America's Image Abroad
Washington, DC Aug. 25th, 2006 ---- During the quiet summer months I have been calling contacts around the world to get an idea of the "State of the Image" of the United States. Remember under President Reagan I visited these countries and have first hand experience of the people and their valued opinion. The results were startling, and worrying. Under President Reagan many people thought he was a threat to world stability because of his attitude to Nicaragua and his tendency of considering what John Wayne would have done before making a decision. Much of the rhetoric was well meant, and not that serious. The world still liked Hollywood, McDonalds and US brands in the shops.
Sadly the United States has replaced Nazi Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union as the perceived torturing aggressor in billions of eyes, which needs to be contained. The vast majority of former friends believe the US Military deserves a "Bloody Nose", a far cry from the gratitude and affection of World War II. The image of D-Day has been replaced by Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. The loud culturally-challenged American tourist is now seen with contempt, and not with the benevolent affection of earlier decades.
But the fanatical evangelicals and loudmouthed rednecks who Karl Rove identified to sweep his charge, George W Bush into Austin and Washington don't give a S**t. They don't produce anything, or sell anything in the global marketplace. Sorry folks but we need to start thinking about our salesmen in the field, and the well paying jobs we are losing to overseas competitors. Unless we can persuade people around the world to buy our products, instead of an identical product from another country we have a problem.
Few journalists dare address this problem, as few actually venture out into the real world. Yesterday Wayne Madsen, an outspoken investigative journalist on a speaking tour of Eastern Europe wrote this:
Our image abroad: "The Lying States of America -- its more B.S. from the good ole LSA."
Forget all the talk about how people abroad may not like the Bush administration but still respect the American people. It's just not true. And because of a few well publicized sports doping cases involving American athletes and a belief that George W. Bush is not the only person in the U.S. government who has a problem with telling the truth, the USA is now considered to be the LSA -- the Lying States of America.
Two American track and field runners -- Justin Gatlin and Marion Jones -- have been caught in doping tests after denying they had used performance-enhancing drugs. Ditto for Tour de France winner Floyd Landis, whose denials about doping are not supported by test results. These cases point to a widespread belief by Europeans and others that America is now a place where people will do anything to win -- whether in global politics or sports. And if lying is necessary, Americans are perfectly willing to do that also.
This all suggests that years and years of work of American diplomats, military men and women, Peace Corps volunteers, and citizen ambassadors in trying to present a favorable view of the United States to the peoples of other countries is now down the drain -- thanks to the neocon-adopted Machiavellian tenet that the "ends justify the means."
But its not only the Bush administration and U.S. sports figures who remind people abroad that the United States is a nation of liars and half truth tellers. They only have to compare the propaganda emanating from CNN and compare it to their own news sources to realize that American lying and prevarication are now institutionalized in so-called news broadcasts. Middle East and other global coverage on CNN International is dominated by Christiane Amanpour, whose husband is Jamie Rubin, a "neocon-lite" political ort from the Clinton administration.
Considering CNN's political agenda, there is little wonder that the network's recent report on former New York Stock Exchange head Dick Grasso was favorable -- and that the description of New York Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer, who took on Grasso's obscene financial compensation package, was far less so. As a footnote, CNN mentioned that Grasso was close to Madeleine Albright -- but forgot to mention that she was Rubin's boss at the UN and State Department.
The problem is that even right wing Reaganites agree with Madsen's comments and the lack of honesty in both politics and sports. As regards CNN and Fox, they are now a joke, and should not be considered news. Anyone who has to remind viewers every couple of minutes that they are the "World's Most Trusted Source of News" is desperate and guilty of Brainwashing! It's the media version of the Chinese Water Torture. Having the luxury of continuously comparing multiple news feeds I too can agree with Madsen.
The response from the Naive and ill informed is to point to the millions flocking to move to America as proof that it is the admiration of the whole world, and anyone criticizing the image is unpatriotic and demoralizing our fighting troops in the War on Terror. Well the millions are poor workers from third world countries wanting a share in the profits and hard work of earlier generations. Most engineers, scientists, doctors and other key workers stay, learn and go back home. They can see the downward spiral of the quality of life.
Americans have traditionally had so much to be proud of, and it is not demonstrated by what the world has seen in the last 6 years. Despite massive immigration diluting the character of many areas, some where nobody speaks English, just Spanish, the country should be the beacon to the world. But more and more I see key leaders quietly moving their assets out of the USA, and buying property overseas, "For when the dollar crashes and the riots start". Many corporations are now moving their key assets to safe havens, whilst creaming in billions from defense and Homeland Security contracts.
We need to start caring about our image overseas, and stopping the flow of money and jobs to overseas regions with even higher profits to hide away. Don't let a handful of evangelical and greedy zealots ruin what took 200 years to create.