By David A. Love
Progressive Media Project
July 2, 2008
The results of the presidential election could go a long way toward improving America's image around the world.
Tragically, the Bush administration tarnished our reputation and squandered the global goodwill that came our way after Sept. 11.
Since then, President Bush has displayed a cavalier attitude toward the rest of the world. He has waged a senseless war against a nation that did not harm the United States, and has cost tens of thousands of innocent lives.
And in the name of keeping Americans free, Bush has run roughshod over the U.S. Constitution and international law, brazenly spying on Americans and torturing detainees.
As he subverted the rule of law, he undermined America's self-made image as a beacon of international human rights.
Consequently, even among America's closest allies in Western Europe, we receive a low favorability rating, according to a recent report by the Pew Global Attitudes Project.
For example, only 30 percent of people in Germany have favorable views of the United States, as do 34 percent in Spain and 39 percent in France. Britain is the only Western European country where a majority of respondents - 53 percent - thinks favorably of the United States.
America's favorability rating among another two of its closest allies, Japan and Mexico, has declined significantly in the past year, by 11 percentage points and 9 percentage points, respectively.
In much of the Muslim world, our reputation is near rock bottom. Less than one-quarter of people in predominantly Muslim nations such as Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt and Jordan have positive views of the United States. And in Pakistan and Turkey, large majorities view America as "more of an enemy" than "more of a friend." What is perhaps most compelling about the Pew study is that the world has its eyes - and hopes - on the U.S. presidential election.
About two-thirds of the people polled in France, Germany, South Africa and Spain believe that U.S. foreign relations will improve once Bush is out of office.
Across the board, people overseas express more confidence in Sen. Barack Obama over his rival, Sen. John McCain, regarding international affairs. For example, while 84 percent of people in France are confident in Obama, only 33 percent feel that way about McCain. In Australia, 81 percent trust Obama, while only 40 percent trust McCain.
So, why should Americans care about what the rest of the world thinks? Well, we're in a pickle now due to Bush's refusal to consider world opinion. And the next president will need better relations with other nations if we are to solve our global challenges together.
While McCain refuses to negotiate with adversaries of the United States, and gives little indication that he would veer from the catastrophic foreign policy of Bush, Obama believes in vigorous diplomacy - engaging America's allies and enemies alike. He also rejects Bush's system of secret and harsh offshore prisons and tribunals.
Obama's approach, as the Pew study suggests, resonates around the world.
Some of us may feel a hunger for change here at home. That hunger is also gnawing away at people in other countries.