Why We Don't Get No Respect by Fareed Zakaria: "July 3-10, 2006
Why We Don't Get No Respect
'It's not a real conversion,' remarks one senior European politician. 'It's a product of failure.'
By Fareed Zakaria
"The Bush administration must wonder these days if it has a Rodney Dangerfield problem. No matter what it does, it can't seem to get any respect. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has engineered a broad shift in American diplomacy over the last year, moving policy toward greater multilateralism, cooperation and common sense on Iran, North Korea and Iraq, and several other issues. And yet it hasn't produced a change in attitudes toward the United States. The recent Pew global survey documents a further drop in America's poor image abroad. President Bush tried to be conciliatory while visiting Europe last week but confronted an angry public. A poll published in the Financial Times on the eve of his visit showed that across the continent, the United States was considered a greater threat to world peace than Iran or North Korea.
Why aren't people noticing the new, improved Bush foreign policy? First, the changes coming out of Washington have been very recent. Perhaps more important, they remain incremental and incomplete. This is probably because they are still contested within the administration. Almost all of those officials who embody the administration's crude and clumsy policies of the first term-led by Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney-remain in office. They merely appear to be lying low, for now. So there's a limit to how much things can change. What appears like a revolution in Bush policy the administration is now finally thinking that maybe, possibly, Guantanamo should be shut down often is just the belated arrival of common sense. "
... In other words, if you set the bar low enough, the American public might applaud you but don't expect the rest of the world to stand up and cheer just because you've improved your performance from Terrible to Merely Mediocre.