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As Others See Us

Not everyone will be holding their collective breath as our current president (OCP) addresses the nation – and by implication – the world tonight. We can assume that families who have recently lost loved ones to the fighting in Iraq will not be tuned in. There will be a disconnect.

Each new loss in the war in Iraq is heartbreaking to the rest of us also, though we cannot possibly know how much, unless we experience it ourselves. The blogosphere noted with sadness this casualty news: Steve Clemons at TWN reports on the “Two Soldier Op-ed Writers Killed.” I had also written about these soldiers in an earlier S/SW post, Activism – Power through words and feet” (8/22/07). These courageous soldiers had expressed that they saw things differently than OCP.

The American people see things differently than the Washington establishment said respected blogger Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com on Sunday, Sept. 9. This disconnect was first expressed in the 2006 election. Greenwald’s post explaining why it is still that way was titled, “The DC Establishment versus American Public.” To quote (his links),

The Washington Establishment has spent the last several months glorifying Gen. David Petraeus, imposing the consensus that The Surge is Succeeding, and most importantly of all, ensuring that President Bush will not be compelled to withdraw troops from Iraq for the remainder of his presidency. The P.R. campaign to persuade the country that the Surge is Succeeding has been as intense and potent as any P.R. campaign since the one that justified the invasion itself. While this campaign has worked wonders with our gullible media stars and Democratic Congressional leadership, it has failed completely with the American people.

. . . But what is notable about all of this, if not surprising as well, is that the overwhelming majority of the American people now harbor such intense distrust towards our political and media elite that they are virtually immune to any of these tactics. Several polls over the past month have revealed that most Americans do not trust Gen. Petraeus to give an accurate report about Iraq. And a newly released, comprehensive Washington Post-ABC News poll today starkly illustrates just how wide the gap is between American public opinion and the behavior of our political establishment.

. . . One of the very few governmental institutions that inspired respect among Americans has been the military, and that is still the case. But anyone who becomes a part of our political class, such as Gen. Petraeus, is inherently distrusted. This war has completely eroded the relationship between our Beltway ruling class and the rest of the country. That would normally be something to lament, but in this case, it is something to celebrate. The Beltway ruling class — political and media figures alike — deserves nothing but scorn and distrust. As they spend the next several weeks enabling George Bush to continue this war for as long as he wants, they will earn a lot more of both.

The Iraqi people also see the war differently than the Washington establishment. We are not currently being greeted with flowers, because they do not think their lives are better since the U.S. invasion. For millions it was so bad that they felt compelled to flee the country. Those left are very unhappy with the situation and do not see us as a viable answer for their distress. The story is from the BBC news (9/10/07): “US surge has failed – Iraqi poll.” To quote,

About 70% of Iraqis believe security has deteriorated in the area covered by the US military “surge” of the past six months, an opinion poll suggests.

The survey for the BBC, ABC News and NHK of more than 2,000 people across Iraq also suggests that nearly 60% see attacks on US-led forces as justified.

This rises to 93% among Sunni Muslims compared with 50% for Shia.

Iraqi public opinion this week regarding the U.S. military and diplomatic reports to Congress remained skeptical. Juan Cole at Informed Comment reported at length on “Iraqi Reactions to the Petraeus/ Crocker Testimony” on this Wednesday, September 12, 2007. It is worth scanning because it reflects continuation of the previous negative trends:

This summary highlights select Iraqi TV reporting and commentary on the testimonies before Congress . . . in Washington on 10 September.

Much of the rest of the world will listen to the war speech of OCP tonight with considerable skepticism. And it may take years and years to repair the damage. How much trust has been lost was detailed in a recent article on an important U.K. survey headlined, “US suffers decline in prestige” from the Financial Times. It was written by Stephen Fidler in London on September 12, 2007 . To quote,

The US has suffered a significant loss of power and prestige around the world in the years since George W. Bush came to power, limiting its ability to influence international crises, an annual survey from a well regarded British security think-tank concluded on Tuesday.

The 2007 Strategic Survey of the non-partisan International Institute for Strategic Studies picked the decline of US authority as one of the most important security developments of the past year – but suggested the fading of American prestige began earlier, largely due to its failings in Iraq.

. . . But a more fundamental loss of clout occurred at a strategic level. “It was evident that exercise of military power – in which, on paper, America dominated the world – had not secured its goal,” the survey says. The failings in Iraq created a sense around the world of American power “diminished and demystified”, with adversaries believing they will prevail if they manage to draw the US into a prolonged engagement.

In the Middle East, the survey says, the loss of US influence encouraged some countries – notably Iran – to flex their muscles in the region; it provided ammunition for radical groups seeking to discredit the leaders of countries maintaining solid links with the US; and it encouraged other countries to hedge their diplomatic relations with the US by strengthening their links with other regional powers.

As others see us in economic terms is also rather disconcerting. The war in Iraq is probably not tied directly responsible for the losses to the value of the U.S. dollar. That is much more a function of the housing market bubble burst. It is related in this way, however. Risky home loans were made without taking into account whether the debt-ridden borrowers would be able to keep up the mortgage payments. In other words the easy money policy was greedy and short-sighted. The trillion dollar war in Iraq was terribly short-sighted and financially costly. The possibility of it turning into a civil war was never taken into account. From today’s BBC News we see that the Dollar hits new low versus euro. To quote,

The dollar has fallen in the past week, amid hopes that Federal Reserve will cut interest rates in a bid to reassure markets over current credit fears.

As others see us we do not look too good. People in other nations do not look to the United States for leadership as they once did. We are seen as occupiers in Iraq. Nor do we look very good to ourselves. There is a great disconnect between those who govern and the governed. There is little common ground between members of both political parties. Mistrust is widespread. And the 2008 election will soon be upon us. OCP will be in office 494 more days

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2 thoughts on “As Others See Us

  1. “Much of the rest of the world will listen to the war speech of OCP tonight with considerable skepticism. And it may take years and years to repair the damage.”
    Invading a small country that was never a threat to us in any way, capped off decades of simmering dislike for “the bully with a billion dollars rs to give away.” We would swagger in, throw money around, and leave once we had what we wanted, with no regard for the after effects.

    I won’t be watching OCP tonight. He’s gave the same speech with only minor variations on the lies in it, for the last four years.

  2. Thanks for your two recent comments, Future. Too bad you weren’t nearby for lunch. My “roommate” and I had tuna salad yesterday.
    You certainly did not miss anything by not listening to OCP last night. But he did finally admit what he wanted in Iraq – permanent bases. We always knew that, of course, and now, as you say, that is out in the sunshine. We’ll see what comes out next.

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