Kathleen Parker, writing about diplomatic fallout from the Wikileak documents, includes a poignant reaction:
Writing for the center-right Le Figaro, French journalist Renaud Girard said: “What is most fascinating is that we see no cynicism in U.S. diplomacy. They really believe in human rights in Africa and China and Russia and Asia. They really believe in democracy and human rights.”
Yes, we really do.
If Americans are guilty of anything, he said, it is being a little naive. Let’s plead guilty as charged and get on with it.
I guess the rest of the world doesn’t really believe in all that stuff about democracy and human rights like we do. So in our idealism we naively try to help the world and just get beaten around for our trouble. I know that critics of America ascribe sinister motives to our policies–they are just in Iraq for the oil, etc.–but I think our real problem has been our good intentions, which just don’t work out the way our optimistic national character expects them to.
And yet I think it’s good not to be cynical about democracy, freedom, human rights, etc. Is there a way to keep our ideals without being naive?