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The world wonders what's happened to America
What happens to a country that is an idea, when that idea turns ugly?
Since the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the United States has been the leader of the free world economically, militarily, but also -- as communism and fascism fell by the wayside -- as an idea.
They went too far in Iraq in 2003, got too greedy before 2008, and let Syria down in 2013. But still, the US' obsession with painstakingly transparent self-analysis, allocation of blame and rooting out failure, got it back on top. However much you hate it, the idea seemed to justify its existence.
But this has been a difficult month. Well, a difficult year. Actually, scratch that too: everything since November 2016 has been discombobulating. I recall watching American expats, Europeans, Lebanese aghast in Beirut when Donald Trump won. It seemed to them like the wheels were coming off civilization. But surely, they could not forever, as the idea of the United States was designed to be tamper-proof?