Many believe that the beauty of the US political system is its ability to self-correct. Things that go awry will ultimately be put right, these people say.
But looking back over the past decade, it's clear that if there ever was such a mechanism, it is no longer working and that there remains a dearth of needed self- criticism.
This was brought into sharp focus when protests against the United States erupted in Egypt and Libya over a week ago, leading to the death of the US ambassador to Tripoli, Christopher Stevens. Anti-US demonstrations and riots have since spread throughout the Muslim world , ostensibly triggered by the anti- Islam movie The Innocence of Muslims.
In the US, blame has been cast on a small group of Islamic extremists in the Middle East and certain governments that Washington says haven't reacted forcefully to the situation.
US officials, along with pundits and journalists, keep repeating the mantra that the majority of people in the Middle East and the Islamic world welcome Americans. US media outlets have frequently cited Stevens' words that Americans, French and British "are enjoying unusual popularity".