Glen Greenwald has an important post today, following up on a previous one. Really, it’s better than the original. He excerpts several opinions from others, including this, from Avedon Carol:
I’ve had the kind of conversations he’s talking about with people from both sides of the spectrum who don’t get this, but we were truly loved and admired, even by people who knew we were not always flawless, and now it’s a very different story — and it’s under the Bush regime that the story had changed.
And I know that some people on the left, including some of my readers, think it’s all to the good that our standing has been so reduced, but I honestly believe that we were an inspiration to other countries that really did try to follow the lead of our ideals and our attempts to live up to them. I’ve seen the way we were held up as an example — and I’ve seen the way the decline of our good example has been held up as “proof” that living up to those ideals is unnecessary. “After all, the Americans are doing it.” But it’s now gone beyond that; America has become another bad example, an object lesson on the infections of power and corruption.
We no longer have standing to criticize other governments that abuse their people; they laugh at the idea that a nation led by barbarians who launch unprovoked attacks on other countries and kidnap (and torture, and kill) people has any authority to lecture others on morality. No one even knows anymore what we mean by “democracy”, or what we are criticizing when we call other governments “corrupt” or “despotic”. We once had the power to influence other governments positively to expand freedoms; those days are gone. And I don’t think that’s a particularly good thing.