|The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by Josh Nossiter
|The Wild Boor
Friday, November 24th, 2006
|The Nossiter Net is cast to snare some of the riper rascalities of the day. Comments? firstname.lastname@example.org|
|When President Clinton visited Vietnam in 2000, the first U.S. president to do so since the end of the war, cheering crowds followed him wherever he went. He shook hands with anyone in reach, gave speeches to roaring audiences, saw the sights, and left a hero. President Bush sneaked into Vietnam last week, and spent a total of fifteen minutes outside his heavily guarded hotel. His next stop was Indonesia, where he’s so hated the secret service wouldn’t let him stay the night. The State Department reports that six years ago, 75% of Indonesians had a favorable view of the United States; today, only 30% of Indonesians are so minded.* Meanwhile, in Abu Dhabi, George H.W. Bush told a business group how proud he was of his family’s accomplishments. According to the International Herald Tribune, a woman stood up and said “We do not respect your son. We do not respect what he's doing all over the world."** She was cheered by the audience.
Bush is a pariah. In countries that allow them, anti-U.S. demonstrators greet him wherever he goes. As much as we dislike him here, they despise him much more in Western Europe, Latin America, and Asia outside of the Indian sub-continent. Our own head of state is a hated man, and there’s evidence that the hatred is spreading to include his countrymen.
After the president was “re-elected” in 2004, the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) conducted a worldwide poll to gauge international reaction to another four years of Bush. In eighteen of twenty-one countries surveyed, majorities said that Bush was a negative for the security of the world.*** Worse, a plurality of respondents, 47%, said that America was a negative influence on the world, compared to 38% who thought otherwise.
That was nearly two years ago. With the ongoing carnage in Iraq, the administration’s support for Israel’s boneheaded attack on Lebanon last summer, and Iran and North Korea both going nuclear in the face of U.S. inability to do anything material to stop them, it’s doubtful that attitudes about the U.S. have improved. Like the single loud-mouthed boor in a group of otherwise benign tourists, the opprobrium Bush draws taints all Americans everywhere. The fact that we certainly didn’t elect him once, and very likely didn’t elect him twice, is justifiably over-looked by the rest of the world. In the case of an ignorant and reckless imbecile like George W., neither election should have been remotely close.
The harm Bush has done to our standing in the world is probably reversible. As the New York Times reported yesterday, even in as benighted a place as Burma, an American-equipped book and film center is a local hot spot. The English language courses are especially popular. It probably wouldn’t take much, in other words, to give the world an antidote to the poisonous Bush doctrine. Where to start?
Iraq is a good place to begin reversing the toxic tide. A new poll says that 70% of Iraqis want the U.S. out of their country. 80% regard the U.S, along with Israel, as their biggest enemy. 63% think attacks on U.S. forces are just dandy.****
The Pentagon has completed a new study of alternative strategies for dealing with Iraq that it sums up as “Go long, go big, or go home.” Based on the poll numbers, staying indefinitely or sending in more troops isn’t going to win us more friends there, or anywhere else. That leaves “go home.” As a strategy it has a nice, friendly sound. Besides, even this president must be aware that there’s no place like it.
©Joshua C. Nossiter, 2006
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