Distrust Of U.S. Grows: How Low Can We Go? genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Doubting Thomas

To say that the foreign policy of the Bush administration defies logic is to presume that it had its origin in a rational, reasonable, and logical dialogue...a premise that may not be sustainable. Looking at the current status of our foreign policy efforts and the impression of its effectiveness held by other nations, one might well conclude that regardless of whatever the initial due diligence, it is time for a wholesale reevaluation.

In the latest Pew Research Center survey, distrust of the United States continues to grow...primarily as a result of a foreign policy that is viewed to be arrogant and arbitrary.

In one measure of Bush's unpopularity, the poll showed he is less trusted on foreign policy than Russian President Vladimir Putin by allies Britain, Germany and Canada, even as faith in Putin has plummeted. About half in the U.S. say they have little or no trust in either leader's conduct of foreign affairs.

Bush's sagging numbers partly reflect widespread opposition to the U.S. war in Iraq. Of the countries surveyed - which included the U.S. - more people favored the removal of American forces from Iraq in all but Israel, Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya.

"Even though there is a mixed view of the United States around the world, there is increasing disapproval of the principal cornerstones of our foreign policy," said Pew President Andrew Kohut.

Yet wide-ranging majorities think the U.S. does not consider their interests when formulating foreign policy; worry that U.S. customs are hurting their countries; and think the U.S. contributes to the gap between rich and poor nations.

As the U.S. has waged its war on terrorism over the past five years, its overall image has worsened. It has dropped from 75 percent favorable in Britain in 2002 to 51 percent now; from 60 percent to 30 percent in Germany; and from 64 percent to 56 percent in Mexico.

The report also found:

-While views of American people have gotten worse in many countries, they are generally better liked than the U.S. itself.

From the Pew Research Center:

Global Image

The most glaring piece of data is the fact that since 2002, twenty-six countries have a less favorable view of the United States. The key fact to recall is that following September 11, 2001, the United States was seen as an aggrieved nation with wide support and sympathy for the losses sustained in the terrorist attacks. In less than six years, the image of the U.S. has undergone a wholesale reversal. The nation with the moral high ground has followed a foreign policy agenda that has done little more than to tarnish its image.

While the data doesn't directly speak to the reasons, I would suggest that a large number of respondents simply don't view our efforts to have been effective in reducing the threat of terrorism and they likely view our invasion of Iraq coupled with our inability to bring security and stability to the nation as an accelerant for extremist ideology and animosity.

Instead of maintaining our image as a force for good and an honest broker in the international arena, our actions have planted the seeds of doubt that we can be impartial. No doubt there are concerns that we have taken advantage of our status as the singular superpower...becoming a bully that is inclined to actions that focus on augmenting our authority and demanding that other less formidable nations comply.

The fact that the Bush administration chose to ignore the Palestinian leadership rather than continuing to seek a lasting resolution simply heightened concerns that the United States was no longer focused on acting equitably and with the best interest of all the parties in any given conflict around the world. While those perceptions may not be fully accurate, the rhetoric used by the Bush administration has failed to assuage the concerns; serving to add fuel to an already smoldering suspicion.

Despite the generally negative data, Americans can be encouraged that those surveyed were able to distinguish the actions of the U.S. government apart from their impressions of our citizenry...a sign that with new leadership our image should be able to rebound as quickly as it deteriorated. I know I'm not alone in hoping that will soon be the case.

Image courtesy of anti-corporation.blogspot.com

Daniel DiRito | June 27, 2007 | 12:34 PM
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