neljapäev, märts 25, 2004

Foreign Leaders

This may be the best Max Boot column I've ever read. Usually his stuff veers into neocon propaganda, but he makes several very important points here:

1. Bush's insistence that Kerry name his foreign leaders is fundamentally dishonest and unfair because there is no way Kerry can actually make those leaders' views public.
2. Kerry's comments raise a very important point about the fact that the US isn't very well liked abroad and that is a real problem that Bush wants to ignore.
3. The vote in Spain wasn't about appeasement. It was, however, partially a rejection of Bush.
4. European distaste for Bush could have very real implications for the war on terror if the public continues to elect leaders who oppose Bush.
5. Not all animosity toward the US is Bush's fault. Some of it has been constant for a long time, but Bush's arrogance and dismissal of European opinions don't help.
6. A Kerry victory wouldn't automatically fix things.

This issue is actually one of the major reasons I oppose Bush. I see serious consequences in his antagonitic attitude toward countries that have historically been our allies. And whether he leaves office in 2004 or 2008, the next president will have to spend years fixing our relationship with the rest of the world. The strong opposition to Bush in Europe is already weakening the war on terror by driving leaders to pull support away from us. This trend would only get worse with four more years. It also gives the French a clear example of why the EU needs to rise up as a competitor of the US. Because the Americans can elect a dimwitted jackass who will have the power to walk all over the international community.

The US is in a situation right now where it needs all the support it can get. There are terrorists hiding out all over the world and we need the help of local law enforcement to find them. Some would say we lost bin Laden because the Afghan fighters we sent in to Tora Bora couldn't be trusted. There are probably a lot of officers and soldiers in Pakistan who don't care much about our goals. This makes it more difficult to find terrorists. What happens when the French police or German intelligence or the Spanish prime minister decide they don't need to be that aggressive in helping us fight? Well, the Spanish pull their troops out of Iraq and we've got a big problem. If we're going to keep running around fighting wars with coalitions of the willing, we need to make sure there are some countries left that are still willing.

Kerry won't be able to fix all of this, nor should he. We can't subordinate our own needs just to get a thumbs up from Estonia. But he'll try and that's something Bush hasn't done. When Kerry goes to the UN for support, people will believe that he actually wants it. And showing respect to allies goes a long way. The contempt Bush shows for everyone who disagrees with him leaves little incentive to negotiate with him and find common ground. Instead, we wind up renaming french fries. That's just the kind of maturity we need in government at this moment in history. A president who acts like a 12-year-old who didn't get invited to a birthday party.


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