in the United States. It may becoming at least thinkable now that the extremes of wealth have become so obscene.
We have two American flags always: one for the rich and one for the poor. When the rich fly it means that things are under control; when the poor fly it means danger, revolution, anarchy.