Like some of you, I’ve been on the receiving end of an e-mail bombardment from friends who have expressed their shock and dismay over the recent shutdown of the U.S. federal government and the entire political and legislative impasse between the White House and congressional Republicans.

I’ve been told by my British, French, and Chinese correspondents that the current mess in Washington is a clear sign that America is in the process of decline and may be on the eve of destruction, that we need to put our political and economic house in order before it is too late, and that if we won’t do so ASAP we could end up losing our “moral authority” in the eyes of the world and our “global leadership position,” whatever that means.

Hey, the Brits, the French, and the Germans might refuse to allow us to protect their security, including their access to the oil resources of the Persian Gulf on which they (and not we) are dependent, and may even be forced to increase their spending on defense and reduce their vacation time.  Quelle horreur!

And the Chinese are actually threatening to withdraw their investments in the United States (while denying us access to some of their protected markets), sell their U.S. securities, and buy—well, eurozone bonds instead.  Go ahead.  Let’s see how that works for you.

Similarly, there has been a lot of dismay among our “allies” in the Middle East, led by Saudi Arabia and Turkey, over our refusal to deploy troops and do a “regime change” in Syria and get drawn, perhaps, into another Middle Eastern quagmire.  The Saudis and the Israelis also want us to bomb Iran.  Or else.

The Saudis have already “punished” us by renouncing their seat on the U.N. Security Council to which they had just been elected for the first time by the General Assembly.  Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying that the decision to boycott the Security Council was meant as a “message for the U.S.”

Yes, indeed, I can hear America crying: We know that you are so busy beheading this or that adulterer, but please, oh, please, dear Arabian sheiks, don’t do this to us, and take your seat at the United Nations.  Please.

I have reservations about the tactics employed by the Republicans on Capitol Hill to have ObamaCare defunded.  In fact, I am not entirely clear what the strategy of the GOP is these days, not to mention the personal quality of those who represent the party in Congress.

But the notion that the battles over fiscal policy that have been taking place in Washington in recent years are a reflection of some sort of a terminal political disease that Americans are suffering from is just pure nonsense.  If anything, the fact that the country has not experienced a major social upheaval in the same period may be a sign of political maturity.

The United States has been engaged for close to two decades in two costly and unwinnable wars, has been trying to recover from a devastating economic crisis, and has also been experiencing dramatic changes in its demographic makeup.  In the past, this or a similar set of developments, coupled with a rising national debt, a high rate of unemployment, and a financially squeezed middle class, would have produced a political crisis and perhaps a revolution.

Indeed, my dear correspondents, in Europe pressures resulting from the fiscal and monetary crises and continuing illegal immigration from the Middle East have already produced political instability and the growing power of aggressive antigovernment movements that make our Tea Party look like a branch of the Rotary Club.

When you consider the political and economic context in which all of this was taking place, the bickering between the White House and Congress does not look so bad compared with what likely would have happened in other countries under similar conditions.

After all, the financial meltdown and the Great Recession have had devastating effects on the members of the American middle class.  Hundreds of thousands of households have lost their life savings and have seen the value of homes plunge, not to mention those who had to declare bankruptcy and who lost their houses, and those who are still struggling to find a job and support their families with salaries that have remained stagnant for two decades or more.

And all of this economic destruction has been taking place against the backdrop of the military fiascos, the rise of China and other emerging markets that are reducing the number of U.S. manufacturing jobs, and the arrival of millions of new immigrants, including 11 million illegals from Mexico and Central America, who are transforming the demographic makeup of the country in a very dramatic way.  So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that these developments have sent shock waves through the entire American political system.

In the European parliamentary system this kind of polarization could have brought about major political instability, a series of elections, and the collapse of one coalition government after another.  Instead, Americans got the fiscal, political, and legislative battles of the last five years, during which the Republicans have been challenging President Barack Obama and his administration’s ability to lead the nation.

So my message to the world?  Chill out, guys.