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Richard Engel: Chinese Authoritarianism 'Appeals More in Developing World' Than American Democracy

Noel Sheppard's picture

NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel made some statements about America's role in the world on Sunday's Meet the Press that are guaranteed to raise eyebrows on both sides of the aisle.

"It’s greatly diminished. I think the Chinese model is one that appeals more and more in the developing world" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

DAVID GREGORY, HOST: Well, we’ll talk more about that in few minutes in terms of U.S. and the world, but just as somebody who lives abroad, and I talk about, you know, as-- as The Economist did, America’s ability to have influence in the rest of the world, how-- how do you see the challenges he faces?

RICHARD ENGEL (Chief Foreign Correspondent, NBC News): Well, it’s greatly diminished. I think the Chinese model is one that appeals more and more in the developing world. People see that an authoritarian state can hold onto power, can hold on to stability and can drive the economy forward. When you look at-- when you talk to people in-- in-- in Africa and across the Middle East, they’re not satisfied with the way things are going. Sure this idea of democracy was injected into the region, but it has brought mostly chaos. So, I think the U.S. role, the U.S. example, is not the one that is on the-- on the mind of the youth internationally. People are looking more to-- to different kinds of models.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: Well, the Soviet model seemed pretty attractive-- to some of the same regions in the 1950s. So I-- I-- I would be skeptical that an authoritarian model is going to….

(Cross talk)

GREGORY: And the Chinese model has its issues.

MR. ENGEL: Certainly has its issues.

MR. SCARBOROUGH: And it's slowing down.

MR. ENGEL: But you don’t hear people talk about the United States the way they used to. You don’t hear them talk about the U.S. in this idea that, sure, people would like to come here and set up their-- you know, get-- you know, get visas and green cards. But the U.S. just doesn’t seem to have that kind of clout.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN (Presidential Historian/Author, Team of Rivals): We still have the most successful economy in the whole world, though, right?

MR. ENGEL: Maybe it’s a perception…

DAVID AXELROD (Senior Adviser, Obama 2012 Re-Election Campaign): If we go by our treasuries, people…

GREGORY: Well, let-- let me inject with this, Tom. One of the-- one of the issues…

MR. ENGEL: People aren’t that impressed anymore.


"People aren't that impressed anymore."

This from NBC's chief foreign correspondent.

Shocking when such a prominent reporter has such a dour view of his own country's role in shaping global politics.

On the other hand, despite the pushback he got from folks on the set clearly shocked by his comments, isn't this view a growing one on the left and in the media?

Last year's election was a battle between conflicting political viewpoints. Irrespective of Republican successes in the House, Obama's re-election surely was a component of America including the press pushing for a stronger centralized government.

If a growing number of people on our shores see government as the answer to their problems, mightn't that be the case overseas?

Of course, in some areas around the world, the problem is a tyrannical government having too much control over people's lives.

As such, why would people in those countries consider more government control as being the solution?

Correspondingly, if chronic unemployment continues to be a problem here despite government efforts to tax and spend our way out of it, will the public at some point consider less "authoritarian" solutions?

Stay tuned.