For the last 70 years, the United States has held itself as the epitome of national morality and human rights, and has used its military might to prescribe to the international community what each country should aspire to. However, it suddenly finds itself in a credibility crisis–all because of a town most Americans, let alone the world had never heard of until August 9, 2014.
The facade of America as a nation of liberty and equality has been broken, in the most humiliating way, at a time when the American government endeavors the world to follow its lead on international predicaments such as Israel-Palestine, tensions with Russia over eastern Europe, and more recently the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Thanks to a global financial crisis and a world of nations that has turned inward, the US struggles to get help from its allies. The rise of China has the American government and citizenry fearing our time as the world’s sole superpower is ending. So a situation like Ferguson, which displays the true nature of American hypocrisy couldn’t have happened at a more inopportune time.
Ferguson has revealed the sharp racial divide that still haunts American society to the world, prompting widespread anger at the continuous cycle of institutional racism at home and damaging American credibility abroad. Footage of police beating, arresting and attacking mostly peaceful protesters with tear gas broadcast all over the world, leading national governments, citizenries and the United Nations alike to question how the US can criticize other countries when clearly, we have our own internal problems.
Other groups, notably Palestinians, who experience the same injustices as African-Americans, draw parallels and reach out in solidarity from one oppressed group to another, even offering tips to Ferguson protesters fleeing tear gas on Twitter.
News media in countries with friendly bilateral ties to the US, including Canada, Britain, France and Germany highlight and even criticize the US for its seemingly never ending problem with race. Not surprisingly, world leaders frustrated with the US react with schadenfreude, for example Russia, China, Iran and others. Like the US, these countries have internal problems but they’re not wrong for criticizing the US for brutalizing its own citizens while preaching to the world about liberty, justice and equality.
How exactly this will affect American Foreign Policy going forward remains to be seen. But one thing is clear, the days of the US holding the moral high ground are in serious jeopardy if not completely over. 2014 has been a year of resistance to governmental power, from Ukraine, to Hong Kong, to Thailand, to Gaza and now to the United States. A Human Right Watch researcher remarks “our world is melding into a single military regime.”