It bothers Americans when we're told how unpopular we are with the rest of the world. For some of us, at least, it gets our back up -- and our natural tendency is to tell the French, for example, that we'd rather not hear from them until the day when they need us to bail them out again.
But we cool off. We're big boys and girls, after all, and we don't really bruise that easily. We're also hopeful that, eventually, our ostrich-headed allies will realize there's a World War going on out there and they need to pick a side -- the choice being between the forces of civilization and the forces of anarchy. Considering the fact that the latter team is growing stronger and bolder daily, while most of our European Union friends continue to dismantle their defenses, that day may not be too long in coming.
In the meantime, let's be realistic about the world we live in. Mexican leaders apparently have an economic policy based on exporting their own citizens, while complaining about US immigration policies that are far less exclusionary than their own. The French jail perfectly nice people for politically incorrect comments, but scold us for holding terrorists at Guantanamo.
Russia, though, takes the cake. Here is a government apparently run by ex-KGB agents who have no problem blackmailing whole countries by turning the crank on their oil pipelines. They're not doing anything shady, they say. They can’t help it if their opponents are so notoriously accident-prone. Criticize these guys and you might accidentally drink a cup of tea laced with a few million dollars worth of deadly, and extremely rare, radioactive poison. Oppose the Russian leadership, and you could trip and fall off a tall building or stumble into the path of a bullet.
The hundreds of demonstrators the Kremlin has had beaten and arrested in the last few weeks alone, we are told, were not pro-democracy activists but common criminals -- like world chess champion Garry Kasparov. Demonstrating without a permit is a serious crime and, luckily for the Kremlin, it turns out that pro-government youth groups seem always to have permits for rallies at the exact times and places that anti-government protesters gather.
Another group that seems to be having trouble with permits is the media. Newspapers and television stations that aren't smart enough to know that America is the enemy and that things are great in Russia can't seem to get their paperwork in order. It’s some sort of IQ test, I guess.
President Vladimir Putin, though, shows no sign that he feels defensive about his remarkable string of luck. He knows who's really to blame for "meddling" in Russian "internal affairs." It's the United States.
He's lambasting us for yielding too much power. One example of this excessive power is the missile defense radar system we want to install in Poland and the Czech Republic -- to give the free world early warning of a missile attack by terrorists or a rogue nation like Iran. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that the Russians have been supplying Iran with both nuclear and missile technology while using their UN veto to block sanctions that would force Tehran to back down. Regardless, we're clearly at fault, he says, for putting a defense system close to Mother Russia.
So I wouldn't worry too much about the criticisms we receive. We make mistakes and at times the "carping" may even be on target, but it seems to me that we ought to look at a lot of the complaints as a badge of honor.