President Obama's rejection of the Keystone XL oil pipeline deal may have an unintended consequence---it could turn abysmally low world opinion ratings more favorably toward the United States.
Although House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) termed Obama's veto "a national embarrassment," the larger truth is that killing the pipeline is very much in the world interest---especially in nations where people are helpless to survive the rising tides of global warming.
What's more, by overwhelming numbers, Americans want to see a green shift to wind and solar anyway.
Far from embarrassing America, Obama's action could be a giant step towards resurrecting the wretched image of USA shared by most nations---not that Boehner could care less.
The Speaker doesn't seem to grasp planet Earth is a very leaky vessel hurtling through this universe and that literally billions of people could perish with the sinking ship if Obama followed his advice.
As James Hansen, the head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of America's foremost climate scientists warned several years ago that if the XL goes through, "Essentially, it's game over for the planet."
Maybe the opposition Republicans can't reckon how unfavorably Imperial America is viewed around the world, in good part because of their own blank check for Pentagon spending, and the consequences thereof. Boehner, after all, voted to support President Bush's foolhardy attack on Iraq.
In his book, "Daybreak,"(Seven Stories Press) author/activist David Swanson noted the low opinions of America that kept surfacing in world public opinion polls. The University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes(PIPA) asked people in 26 countries if the U.S. was having a positive or negative influence in the world.
"In only four countries did a majority think the United States was having a mostly positive influence," Swanson wrote. And U.S. State Department data from 1999 compared to polling by Pew (2009) found that favorable views of the U.S. had dropped precipitously as follows:
UK, down from 83% to 56%.
Germany, down from 78% to 37%.
Morocco, from 77% to 49%.
Indonesia, from 75% to 30%.
"In many countries around the world," Swanson quotes Steven Kull of PIPA as saying, "people express strong fears that the US will use military force against them." And Pew pollsters learned that in virtually every nation surveyed from 2003-2005, majorities perceived the U.S. as a military threat.
More recently, Richard Wike, director of global attitudes research at the non-partisan Pew Research Center, of Washington, D.C., has pointed to the seriousness with which many people view global warming. Wike stated:
"Global climate change was the top-rated threat in a 39-nation Pew"survey conducted in spring 2013. A median of 54% across these countries said global climate change was a major threat to their country, slightly more than the 52% who said this about international financial instability."
A goodly percentage of Americans also are urging less reliance on fossil fuels and more reliance (80%) on solar power and (73%) on wind power, according to the Natural Resoources Defense Council. Surveys now show that a 55%-majority of Democrats consider climate change a major threat, compared with just 42% of independents and 22% of Republicans.
"This (veto) is a big win (for Obama)," Bill McKibben, co-founder of the environmental group 350.org, told Reuters. Obama's decision "is nothing short of historic, and sets an important precedent that should send shockwaves through the fossil fuel industry."
In spiking the perilous pipeline deal, President Obama has scored a public relations victory of sorts that will reduce the hostility of thinking people everywhere towards America. Now if he would just take the oil out of the American war machine. #
(Sherwood Ross, a national public relations consultant, is a former wire service columnist and civil rights activist.)