News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: How do THEY See Us?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

How do THEY See Us?

The following link argues that the US response to hurricane Katrina reflects badly overseas. The image of the US govt. floundering in the face of a natural disaster, seemingly incapable of helping its most vulnerable victims speaks volumes. The book that is being written in the eyes of the world about American democracy and what American freedom means is obvious when read from the scenes from NO ransmitted via TV around the globe.

Storm Warning
How the flood compromises U.S. foreign policy.
By Richard N. Haass
Posted Friday, Sept. 9, 2005, at 8:56 AM PT

. . . . .
What happens when water floods an important American city, leaving thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless, is something else again. It will be no easier to cordon off U.S. foreign policy from the effects of Hurricane Katrina than it has been to protect New Orleans from the waters of Lake Pontchartrain.

That a purely domestic event should have profound consequences for American foreign policy is not in and of itself new. U.S. prestige suffered a blow in 1992 when the Los Angeles riots were broadcast around the world. By contrast, Ronald Reagan's firm handling of the air-traffic controllers strike a decade before communicated resolve and firmness.

The initial federal and local reactions to Hurricane Katrina, however, have sent the opposite message. The images seen around the world communicated a lack of competence and considerable chaos and suffering. The dominant overseas reaction has been sympathy mixed with shock and horror at what was seen by many as evidence of racism and a reminder of the extreme poverty in which many Americans live. America's enemies indulged in schadenfreude. Hugo Chávez could not resist the chance to taunt President Bush; North Korea radio linked the U.S. "defeat" in Iraq with its "defeat" by Katrina; jihadists celebrated what had happened and the possibility the price of oil would soar even higher. The world's only remaining superpower appeared to be anything but. In an era of 24-hour satellite television and the Internet, public diplomacy is about who Americans are and what they do, not just what they say. Unlike Las Vegas, what happens here does not stay here.

The global impact goes beyond impressions. A priority of this administration's foreign policy is to promote democracy around the world. But the attractiveness of the American model, and the ability of the United States to be an effective advocate for more democratic, capitalist societies, which had already been weakened by the disarray in Iraq, is now weaker still as a result of the disarray at home. It will be more difficult to make the case for free markets and more open societies if the results of such reforms come to be associated with the disorder seen in New Orleans.

. . . . .

Read More

No comments: