|In his 2002 ‘State of the Union’ speech, President George W. Bush proclaimed that the trio of North Korea, Iran and Iraq constituted an “axis of evil,” borrowing the term used to identify the allied enemies during World War II; the “axis powers,” which consisted of Hitler’s Nazi Germany, Mussolini-controlled Italy, and Imperial Japan. Bush said that of this new axis that, “the price of [their] indifference would be catastrophic.” |
With that, President Bush has already eliminated one member of the axis of evil (Iraq), is bending over backwards to appease another (North Korea), and is dangling a carrot in front of the third to bring them to a negotiating table over their very real nuclear program (Iran).
Well, move over axis of evil, there is a new axis in town, the ‘axis of the abhorred.’ Consisting of the two remaining axis of evil members plus, you guessed it, the United States. Bush’s words have now come full circle, and the price of Bush’s indifference was the world’s opinion of the US.
In a recent poll conducted by GlobalScan, BBC World Service surveyed 28,389 people in 27 different countries. The poll asked the interviewees to rate other countries as either a mostly positive influence in the world, or as a mostly negative influence. Three of the four most negatively rated countries are – in order – North Korea (48% negative), United States (51% negative) and Iran (54% negative). For the curious minded, the most negatively viewed country was Israel, at 56%.
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The negative view of the United States does not originate primarily from countries that many might consider to be the enemies of the Unites States or freedom or democracy, but rather nations who are America’s traditional allies, the likes of which are Great Britain; its citizens viewed the US as being 57% negative, Canada (56%), Mexico (53%), Australia (60%), Germany (74%)… and many others. Here at home, 51% of Americans view the nation as being a primarily negative influence throughout the world.
For a country that had the overwhelming support of the world in the wake of September 11th, 2001, what went wrong?
For most of the world, it all began on January 29th, 2002 when Bush first delivered the “axis of evil” comment at the annual State of the Union address. Bush’s administration quickly adopted a policy that can be called “either you’re with us or yer against us.”
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This type of foreign policy was looked poorly upon by both US allies, and by those fearful of being named as an enemy to the United States. As for US allies, the cost of France deciding not to support Bush’s war in Iraq led to months of slander against a country that is responsible for America winning its independence from the British. Even members of the US Congress got in on the pettiness by renaming ‘french fries’ to ‘freedom fries.’ Moreover, as a punishment, Bush’s administration hired no contractors from countries that detracted from the war.
For the allies who did support the US, the cost was far greater. After suffering terrorism on their own soil, in 2004 the Socialist Workers Party, led by Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, ousted the Conservative party in Spain which had supported Bush and sent 1300 Spanish troops into Iraq.
The situation has also gotten out of hand for America. After more than four years of occupation in Iraq, the violence only continues to worsen as the body counts rise on both sides. Iraq has become a recruitment tool for terrorism, as cooler heads has foreseen years earlier.
“Look, look and see what America has done in Iraq. Go to Iraq, it’s your chance to kill Americans, kill the infidels!” young Muslim men are told before buying into the idea of traveling to Iraq to murder and torture westerners. And not just in Iraq, US allies Australia, the United Kingdom, Spain and Turkey have also become targets.
The cost of business has also become unbearable for Bush’s allies at home. In a massive upset, the Democratic Party not only easily retook the House of Representative away from Republican control, but managed to squeak out a victory in the Senate, which even had to surprise now Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada). Many of the casualties of the 2006 midterm election, such as Jim Talent (R-Missouri), had done nothing more to deserve being fired other than to support the President.
With Democrats in control of both houses of the legislative branch of government, and with public opinion on their side, Bush is partially castrated when it comes to initiating any new foreign policy.
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Though much of his power has been revoked by the people, President Bush remains a globally polarizing figure used as a prop to turn millions against the once revered USA.
“Mr. President, you have not only put us in harm’s way, but you have harmed us,” said Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware), the Senate Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and Democratic Presidential Candidate of Bush’s Iraq policy on the Senate floor.
Of course he is right, he has cost the lives of thousands of American troops, hundreds of American citizens, soldiers and citizens of our allies, and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians. He has destroyed America’s image in the world, and as a result Bush has nurtured and cultivated a mindset that the true enemies of the United States use to inflict damage upon the world.
Biden is not alone in his opposition of Bush, nearly every Democrat, and at least one third of Republicans, agrees that the President’s administration has been wrong, is wrong, and continues to be wrong on foreign policy.
With the 2008 election fast approaching, the winner of the contest will have the formidable task at hand. Not since Truman succeeded Roosevelt has a new President entered into office facing such a critical task that could affect Americans and the world for generations; not winning the unwinnable war in Iraq, but picking up the pieces of America’s image and putting it back together. If the next guy (or woman, as the case maybe) cannot accomplish that mission, then the future of a US role on the world stage may be forever darker.
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Founder of "The Rev. Rob Times," (www.revrob.com) Rev. Robert A. Vinciguerra has been a longtime student of journalism. From Phoenix, Arizona.
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