Outside Looking In – the World View of our Election

With one convention down and one to go, an article written by Fred Kaplan of Slate called “The amazing chutzpah of Condi Rice” caught my eye. In short, he was taking issue with both the comments and source of such at the GOP convention by former Secretary of State, Condi Rice regarding the deteriorating view of the US by others in the world. On the latter point, he notes that Rice was ” a top advisor in the most disastrous, reputation crippling foreign policy administration in decades.”  On the former point, he noted the global view of the US is in a much better place than it was when George W. Bush left office. Per a recent survey by the Poll Research Center:

  • 60% of British citizens have a favorable view of the US as compared to 53% in 2008, the last year of Bush’s term.
  • 69% of French citizens have a favorable view of the US compared to 42% in 2008.
  • 52% of German citizens have a favorable view of the US up from 31% in 2008.
  • 72% of Japanese citizens have a favorable view of the US up from 50% in 2008.
  • Only the three Arab countries measured – Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan did it decline.

I am a recurring viewer of the BBC World News America, along with PBS Newshour, both of whom give a great perspective of the world and the “outside looking in” views of the US. I have seen Katty Kay, one of the BBC anchors based here on talk shows and she knows more about the issues than almost every US politician as she sees the issues with less bias and in a more holistic way which is refreshing. Outside of PBS Newshour, American news anchors tend to talk about the game of politics and steer clear of the substantive issues. Plus the real issues are less tantalizing (Clint Eastwood trumps Marco Rubio, e.g.)

This outside in view is helpful to describe the next point made by Kaplan regarding the world view on the election. According to a another Pew Poll as reported by CNN, global attitudes toward President Obama as a leader make Rice’s comments dubious:

  • 87% of the Germans, 86% of the French, 80% of the British and 74% of the Japanese have confidence in Obama .
  • More striking than that, 92% of the French, 89% of the Germans, 72% of the British and 66% of the Japanese want Obama re-elected.

Kaplan cites “The facts are these. Obama’s foreign policy, while hardly perfect, has been quite successful. He hasn’t caused any outright catastrophes. He ended the Iraq war. He approved his generals’ plans for escalating the war in Afghanistan, but when it did not work, he backed off instead of plunging deeper into the big muddy. And, some things Republicans wish everyone would forget – he ordered the killing of Osama Bin Laden and decimated al-Qaida.” He noted that the GOP needs to steer clear of foreign policy as their argument is weak. Kaplan has focused on the military issues, since he is a “War Stories”columnist for Slate.

If we look at some additional issues the world sees, then we can get an even better glimpse of the over-whelming support for Obama. One of the major concerns I have noted like a broken record is how can we trust a party who denies the existence of one of the greatest challenges facing the US and world? Global warming is here and is man-influenced. The data and number of scientists who cite this are overwhelming. The GOP is the only formal body in the world that denies global warming is happening. Individually, many GOP politicians say under their breath what they cannot say as a group, given the Oil and Gas industry heavy influence and funding of the party. The rest of the world clearly contrasts Obama’s position (such as the mpg and advocacy for alternative energy) versus the Romney and GOP positions of double-downing on fossil fuels and gutting the EPA.

The other issue is Obama coming down hard on the Wall Street crowd with the Dodd-Frank Bill and Consumer Protection Agency. The travails of the financial sector led by the US brought the world down and is a gift that keeps on giving – see JP Morgan Chase, Barclays, Bank of America and Wells Fargo stories over the past few months and weeks. For a party to continue to cry foul over the mismanagement and some criminal activities of banking leaders is beyond me. Bankers have earned every bit of scrutiny they are getting basically throwing out the window their reputation of financial stewardship. When I hear Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama (Senate Banking Leader) complain of the onerous regulations, my reaction should be the same as every American not sitting in a Bank board room – “tough shit.” You brought this one on yourself.

In America, these views get masked, though, by the political machinations. My friend Hugh Curtler (www.hugcurtler.wordpress.com) cites that in today’s world if you state a lie enough times it becomes the truth to some. The “failed stimulus,”  “we are Taxed Enough Already” and  “job-killing Obamacare” are examples of such a repetitive strategy, yet are not true. Yet, the world can see the forest for the trees hence the overwhelming support for Obama. As an Independent Voter, I see what they see – an imperfect President who has done a pretty good job as President. The stimulus worked per leading economists and the President has seen over 3 million jobs created on his watch. I also see a GOP that offers very few constructive ideas of our key problems of the day. To me, this choice should not be as close as it is in America. I greatly fear a GOP white house coupled with control of one or both of the houses as it will truly take our country back-wards and the rest of the world with it.

15 thoughts on “Outside Looking In – the World View of our Election

  1. This is an excellent post, and most timely. I sent it along to a good friend for his consideration. I greatly fear a return to the gunslinger days of GW Bush with a Romney presidency. His comments and agression towards Iran, and his reluctance to leave Afghanistan, show a man who is working on increasing his swagger without regards to the actual situation. Its easy for him to be agressive on the world military stage, like the Chicken Hawks Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rice of the previous administration, since none of his family is in the armed forces, and since he was a draft dodger in the Vietnam era.

    Maybe its time to accept that we can no longer be the police force of the world, draw down our troop levels in Europe and the Far East, and allow other countries to take on their own defense. This would reduce the military budget, plus allow us to focus on the surgical strikes that future wars are going to involve, and not the mass attack mentality of WW II. As the opinionators often say, our military-industrial complex it great at preparing for the last war.

    But of course Romney wants to increase Military spending to a constant 4% of GDP, and increase troop levels by 100,000, both of which the Pentagon has NOT asked for.

      • Thanks Hugh. My pleasure. I read some of your blogs on a hotel business computer earlier this week, but was reluctant to log in on someone else’s machine, so I did not comment.

    • Thanks Barney. We need less chest beating and more diplomacy. I am reminded of the movie “Braveheart” where the Uncle tell his new ward “first you learn to use this (pointing to his head), before you learn to use this (holding up the sword).” We need more of the former and less of the latter.

  2. I enjoyed your post! I couldn’t agree with you more about the BBC. Interestingly enough, the BBC programing that isn’t news is even far superior to anything coming out of America. From Monty Python in the 60’s to all the Masterpiece Theaters and Mysteries today… the writing, acting and production make American programming look pathetic. Ever notice that British actors look like real people, in all shapes and sizes, bad teeth and all, while American productions are full of Ken & Barbies? Perhaps it’s indicative of our inability to mentally occupy anything close to an objectively real world.

    All the Best
    Mrs. N.

    • Thanks for your comment. You are absolutely correct about the programming and “Ken and Barbies.” One of the clues to the PBS Newshour anchors and reporters knowing what they are talking about is they are not Ken and Barbies like they are on other stations. They are experienced veterans who have substance. My kids and I love Monty Python and my boys can recite lines from “The Holy Grail” and “Life of Brian.” Thanks and best regards. BTG

  3. It’s great that our reputation has been improving under Obama, but unfortunately these polls will mean nothing to the average American, who cares not a whit about foreign opinion. Our nationalism is so deeply ingrained, our arrogance and feelings of superiority makes it almost impossible to look beyond a narrow world-view. The other day I was chit-chatting with a stranger, who was so unbelievably stupid that it astounded me. He said Korea was a “really big city” and that we should “nuke” both Korea and Afghanistan, then the entire Middle East “all to hell.” Maybe I’m a pessimist, but this is the average mentality I encounter in the general public.

    Sure, there are thinking people here and there, but many of them are abstaining from voting, thinking that the two parties are two sides of them same coin. To a degree, that is true, though one side is clearly skewing to the extreme in the last few decades. Ron Paul would be a GOP dream candidate, except for his anti-war stance, which makes him the crazy old man of the party. This is saying a lot when he is compared to Steve King, Louie Gohmert, Michelle Bachmann, etc. The Tea has been laced with batshit crazy!

    • Many thanks for reading and offering your thoughts. You are absolutely correct about the “I don’t care what non-Americans think crowd.” I had an intelligent voter tell me that once and I said “you should care” as we are part of a much bigger fabric. You mention the dilemma about the non-voters. You have one party – the GOP – whose platform is largely built on big hairy audacious lies – no global warming, taxed enough already, failed stimulus, Obamacare is job killing, etc. So, we need people to vote for a party trying to move the ball forward. Thanks, BTG

  4. Great post. You are so right. Obama has done so much to improve the image of the United States abroad. I am very interested in that outside looking in perspective and feel better now than I have in many years when I see us as the world sees us. We still have a long way to go to rebuild our reputation after the disastrous Bush response to 9-11, but we are getting there. I frequently think about the world sympathies we had after 9-11 – I was in London during the musicians fundraiser after the event and you could feel the worldwide support at that moment – and all of that dissolved as we became more insular, frightened and nationalistic. Thanks for giving a different perspective – one that needs much more air time, if you ask me!

    • We dopn’t have a very bright image in the Middle East! Especially after recent events. One movie made by a cultist and the roof caves in. The people in that culture don’t understand why the President simply doesn’t stop such trash from even seeing the light of day. Perhaps it is an argument for censorship!! (Just kidding!)

      • Hi Hugh!! True. But I think our image in the middle east is bad for a reason and that this video is just a symptom for a bigger problem, which is the general division and racism in our country.

      • Like I mentioned to Hugh in a response about the Middle East, the same is true here. We must call out the bigotry when we see it and shine a white hot spot light on it.

      • On the flip side, they were some very positive signs in Libya by the leader and people who denounced the actions. The arrests helped. The fact is there is little we can do about this from the outside. It has to be led by the moderate Muslims who will chastise the radicals. Look at what Turkey has been able to accomplish, e.g.

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