Let's talk about facts this election - Part IV - Soft Power

One of America's strengths was that people looked up to the US. In WWII soldiers would give up to the US on purpose, because they knew that they would be treated fairly. How do I know this - my grandfather who fought for the Italians was one of them. Imagine that power. You are so highly regarded that your enemies would rather give up to you than fight you.

But we've squandered that. In the name of fighting terror, we torture. In the name of justice, we invade a country without justification. And it's worse then that - we actually bombed a country and then fail to build it back up again. Hundreds of thousand dead for what? I was against the Iraq war, but even worse than this misguided adventure was the fact that we failed to rebuild the country after we got rid of the regime.

Why did we fail? All the talking heads would say that we didn't have enough of a military presence there, but lets face reality, the GOP just doesn't understand that the government has a role to play in building society. Instead of sending experts to rebuild Iraq, we sent cronies who were experts at chanting right-wing mantras and little else. Iraqis were angry. All of the good will that some Iraqis had for the US evaporated. Thankfully the Iraqi insurgents have figured out that Al Qaeda is worse than the US and are now fighting on our side to rid their country of religious zealots. Yes, fanatics can ruin your neighborhood.

In the midst of all this, the world's collective jaw dropped. The US was first irrational and then appeared incapable of doing anything right. I'm glad that these guys weren't the ones to face the post WWII world, they would have wrecked it with their free-market government-is-good-for-nothing ideology. So America's ability to convince its allies that it held the moral high ground evaporated. People around the world were sickened and disgusted with the Bush administrations policies and as a consequence world opinion of the US dropped.

Now why is this important? Well as a non-American I'm telling Americans that the world wants, and needs an enlightened and strong America. Why do you think that so many flocked to hear Barack Obama's speech in Berlin? Because he's a celebrity? Germans, Europeans and most of the world wants a America that spreads fairness, peace, equal opportunity and democracy. Obama, the candidate opposing McCain and the GOP, opposed the war and wants to reestablish US's status in the world as a leader for justice and opportunity. That's why.

So the title of this post has the word facts, and so here are some to backup what I'm saying.

First this graph of world opinion from the BBC:


Here's a snapshot of how one country (this case Portugal - just for you evil gomez) views the US (source):

A majority of Portuguese (55%) sees the US influence in the world as mainly negative, while just 29 percent believes it is mainly positive. Disapproval of US foreign policy is widespread in Portugal, with very large majorities disapproving of US treatment of detainees at Guantanamo (84%), the handling of the Iraq war (83%), global warming (79%), and the Israel-Hezbollah conflict (72%). The Portuguese also tend to view US handling of rising nuclear tensions negatively, with 57 percent disapproving of the situation with Iran and 51 percent disapproving of the situation with North Korea. More than three in four (77%) in Portugal see the US military presence in the Middle East as instigating more conflict than it prevents, and just 15 percent see the US as a stabilizing force in the region.

If you want some really disturbing numbers, see this report by Gallup.

Note that these numbers are not the product of "jealously" or any of the crap that right-wing pundits spout. The Portuguese, just like many others, expect more from the US. And that's why Barack Obama, the candidate opposing McCain and the GOP, is so popular throughout Europe. So what are the numbers? This is from the Pew Research Center:


Even Aussies prefer Obama by a wide margin (and there is no way that Aussies are jealous of the US - trust me).

So will the act of electing Obama increase America's stance in the world? Probably. Will it increase America's soft power? Very likely.

More like this

The point of torturing prisoners and shooting the wounded is to (1) encourage the enemy to fight to the death, (2) make recruiting more successful for the enemy, and (3) to encourage the enemy population to volunteer to fight and give other support.

The fix, however, is easy. On January 20, when Obama and Biden are sworn in, immediately arrest the entire Bush Administration (legal, since habeas corpus has been suspended) and subject them to extraordinary rendition, delivering them to the Iraqi people to be tried by the government the Bushies set up.

Turnabout is fair play. Retribution ought to be a real barrel of laughs.

By Bill the Cat (not verified) on 29 Aug 2008 #permalink

Mind your own beeswax or get back to Canuckistan!..grumblegrumble...we oughtta build a WALL along our northern border in order to...grumblegrumblegrumble....

By George Smiley (not verified) on 29 Aug 2008 #permalink

Mind your own beeswax or get back to Canuckistan!..

Very soon I'll have to make that decision.