Saturday, September 09, 2006

Americans Favor Better International Relations

Unilateralism means you don't have to talk to anyone—you can ignore other nations; it means you don't have to engage the world because you already know the answers (or think you do). It's really not much different than isolationism, except that if you're a powerful nation, you can just go ahead and do what you want in other places around the world. That's a brief description of Bush's foreign policy and it's a failure. Even the nations who have sent troops to Iraq have never questioned that the war is anything but an exclusive American show. Even Tony Blair is largely ignored. The consequence is that the United States is less powerful today than it was five years ago because of Bush's strained relationships around the world.

These days, Americans are noticing Bush's failed stewardship in foreign policy. Mark Silva of the Chicago Tribune has an article on a recent survey:
In this era of tough talk on national security, a new survey suggests that candidates campaigning with a promise of promoting better international cooperation among the United States and other nations could draw great attention from voters.


The statement that proved most convincing in this survey:

“In an increasingly interconnected world, we need other nations and they need us to build a better future. No single country can solve the world’s problems alone. America must inspire other states and institutions to join in a common effort. We need to work with other countries to share information about and root out terrorism, to stop epidemics before they come to our shores, to monitor and halt the spread of catastrophic weapons and to work with other nations to impose ceasefires on deadly violence.’’

The survey found that 82 percent of voters overall found this statement convincing, and that 49 percent found it very convincing. Among men and women alike, this statement registered strongly: 81 percent of the male voters surveyed calling it convincing and 83 percent of the female voters surveyed calling it convincing.

In the months after 9/11, the world was willing to listen to what Bush had to say, but things have changed. Five years later, Bush is not exactly inspiring the world. And his fearmongering is considered an embarrassment. He does not have the credibility he had five years ago. He's not trusted and when he talks about democracy, he's generally not taken seriously. The handling of Abu Ghraib, the possibility of war with Iran and the fiasco that followed Katrina are what other nations see, not Bush playing his leadership games by leaning on his podium talking about 'staying the course' along with the other White House flummery shoveled into his speeches: that may impress the Republican base, but not anyone else.

The reality is that Bush is personally ignored at times by other world leaders. Increasingly, when Bush says something, they assume he is just playing domestic politics. More and more, other nations are creating their own agreements without consulting the US. In the end, this only weakens our position in the world.


Blogger Blue Gal said...

But why do Americans hate America?

7:12 AM  
Blogger Craig said...

Welcome Blue Gal. Thanks for the ironic question though it may confuse a reader or two. I can only suggest they check out your site! Or look closely at the necklace you're wearing. ;)

There is an honest way to flip the question, by the way, particularly when Democrats or liberals are invoked instead of Americans. If I live on an average American street and I want to have better relations with my neighbors, does that mean I love my family less?

6:06 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Craig asked:

"If I live on an average American street and I want to have better relations with my neighbors, does that mean I love my family less?"

Not only that, it means you're a weak-willed doormat and an elitist who wouldn't be caught dead guzzling warm beer from a plastic cup at a NASCAR race.

Or so some would have it.

9:29 PM  

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