November 12, 2004

Foreign Policy is a Popularity Contest

Pandagon has a good post up today about the real problem that Bush has:

The underlying issue, which is going to keep foiling our every foreign policy whim, is that foreign populations have begun to hate us. A lot. That means foreign governments can curry favor with their citizenry by standing up to us, by opposing us, by obstructing us and by fighting our priorities. Their incentives lead them to block our projects and ignore our criticisms, not the other way around. And if that remains the case, we're in real trouble.

America is going to have a hell of a time making anybody listen to us because there's a tremendous incentive for foreign leaders to cross us. After all, Democracy has already marched into many of these capitals, and these Presidents and Prime Ministers want the approval ratings. Proving that they won't back down to the hated Americans is one easy way to get them.

American foreign policy for the last 200 years has been to promote democracy in other nations. While we haven't been perfect, there are now a hell of a lot of democracies out there. In fact, the vast majority of the world's cultural, economic, and military resources are in the hands of democratically elected governments. That's why Bush being hated abroad is such a problem. Cooperating with Bush really hurts foreign leaders at home. Being against US foreign policy is a winning election issue almost everywhere these days. And elections are happening everywhere. That has real consequences that will cost the US soldiers, money and diplomatic capital. It makes every US foreign policy goal harder to reach and these goals are damn important.

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