America Needs to Look in the Mirror
There is an excellent article by Andrew Moravcsik in Newsweek contrasting the Bushite view of America with how others see us. The writer says the difference is nowhere more apparent than in Bush's inaugural speech, with its over-hyped use of the words freedom and liberty.
For many in the world, the president's rhetoric confirmed their worst fears of an imperial America relentlessly pursuing its narrow national interests. But the greater danger may be a delusional America—one that believes, despite all evidence to the contrary, that the American Dream lives on, that America remains a model for the world, one whose mission is to spread the word.
The gulf between how Americans view themselves and how the world views them was summed up in a poll last week by the BBC. Fully 71 percent of Americans see the United States as a source of good in the world. More than half view Bush's election as positive for global security. Other studies report that 70 percent have faith in their domestic institutions and nearly 80 percent believe "American ideas and customs" should spread globally.
Foreigners take an entirely different view: 58 percent in the BBC poll see Bush's re-election as a threat to world peace. Among America's traditional allies, the figure is strikingly higher: 77 percent in Germany, 64 percent in Britain and 82 percent in Turkey. Among the 1.3 billion members of the Islamic world, public support for the United States is measured in single digits. Only Poland, the Philippines and India viewed Bush's second Inaugural positively.
The worst part is that the new anti-Amercian feelings may outlast Bush:
Tellingly, the anti-Bushism of the president's first term is giving way to a more general anti-Americanism.....Says Doug Miller of GlobeScan, which conducted the BBC report: "President Bush has further isolated America from the world. Unless the administration changes its approach, it will continue to erode America's good name, and hence its ability to effectively influence world affairs."
So now we not only have a President who is an unwise choice for America, we have one who is doing permanent damage to America's image in the eyes of the rest of the world.
Update: Similar thoughts are expressed in this Financial Times article by Michael Lind today:
Nor is American democracy a shining example to mankind. The present one-party rule in the US has been produced in part by the artificial redrawing of political districts to favour Republicans, reinforcing the domination of money in American politics. America's judges -- many of whom will be appointed by Mr Bush -- increasingly behave as partisan political activists in black robes. America's antiquated winner-take-all electoral system has been abandoned by most other democracies for more inclusive versions of proportional representation."
[hat tip Fred]
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