Faced with Washington’s march toward a default, the world has reacted mostly with disbelief that the reigning superpower could fall into such dysfunction, worry over global suffering to come and frustration that American lawmakers could let the problem reach this point.
A common question crossing continents remains quite simple: The Americans aren’t really that unreasonable and self-destructive, are they?
“It just goes to show that it’s not only Greece that has irresponsible and shortsighted politicians,” said Ioanna Kalavryti, 34, a teacher in Athens. “We’ve been held hostage by our reckless politicians, and the interests they serve, for more than three years now. I guess our American friends are getting a taste of the same medicine.”
For countries that have had their own experiences with financial crises — often followed by American dictates about the need to be more responsible — the brinkmanship in the United States has produced an especially caustic mix of bewilderment, offense and more than a little eagerness to scold.
Many people in countries like Greece, Argentina, Mexico and Russia still have searing memories of defaults and their lasting effects, including lost power. Especially galling for those who endured crises of their own is the fact that the United States remains sheltered: a default could well hurt weaker countries more than the United States, which has the advantage of the dollar’s being used as a global currency.
I suppose you could say it’s just another example of American exceptionalism.