Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Other Shoe

I remember when Arafat died, I thought (among other things), "good, maybe someone with some sense can finally step forward and lead the Palestinians to a peaceful resolution of their problems." Many Americans thought the same things. We saw Arafat as a terrorist and an arrogant bastard who condemned his people to the same mistakes and tragedies they had suffered from their leaders for the past 60 years. I couldn't understand why the Palestinians would follow such a man.

Well, apparently, much of the rest of the world feels very similar about our President and Americans' love affair of him. Only 3 countries out of 21 polled saw the world as safer with George Bush in office. The majority of the world believes America is a danger with Bush in office. How can G.W. stand a chance at building alliances with the rest of the world when foreigners see him as a danger to their own security? The answer is - he can't. This is what happens when you thumb your nose to the rest of the world as Bush has done. We are driving away those allies that we need the most. We have lost the sympathy of the nations who could stop the terrorists before they ever get to our borders.

You cannot convince me that our leaders have not made humongous diplomatic blunders when we go from being seen as "defending ourselves," to being seen as "the danger." Is the feelings of the rest of the world completely justified? No. We have the right and obligating to defend ourselves. But Bush cannot escape blame for a good part of the Anti-American sentiment that abounds.

Global Poll Shows Negative Reaction to Bush Win
(Link)
By Michael Holden

LONDON (Reuters) - A majority of people surveyed in a global poll think the re-election of George Bush (news - web sites) has made the world more dangerous and many view Americans negatively as well, the BBC said Wednesday.

The survey by the British broadcaster showed that only three countries -- India, the Philippines and Poland -- out of 21 polled thought the world was safer following Bush's election win in November.

Bush will be inaugurated for his second term Thursday.

On average across all countries, 58 percent of the 22,000 surveyed said they believed Bush's re-election made the world more dangerous.

"This is quite a grim picture for the U.S.," said Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at America's University of Maryland.

The survey found that 56 percent of Americans thought Bush's win was good for the world with 39 percent disagreeing.

Traditional U.S. allies in western Europe, such as Britain (64 percent), France (75 percent), and Germany (77 percent), were among the most negative about Bush's re-election.

A majority in Italy (54 percent) and Australia (61 percent), which both have troops in Iraq (news - web sites), also thought his win had made the world more dangerous.

Anti-Bush sentiment was strongest in Turkey, with 82 percent thinking his win was bad for peace compared to just 6 percent in support. A large majority in Latin American countries, including 58 percent in close neighbor Mexico, were also negative.

Analysts said the poll had far-reaching implications, suggesting a serious rise in anti-U.S. feeling in general, with 42 percent saying it had made them feel worse about Americans compared to 25 percent who made it think more of them.

IRAQ OPPOSITION

There was also overwhelming opposition to sending troops to Iraq, even among close allies such as Britain.

"Fully one in four British citizens say the Bush re-election has made them more opposed to sending troops to Iraq, resulting in a total of 63 per cent now opposed," said Doug Miller, president of GlobeScan which carried out the poll.

"Our research makes very clear that the re-election of President Bush (news - web sites) has further isolated America from the world."

The survey found that 47 percent of those questioned now see U.S. influence in the world as largely negative.

"Those saying the U.S. itself is having a clearly negative influence in the world still do not constitute a definitive world-wide majority, suggesting there may be some underlying openness to repairing relations with the U.S.," he said.

The survey was conducted between Nov. 15, 2004 and Jan. 5, 2005.

1 comment:

Boomr said...

I think the poll reflects the fact that President Bush
fundamentally misunderstands international relations --
and, more specifically, international terrorism. That his handling of foreign policy has not been viewed by the American voter as an incredibly inept display reflects the fact that the average American doesn't really understand these issues, either.

Back in the John Wayne days of the 1920s, -30s, and -40s, the threats to national security were by other states -- Germany and Japan, or the USSR and China, or some other foe upon whom war could be declared and against whom the war could be won by military acquisition of the foe's homeland. In essence, in those days, the strongest army won, and the mere threat of loosing the 101st Airborne and a couple of tank divisions on potential enemies would have those enemies shaking in their boots. The fear was based upon the
enemy's desire to maintain control of a certain parcel of land and the unwillingness to die en masse.

The problem with taking this John Wayne style of military diplomacy into the modern era is that the enemy is very rarely an actual state with actual borders, and the mere show of force -- even the "shock and awe" of the full might of the American military -- does not deter action. International terrorism is unafraid of death -- in fact, death is the preferred resolution to many problems, whether it's the terrorist's death or that of his enemies (or, in a
big fat jihad bonus, the death of both at once). International terrorism also has no homeland, no borders, no territory that needs to be controlled. Conquer one state-supporter of terrorism (i.e., Afghanistan), and the training bases just move to a different undisclosed location (i.e., Iraq).

This means that the terrorist has nothing to lose, in the way that a country has something to lose. Iraq is no longer the Iraq of old since the Bush Regime Change, but the obvious truth is that terrorism is alive and well there. The way terrorism maintains its ability to act is twofold: (1) disseminating MISinformation about the conduct of its enemies; and (2) grabbing hold of the TRUTH about its enemies and using that truth to inspire the devout masses. The first can be countered with diplomacy: international aid, education of the populations of the countries that feed terrorism, participation in international treaties and summits. The second is harder to combat, especially when the John Wayne mentality of the previous generation is still steering the country.

So, when President Bush makes a great show of force in
invading a country in a region known for birthing terrorism, he gives the terrorists a truth they can use to recruit others. They say, "See, look at how the
Great Satan is taking over our homeland and stealing our oil! Look at how it's trampling upon our beliefs!" And thus another class of terrorist recruits is indoctrinated.

President Bush seems to think that saber-rattling is still an effective form of international relations. This may be true when we're across the negotiating table with Kazakhstan, but with Al Qaeda it's a different story. Saber-rattling in the international terrorism context just fuels the same on the other side of the struggle. This modus operandi of the present administration is very dangerous, as it both fuels our enemies and weakens our allies.

The United States is definitely the big player on the block in the international arena, but it's not the only player. We, as a nation, can not afford to alienate every other country -- especially those developed countries that we spent half a century cultivating as friends. In short time, President Bush has scrapped the Marshall Plan in favor of 19th century isolationism and unilateral action.

If there's any hope for international peace and security, it has to be through the rule of international law and the agreement of the nations of the world. It doesn't have to be in the UN, but it does have to be a multi- or omni-lateral movement, not just the whim of a bellicose President. To do otherwise, as President Bush has done, is to invite more threats against us.