With the Treaty of Versailles of 1919 – which regulated the peace terms after World War I – President Woodrow Wilson, as the representative of America, the new rising power, introduced a new, unheard of doctrine of moral conduct in international relations, the same code of behavior that governs relations among citizens, as well as the theory that only in a world based on democracy can humanity live in peace with justice and equality. And as a result, America became the hope and example of nations.
It was this idealization that fortified America with the ‘soft power’ that enabled it to foster globalization and that led to the multiplication of its gross national product in a few decades and gave it the moral standing to criticize totalitarian regimes.
This weapon of moral advantage has contributed to a certain extent to the spread of democracy, to the promotion and implementation of the rule of law as the basis on which the development of society and the improvement of the economies of many countries were based.
It is this image of a young and vigorous country that was introduced – one that stayed away from the old ways of Europe and one that brought many to these shores.
This whole edifice of the first Republic in the world, collapsed in the eyes of the people around the globe in one day – specifically in 170 minutes at and in the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Well-known professor and author Francis Fukuyama wrote recently in the New York Times that because of these events, America’s influence in the world has diminished significantly.
Earlier periods of crisis like the Civil War and the Great Depression produced farsighted, institution-building leaders like Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The problem is that at this time – at least as what seems to be the case – this type of great leader is absent and, moreover, the man who led America to this crisis still retains strong popular support.
Fukuyama, in the same article, makes two more remarks that are particularly important.
“When the former Soviet Union collapsed,” he writes, “there were two key factors I underestimated back then – first, the difficulty of creating not just democracy, but also a modern, impartial, uncorrupt state; and second, the possibility of political decay in advanced democracies.”
These are, I repeat, two very important points that explain the discrepancy we see between the democratic model of governance and the corruption and decay we observe around the world.
America suffers mainly from decay, rooted in complacency – the notion that her Democracy is unshakable, and eternal.
The events that took place on January 6, 2021 proved that the rot was deep and that America cannot rest on its laurels if it wants to maintain the government and principles that made it the most important Republic after that of Athens two-and-a-half thousand years ago.