WASHINGTON - The world got a close-up look at US democracy during Washington's debt default showdown, and was traumatized by what it saw.
Foreign commentators branded America "befuddled," and mocked its "dysfunctional" political system while French newspaper Le Monde bemoaned a "piteous spectacle" over a just avoided US debt default.
The bad news for America's worried friends is that new stalemates over budgets and borrowing are looming early next year.
Foreign angst over the spectacle - which saw the far right Republican Tea Party faction try to hold President Barack Obama to ransom - is understandable. The globalised economy has world powers chained to America's fate: a US debt default could have caused mayhem across the planet.
Obama warned the showdown diminished US standing and "encouraged our enemies, it's emboldened our competitors and depressed our friends."
The two week impasse was sparked when House Republicans tried to make a hike in US borrowing authority conditional on Obama gutting his signature health care law.
Foreigners struggled to understand how an insurgent minority was able to hold US democracy hostage.
Outsiders have often grumbled that a political system of checks and balances designed 230 years ago is too lumbering for an age where billions of dollars can flee a nation in a second and nimble developing nations challenge US primacy.