Cover the of The Economist, thought it was a great cover
It is once again the peoples chance to vote down here in the U.S. of A. At time the everyone gets a say in how the country will spend the next four years. And it looks to be shaping up like another great election … well, at least entertaining from the side lines. The problem is these elections effect everyone … globally … just ask those folks in Iraq. Thus this is something the global community is watching with a very close eye.
What frustrates me the most is that if the world actually “had” a say I don’t feel it would be very favourable for the current president. Now what United States citizens should be asking themselves is why? With the world in such strong and united support of the states after September 9, 2001 … how was it that public opinion dropped so fast. What it comes down to is respect. Respect for citizens of the world. Respect for the cultures of the world. Respect for differing opinions.
Yes, the President is concerned with internal affairs such as the taxes, education, and jobs. But being what they like to call “the leader of the free world” means that you must take the “free world” into account every time you act on the international scene. It means that organizations such at the U.N. and the World Court need to be treated with respect. They are the voice of that “free world” and if you want to be a leader in it then you have to listen to what they are saying. That does not mean that you have to agree and it sometimes means acting without their support. However, you better respect their opinions and have very good reasons for acting against their wishes.
As for the internal affairs of the country … that I feel a little less able to speak on. Yes, I live here. Yes, I pay taxes. Yes, their decisions effect me and my friends. However, I am not a citizen and if I don’t like it … I can move.
So President Bush … Senator Kerry, good luck to both heading into the polls. The next fews hours and days should prove to be interesting.
Nice post. Echoes my sentiments pretty closely. If I were able to vote, I’d want a president who would could react, and not just in a dogmatic way, AND do so in a respectful fashion.
Results from GlobalVote2004.org
My first question is why would everyone rally (or not) around the president on September 9? I can’t remember what happened that fateful Sunday.
Your diatribe regarding “leader of the free world” is very interesting. I wonder how much the rest of the world really respects him/the US, especially considering past and current foreign policy. The fact that the US was attacked, at home or abroad, about every 2 years (embassy, USS Cole, WTC the first time…), leads me to believe world opinion was not previously high of the US and their policing of the world. How much should our new leader respect and listen to those others in the “free world” who have no interest or concern about what said leader opines? In any leadership situation I would think the elected/appointed person has a primary responsibility to those directly underneath him (in this case Americans) and their best interest. The only “very good reasons” (to use your words) he needs is that he is acting in the best interest of the USA.
Now, that is not to say that I AGREE with the aformentioned leader and his actions. But I don’t think it would serve the Americans well to become a country of battered wives. Continuously being beaten/attacked, and hoping by doing nothing some significant result will come. I think the best answer eludes many (if not all) of us.
The popular opinion of the US was much higher globally following the 9/11 than it had been in a while. Though even before that, while people were not always fond on the US, they were more the butt of jokes than actual resentment. However, in the last 2 years following 9/11 the global opinion of the US has degraded substantially … and I believe this is due to a policy that seems to disrespect other opinions. The whole “if your not with us … your against us” — at that moment he was playing with a lot more than just the interests of US citizens.
That is where the problems lie. Internal affairs are just that … internal, a reason I did not get into them. And, yes, he has the responsibility to do the best he can for them … even when playing on the international field. However, if the US want to be part of the international community they have to be part of that community. If you disregard the opinions and interests of others in that community you are failing the entire community. And if you are expecting to be the “leader” of that community … you HAVE to take their interests into account. That is the role of a leader. And it is true, they may not always like the path … but you can not shun then, you can not disgrace them …
In the end, the US ignored the opinions of other members of a security council … and essentially went it alone into Iraq. The whole point of that council is to ensure that each nation acts within the ideals of the entire community. Ignoring those opinions discredits the entire system and sets a unsettling precedent for other nations. I don’t want to discredit Britain or the other nations that joined the “coalition”, but the US was going to act with or without allies.
It is this slap in the face that you want to avoid. And if you do have to break from the mold, as often “leaders” do, you have to have win everyones favor or at least back up your reasoning with evidence … and then admit failure if you don’t succeed. And remember, if you are acting on the world scene … then you are dealing with the world, not just the US. Invading a country is risky business … you affect more than just your citizens at home, but all those in the region, racial and religious affiliates, trading partners … and of course those who live there.
The world does not react well when nations “push” their ideals on other nations with force.
I don’t remember seeing anything that showed the world opinion of the US after 9/11 was any more favorable, but I bet much of the rest of the world was sympathetic to some degree. I don’t think being resented or the butt of jokes has been, or will be, the primary concern of any leader. But I can understand how being the repeated source of violence so unilateral and hateful, the likes of which had not been seen since Hitler targeted the Jewish (except for what goes on in the Middle East on a daily basis to one another), would be cause for extreme measures.
No matter what, I still don’t think that the most recent, or any, election on US soil is primarily for the title of “leader of the free world”. The blatant disregard for the opinions and best interests of the rest of the world aside, no political or corporate leader should ever have to answer to his neighbor/competition first. Although that would be a very funny adjunct to capitalism as we know it. Therefore, our past/current leader does not “HAVE” to do anything in that regard.
You talk about “having to win everyone’s favor”, but that is contradictory to “breaking from the mold”. The very reason we have leaders is to assume such responsibility without having to rely on everyone else. Whether or not a leader looks back and regrets a bad decision may depend on not only what the decision was based upon at the time, but what is known afterwards. I can’t seem to get a pulse of whether or not world/local media is totally against the move into Iraq. I hear and read new reports every day about how some things have changed for the better. Uday’s rule of the athletic program for example. You’re right in saying that pushing ideals on others is not always warranted, and in fact I don’t always believe that just because our ways seem best to us (democracy for example) that we should impose them on others. But if you’re implying that a leader should wait for the consensus (world) opinion, then you are suggesting that democracy IS the only way. What then of those nations who have dictators and autocracies? Do you think we should allow that to occur, when it flies in the face of your argument that we should have public opinion rule?
There is still no perfect answer, nor do I ever hope to have to be the one to make the decision. My hat goes off to anyone who even suggests they would throw theirs into the race for such a position. Back to the work I could have been doing for the past 5 minutes…
First off, clarification. I agree the leader of a nation should be first concerned about their citizens. All actions should be taken in the best interest of their citizens. Just some actions need to be ‘controlled’ due to the opinions and interests of your allies, neighbours, … and enemies. Why? Because that IS in the best interest of your citizens. If you ignore and disrespect the interests of your allies you will lose your allies. If you ignore and disrespect the interests of your neighbours you will lose your trading partners. And if you ignore and disrespect the interests of your enemies you will promote conflict.
Now, the “leader of the free world” is not a term I coined. It is a term that is often used in reference to the US presidential office by that office. I am just saying that if you take on that responsibility then you have to act accordingly. It was not a title that was offered or presented … but more accepted on the basis of being the largest military and economic force today.
Now, the US has been attacked several times … well before 2001. They have used their weight (both militarily and economically) to get their interests fulfilled for years (prior to 2001) … and some people were fighting back. Don’t worry, the US is not the first to see such problems … Britain, France, and other colonial nations experienced the same thing over the last few hundred years.
In accordance with their interests and the protection of their citizens, the US had the right to strike back … especially post 9/11 and did so with the support of many nations. Quite frankly, terrorist activities should never be used as a means to get the point across. [I define terrorism as: an attack on civilians during an undeclared war for a political means] (Here is where we must be careful now … war has been declared … where does that leave terrorism? Are both sides fighting a ‘military’ battle with civilian casualties? … but that is a little off topic)
However, they then used this same situation to invade a second, and unrelated, nation using the spread FUD to drum up support. And this is where they did not respect the views and interests of the nation or the world community … and it has left then with less support (both militarily and politically), less sympathy, and less respect … has that been good for the citizens?
The point I am making is that if you are going to use force to invade, occupy, and instill a new political system in a nation other than your own you better have support. And I am talking international support not just a ‘few allies’. The nation being invaded will respond, their allies will respond, and if it goes against the interests of the global community then they will respond.
There have been a few nations that felt the interests of their people created a need to invade another nation … Germany (looking for “breathing room”), Japan(looking for resources), and Iraq (1991 – Oil and ocean front property) are just a few. And what did we do with those nations? The world told them “no” … and when push came to shove – the world shoved.
When you act out against another nation you need to take the interests of that nation along with the interests of the world community into account. Ignoring those will just bring resentment … and a world resenting your nation and your citizens is not in the best interest of those citizens.
Anyways … as Krishen pointed out … this could be a book.