The third impression I came away with is the widespread view in Europe, as well as among some Americans, that the U.S. has suffered a huge, almost incalculable, loss of “moral authority” (its worth recalling that we heard much the same thing during the Reagan years). The evidence cited is always the same: Guantanamo Bay, rendition and secret prisons, and waterboarding. They are invoked like an incantation. The effect of this is that you would think that the United States is among the leading violators of human rights in the world.From the comments:
I currently work with a Canadian with whom it is impossible to have an extended conversation on any subject, whether it be medicine or rock music, as he invariably finds a way to insert some anti-US remark — when confronted on this after some months of enduring it, he said indignantly and evidently seriously that “You have to to expect this”. He spends much of the day complaining about the U.S. to other members of staff, none of whom are American. They may not initiate the conversations, but they rarely disagree. Most of it is childish: he doesn’t have any new ideas or insights, and he isn’t trying to engage me in a serious, thought-out, view-changing way: it’s just “jingoism, baby killers, too bad Reagan didn’t die, shoot Bush” etc. merely the equivalent of “Yo mama wears combat boots” over and over.and
The next time Europeans do something moral on behalf of someone else will be the first.My particular favorite are those residents of other countries who think it is a particularly significant point that Americans should ask themselves why they are hated - as if the idea has never occurred to us before.
No, and no again. Americans worry about such things obsessively, to my great irritation. For those who do not belief we should submit to the correction of our betters in Europe and Canada, we are not usually unaware of what your criticisms are. We have considered them and found them childish. That is apparently even more unendurable in Davos than our initial disagreement.
The shoe is on the other foot. Americans have considered your criticisms. Will you consider ours?