For the past few years, America has been alienated from the world. We have all read the yearly polls with the same damning numbers. But on one issue, the United States and the world agree: majorities everywhere expect things to improve markedly after George W. Bush. Whether it’s in Europe or Asia, the refrain from politicians, businessmen and intellectuals is the same. “We don’t hate America,” one of them told me recently. “We hate Bush. When he’s gone, it will be a new day.”
But will it? The question will be put to the test in a year, when a new president enters the White House.
There’s little doubt that the style and substance of U.S. foreign policy over the past seven years has provoked enormous international opposition. What is less clear is that the style and substance were unique products of the Bush administration. Some part of the global response was surely the product of longstanding unease with U.S. dominance. After all, France’s foreign minister coined the term “hyperpuissance” to describe America under Bill Clinton, not George W. Bush.
Then came 9/11. Ever since the attacks, the United States has felt threatened and under siege and determined to carve out maximum room to maneuver. But where Americans have seen defensive behavior, the rest of the world has looked on and seen the most powerful nation in human history acting like a caged animal, lashing out at any and every constraint on its actions. [complete article]