There is an aspect to the US image of itself that gets little attention, and that is, the conviction that every other world leader considers being invited to the White House the greatest honor of a lifetime.
US President’s decision to meet with Kim Jong Un was touted over and over again (before, during and after the summit), not as a historic breakthrough that could resolve a sixty-five year old dispute, but as the fulfillment of Kim’s wildest dreams. Now that President Trump has invited President Putin to the White House, the press is torn between framing the meeting as the high point of Putin’s career or the greatest threat to ‘American Democracy’. (The term is now written with two caps, in defiance of the laws of grammar….)
The editor of the left-wing on-line journal, The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald,, recently appeared on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now in the only debate I am aware of about the Helsinki Summit, with the well-known president of the disarmament organization Ploughshares, Joe Cirincione. Thus far, Greenwald is the only media figure to break with the conventional wisdom, destroying one by one the shibboleths about Russia’s sins in the 2016 election, reminding viewers of all the misdeeds America has committed against other countries and individuals in recent memory, from military attacks to achieve regime change to black interrogation sites around the world.
The media’s failure to ever mention American aggression goes hand in hand with the myth that elections prove the sainthood of its democracy. As long as people vote in ‘free and fair’ elections, all is well on the Western Front. Now matter how much money is employed to influence those votes, corporations being equated with ‘persons’ whose ‘free speech’ is guaranteed, elections are ‘it’. And when ‘the people’ elect a thoroughly immoral, ignorant liar, that is no stain on the American system, it’s the fault of a foreign adversary, who now is labelled an enemy!
And because our President embodies the perfection of our ‘democracy’ (not because we are the most aggressive nation on 21st century Earth), any other leader who is granted the privilege of meeting with him, especially if the meeting takes place in THE WHITE HOUSE, will place that honor at the top of his/her list of lifetime achievements! (This illusion of superiority also explains why the public fails to question Washington’s insistence on running the world, refusing to join Russia and China in a multi-polar, cooperative condominium…)
This fable is part of what maintains the majority of Americans in the conviction that theirs is the best country the world has ever known, which can do no wrong. When they suddenly find themselves with a leader who says ‘Bunkum, we’re as bad as anybody’, they’re like somebody who is crossing a stream by jumping from one rock to another and suddenly realizes he’s in the middle with no more rocks in sight.
The question looming over the November mid-term elections is not whether ‘Russia Will Interfere’, but whether the hundred-year late recognition that it’s okay to be a democratic socialist will propel enough people like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, a young Latina from the Bronx, into the US House of Representatives (let alone the Senate) to bring the country truly into the 21st century. Because Russia and its allies (such as China and Iran) whatever their skin color, represent in one form or another the basic concept of social democracy: cooperation, which is what meetings between heads of state are/should be/about.