There are many respects in which America, if it can bring itself to act with the magnanimity and the empathy appropriate to its size and power, can be an intelligent example to the world. We have the opportunity to set an example of generous understanding in our relations with China, of practical cooperation for peace in our relations with Russia, of reliable and respectful partnership in our relations with Western Europe, of material helpfulness without moral presumption in our relations with the developing nations, of abstention from the temptations of hegemony in our relations with Latin America, and of the all-around advantages of minding one’s own business in our relations with everybody.
Most of all, we have the opportunity to serve as an example of democracy to the world by the way in which we run our own society; America, in the words of John Quincy Adams, should be ‘the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all’ but ‘the champion and vindicator only of her own.’
— U.S. Senator James W. Fulbright (1905-1995) The Arrogance of Power, 1966.
Despite having met and befriended some fine Americans over the years, my long-held opinion of the U.S. in particular and the American people in general — an opinion confirmed after I read Senator Fulbright’s book in the late 60s — has not only remained doggedly unchanged, but has, in fact, become more entrenched and pessimistic. Such entrenched pessimism stems from the inescapable truth that…