Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Does it Matter what the Europeans think of America?

I have a good friend—a liberal—who is mortified by what he considers the sullied reputation of the United States as a result of Bush administration policies generally, and the Iraq war in particular. In his view, the USA’s ‘diminished’ status internationally makes gaining international cooperation on global issues far more difficult. It seems like many liberals feel the same way as he.

I, however, have a different view. First of all, I know of no definitive evidence that the reputation of the USA has been adversely affected. Moreover, I don’t see that it matters one way or the other anyway. To be completely honest, I really don’t care a wit what the rest of the world thinks of the USA. It’s always nice to be liked, I suppose, but I don’t define my sense of worth based on what others think of me.

In our many debates on this subject, my friend argues that it will be much more difficult to line up international support for US interests and objectives if the people from whom we seek such support don’t “like us”. My position is that France will do what is in the best interests of France first, and the world second, and the United States a distant third. (OK, so the French are a bad example; they dislike everything and everyone not French.) All countries, in fact, will do what is what they believe to be in their best interests, then the best interests of the world. How they ‘feel’ about the USA is, and should be, irrelevant.

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