07 July 2006

Brits as 'The Deciders': They Don't Trust Nor Admire the USA Leadership Anymore

In what can only be called an example of overdue irony as it comes on the heels of the 4th of July celebrations from them 230 years ago, a new study has been released of Britons and their opinions of their US cousins...and specifically those in charge of this country. The responses provided are so familiar in some ways to what our Founding Fathers levelled against King George III (and, no, the joke of 'King George' has not escaped me, either), it almost gives one pause. In fact, I read this study's conclusions alongside the Declaration of Independence that I included here just 3 short days ago. The final results shouldn't be earth-shattering, given the open shock the Brits expressed after Bush et al got re-elected in 2004, but it's more than a defeating affirmation that even when the citizens of the country most likely to support us feel this way about us...that we're doing something terribly wrong.

From a poll published in The Daily Telegraph (and then picked up by Yahoo! News):
"...The YouGov poll found that 77 percent of respondents disagreed with the statement that the US is "a beacon of hope for the world".

As Americans prepared to celebrate the 230th anniversary of their independence on Tuesday, the poll found that only 12 percent of Britons trust them to act wisely on the global stage. This is half the number who had faith in the Vietnam-scarred White House of 1975.

A massive 83 percent of those questioned said that the United States doesn't care what the rest of the world thinks.

With much of the worst criticism aimed at the US adminstration, the poll showed that 70 percent of Britons like Americans a lot or a little.

US President George W. Bush fared significantly worse, with just one percent rating him a "great leader" against 77 percent who deemed him a "pretty poor" or "terrible" leader.

More than two-thirds who offered an opinion said America is essentially an imperial power seeking world domination. And 81 per cent of those who took a view said President George W Bush hypocritically championed democracy as a cover for the pursuit of American self-interests.

US policy in Iraq was similarly derided, with only 24 percent saying they felt that the US military action there was helping to bring democracy to the country..."

So we're mostly liked as a people, but not as a country nor as a foreign power in a leadership role. What a dropoff...I was in London immediately after 9/11 and almost to a man, everyone who approached me there just knew we would 'do the right thing' as a country, would act as the standard for what other countries should do after such a horrible, yet temporarily unifying, tragedy. I'm sure these results are news to someone out there, but I sure as hell hope it's not to anyone in Washington.

And, by popular request and also to underscore how I don't even have faith and respect to the POTUS, Mr. Bush, I give you: Slate's frequently updated 'Complete Bushisms: The President's Accidental Wit and Wisdom'. Further proof that Cheney, Rumsfield and Rice are really the true Wizards of DCoz. Read, laugh, and then weep...especially when you realize this is the kind of oft-quoted material he's known the world over for...for ourselves and our friends (British and otherwise) overseas.

1 comment:

twitches said...

"the United States doesn't care what the rest of the world thinks."

I live in a very conservative area, and from what I see every day, this is true. At least for the majority of red-staters. In fact, they enjoy being hated by the rest of the world and take it as a badge of honor. They also enjoy being uninformed and "simple" (in that anti-intellectual sense) and love Dubya because he's so obviously unintelligent - another badge of honor. He's basically their Forrest Gump, and everything he does that irritates your average rational person (or downright scares them) endears him to them even more.

In Albert Camus' essay, "Defense of Intelligence," he writes: "If you merely make an effort to understand without preconceptions, if you merely talk of objectivity, you will be accused of sophistry and critized for having pretentions." He was writing about Europe in 1945, but I think it's true for the attitude in this country today. There are a hell of a lot of Americans who would read those statistics and think of them as compliments. More badges of honor. Sad, but true.