In my speech in Florence, “The Danger of Being Hated,” I focused on how changing attitudes towards the United States around the world – but particularly among former key allies, such as Turkey, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, Spain and Italy – were seriously undermining the security of the United States, and also making essential cooperation in operations targeting terrorists progressively more difficult. The essential cure, I argued, was a return to less of a Lone Ranger foreign policy at home and abroad. That means return to a cautious bipartisan foreign policy at home that avoids to the full extent possible making foreign policy a subject of partisan debate, and investing more time and energy in the restoration of the traditional network of alliances that emerged in the period after World War II. I cited Dwight David Eisenhower as the appropriate role model for this process.
I continue to be astonished at the steadily growing levels of fear and hatred targeting the United States. But why should we be astonished? This phenomenon tracks developments within the United States. But overseas, George Bush and Dick Cheney seem to be despised in roughly equal measure, and the hatred seems especially intense in the countries that formed the core of our old alliance. The reaction might be compared to a jilted lover. Who are these men, and what do they have to do with the America we admired? That’s the essential question. And today we see some more depressing results.
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, the former KGB man with mysterious links to dirty tricks in Germany in the eighties. The man who is now tied to a series of murders of political opponents, including Politkovskaya and Litvinenko. A brutal figure, even if judged by most Russians approvingly as an effective leader. Now new Pew polling numbers are in from across Europe. Putin is more trusted than George W. Bush: in Canada by 8%, in Britain by 13%, in Germany by 13%, in France by 5%.
This is sad news and evidence of how much Bush has sunk America’s reputation in the world. Bush’s successor will have a tough time turning things around.