I guess I was not alone in wondering what caused the Chairman of the Joint Sitting in Washington to be so overcome with emotion that tears were cascading down his cheeks as Julia Gillard wound up her speech to the joint sitting of Congress. The tears seemed to follow her comments that recognised the American contribution to space exploration, steadfast opposition to the USSR in the cold war and so on and her vision of the US as an ongoing force for global stability.
But even that, I thought, as much as we like to hear good things about ourselves, was not enough to cause such a flood of emotion, then I think I got it.
US motivation that took it to Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan and numerous smaller altercations is so mixed, that her friends and even her own people became confused then frustrated and eventually divided over those campaigns. Abroad, interventionist policies will always draw criticism and there is no nation that has recently been more interventionist than the US.
OK, we know all that. But I propose the idea that Americans, above all else, feel unloved.
Here we have an emotionally expressive people who are suffering vilification around the world, blamed for poverty in the third world, international arrogance, heavy handed interventions (shock and awe), Palestinian suppression by Israel, etc, some perhaps deserved, some clearly not.
Also, sacrifice has touched most American families. Grieving mothers and fathers, wives and husbands desperately need to believe their loved ones died fighting for the good of others, others that seem so ungrateful.
But at home, they see themselves as Julia Gillard described them; moral, brave, free, compassionate and above all, relevant. To my knowledge, no foreign leader has ever before hit that nerve so accurately and the reaction was tears of relief that somebody from outside, anybody, unconditionally declared the American people to be the good guys.
Pic courtesy Google.