As Shutdown Continues, The World Watches With Mounting Alarm


As the government shutdown stretches to a fourth day, international concern is mounting. The shutdown has not yet impacted world markets, but many commentators around the world are starting to wonder if Congress will apply the same recklessness to the upcoming debt ceiling fight and take down the global economy with it.

Republicans may be working hard to turn domestic public opinion to their side, but foreign media places the blame squarely on GOP extremists. Below is a sample of how the world is struggling to make sense of the ongoing shutdown:

“Irresponsible politics” State-run Xinhua warned China to be “on guard against spillover of irresponsible U.S. politics.” A column on Wednesday tied the “bizarre but anticipated development” of the shutdown to the “risky game played by Democrats and Republicans in the past two years,” citing the debt ceiling fight of 2011 and the gridlock over the “fiscal cliff” in January.


“Paralysis” A Le Monde article on Friday wondered if American democracy even works, calling out the Tea Party for blackmail and urging the government to hold firm. “In a democracy, people abolish laws by winning the election, not with the threat of a government shutdown or even a default. It is impossible to govern seriously undergoing this type of blackmail,” writes Martin Wolf.

“A sorry pass” Obama cancelled a planned trip to the Philippines this week due to the shutdown, but the nation’s commentators seem less offended than simply perplexed. The Philippine Daily Inquirer ran an editorial on Friday calling the shutdown “baffling.” “How did the world’s lone superpower come to such a sorry pass?” the editorial asks. It answers its own question by bluntly blaming Republicans: “We will not pretend that both the Democrats and the Republicans are equally at fault…Let’s just say it: Insurgent Republicans have a problem with their country’s first black president.”

“Economic Armageddon” In a Telegraph column entitled, “The American right have got it all wrong,” British commentator Jeremy Warner puzzled over what ails the Republican Party. Warner called the U.S.’s exorbitant healthcare costs bizarre, observing, “Whatever the answer, the reality is that the American Right has already largely lost the argument [over health care reform]. Yet it cannot bring itself to run up the white flag. Worse, it stands accused of irresponsible petulance by threatening to press the button marked “economic Armageddon” if it doesn’t get concessions.”

“Suicidal madness” Spain’s El Pais seems astounded that Republicans are still not responding to pressure, calling the shutdown “suicidal madness.” “Deaf to the warnings about the looming economic catastrophe and indifferent to the polls that blame for this crisis, the GOP insists it will not let Congress give the government a dollar more if Barack Obama does not back down on health care reform,” Antonio Cana writes. Even with the Treasury Department’s warning that the dollar could collapse and interest rates could skyrocket if the shutdown fight rolls into the debt ceiling fight, Cana reports, “None of this has created a huge impact among Republicans, whose calculation are political, not economic.”