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What's Wrong With Unpopular Foreign Policy?


Glenn Greenwald, one of the better new bloggers on the left, takes apart this Washington Post op-ed piece by David Ignatius - a pity party about how America is reviled overseas. Among the many great sections of Greenwald's piece,

That America faces real dangers in the world is beyond dispute for rational people, but -- just as Americans care more about the dangers threatening them than they care about dangers which threaten other countries -- the dangers facing America will naturally be under-appreciated and under-valued by people in countries for whom those dangers pose no threat.

The important corollary to this principle is that measures which Americans believe are appropriate and justified in order to confront these threats will be viewed as excessive and unwarranted by people in other countries, who view those threats as less significant and alarming than Americans do. For that reason, among others, the popularity or lack thereof of America's foreign policy in other countries should not be used as a metric for determining the rightness of America's actions.

Read the whole thing...

It's also worth noting that people like Ignatius were writing exactly the same thing during the Reagan years about how awful it was that we were pursing peace through strength, trust but verify, etc. In both cases tens of millions of people gained their freedom while international opinion was squarely against changing the status quo. Then, as now, international opinion mattered not one bit to those freed from the bonds of oppression...

Comments (11)

I don't always agree with A... (Below threshold)

I don't always agree with Ann Coulter but here's one thing I do agree with her on:

Democrats couldn't care less if people in Indiana hate them. But if Europeans curl their lips, liberals can't look at themselves in the mirror.

That pretty much covers what I think is wrong with the way foreign policy is shaped.

Calling all proud American ... (Below threshold)
melior in France:

Calling all proud American war-supporting patriots!

I hear there's a huge pro-War rally this weekend to support President Bush and counter some of the negativity and pessimism coming from Cindy Sheehan and those thousands of other angry war mothers, and now even from ungrateful pragmatic veteran hawks like Rep. Murtha.

It's illegal now Thank God to get within seven miles of the Bush ranchette, so everyone should plan to meet up on Saturday morning at 8am sharp, right outside the main gate to Green Zone in Baghdad. It's the only real way to show our soldiers that support for them means more than just jingoistic bleating, waving tiny flags, and smearing the majority of Americans as traitors!

I think it is no coincidenc... (Below threshold)

I think it is no coincidence that the countries that are known to revile the US are the same countries that Saddam paid bribes to their journalists and government officials.

I have travel extensively around the world and my experience has been that the MSM and the chattering classes in many countries revile the US, but the normal people love Americans.

In addition, the people in those countries hate their MSM and chattering classes just as people do in the US.

I have several friends who ... (Below threshold)

I have several friends who are ardent supporters of Ignatius' position. One happens to be a staunch secularist. So, some months ago when he posed the Ignatius' argument to me for the umpteenth time I just told him it was an admirable position - it's just what Jesus would say: turn the other cheek. Well, I admit my statement really wasn't a reasoned or particularly relevant reply to his argument but the moment of silence induced by my spiritual threat was quite refreshing. Anyway, Greenwald's piece was a pleasure to read and thank you for referencing it. I am now curious to check out more writings on Greenwald's blog.

Kind of off the subject her... (Below threshold)

Kind of off the subject here, but I'm hoping you guys can address this issue. Can someone explain to me how Mohamed ElBaradei and the IAEA got a Nobel Peace prize for allowing Iran and North Korea to continue their nuclear weapons programs? In light of the fact that he refuses to acknowledge Iran's statement that they are proceeding with uranium enrichment, doesn't this seem at odds with keeping nuclear weapons technology out of the hands of terrorist-sponsoring states?
Then he says, "The award basically sends a very strong message, which is: Keep doing what you are doing." Which is what, exactly? Allowing countries like Iran to continue their development of nuclear weapons? Being an "unafraid advocate" of terrorists with nuclear weapons?

Glenn Greenwald is not a "b... (Below threshold)

Glenn Greenwald is not a "blogger on the left." I could not begin to distill his views in a comment -- and it would be better if his own words continue to speak for him -- and I as a libertarian hawk certainly disagree with some of his positions, but he is not a leftist.

JohnJ:The Nobel Pr... (Below threshold)


The Nobel Prize for Peace and the Nobel Prize for Literature has only one requirement and it is the same for both prizes.

The two people who have done the most outstanding job of promoting Anti-Americanism win those prizes.

Greenwald's argument is bas... (Below threshold)

Greenwald's argument is basically that we shouldn't worry about what other governments think, since they are just concerned about what affects their interests, as opposed to being worried about right vs. wrong.

I do not think that our foreign policies should be determined by what France, Germany, China, or Brazil happens to think we should be doing. Of course they all have their own interests, and what they want might indeed be whats best for them.

But I also dont think that we need to go around doing things with some kind of cavalier attitude either...I think we need to critically assess the effects of our foreign policies, in order to take into account and understand what our actions really result in.

I really dont like to hear my fellow Americans talk as if all other nations are full of idiots, and we should be able to do what we wish, hell, because we're 'Mericans dammit.

That doesnt mean that I think we should listen to some French politician everytime he starts railing on us either, by any means. It's all about balance. So goes diplomacy and foreign policy.

I'm glad that Greenwald talks about these things in terms of "interests," since that's what governs the choices of our nation, and all others, much more so than any kind of ethical or moral stance. Thats what I think at least. It's all power and politics, even though we like to tell ourselves otherwise.

Thanks for the link to that... (Below threshold)

Thanks for the link to that post-it's a good 'un!! :-)

Greenwald's post got me to ... (Below threshold)

Greenwald's post got me to thinking: What if we did determine our foreign policy by what the rest of the world thought?

Saddam's Iraq would have eventually gotten the U.N. sanctions lifted, possibly a year or two ago. He would have re-armed Iraq, kicked his WMD programs into high gear, and prepared for war. In a few years, maybe by 2010, he would have attacked one of his neighbors, possibly Saudi Arabia.

But there would be a distinct difference between this war and the first Gulf War. The Iraq army would be armed to the teeth, undoubtedly using WMD's with reckless abandon.

Did I mention who would be called to save the world? Yes, the U.S., as always. And we'd come running like the loyal dogs we are. And our losses would easily top the 2,000+ soldiers we've lost in our current Iraq war. And the world would love us. For a year. Maybe.

Very true, Kevin, but in as... (Below threshold)

Very true, Kevin, but in assessing the level of threat, a part of the decision making process should always depend on how much does a country's population actually know. The results of this survey were disturbing. You can test yourself with 20 sample questions and see how your young compatriots fared in comparison with other developed countries here.






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