Does the Popularity of the United States Matter and Should It Affect Policy Decisions?

Posted by Frederick Jones
January 9, 2008
Protesters of U.S. Foreign Policy

Lots of polls show that foreign publics have a poor opinion of the U.S. Some people argue that this means the U.S. should change its policies to make them more popular outside the U.S. Others contend that foreign policy decisions need to reflect U.S. national interests, irrespective of their popularity.

Does the popularity of United States matter and should it affect policy decisions?



United States
January 22, 2008

Bill in U.S.A. writes:

I think that what this blog needs is to stop talking only about negative foreign "opinions" as though that were all they were. When negative opinions are substantiated by an overwhelming amount of documented evidence and testimony they are no longer just opinions. Why don't you guys talk about specific REASONS for the negative view of America? Negative foreign opinions are not all related to our foreign policies, they are the result of foreigners and Americans living overseas seeing countless examples of hypocrisy, arrogance, bullying, corruption, interference in the economies and governments of other countries, incompetence in foreign affairs, incompetence in intelligence gathering, and world-wide drug trafficking, by our federal government. They have many valid reasons for having negative opinions of us and even hating us, and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is doing nothing but voicing the opinions that so many Latin Americans and Europeans have of our government already. Why don't we post some specific reasons or examples of why they have these negative opinions? Are you all afraid of retaliation? I thought this was the land of free speech. I can well understand why you feel that way if you know much about the way our government really operates. I spent 23 years in Costa Rica and translated for the Nicaraguan Contra (FDN) for several years during Oliver North's drug trafficking operations. Costa Ricans, although officially a friend of the U.S., actually have a very negative opinion of our government, not so much of individual citizens but just our government, because they know for a fact that THEY are the ones really responsible for the drug trafficking that has been going on in Costa Rica. It is not their "opinion" that the U.S. government is involved; it is what they have actually observed and participated in directly. Hundreds of Costa Ricans have actually participated in the drug-trafficking operations, many times loading planes with drugs right along with U.S. agents or as one student told me, "watching U.S. Embassy personnel working all night to bury the burned remains of one of their drug planes that crashed near La Fortuna in northern Costa Rica. The hypocrisy of the U.S. government concerning the phony so-called "War Against Drugs" is so obvious to them that we have lost all their credibility and respect. The negative and even criminal influence of the United States on the economies, societies and culture of the countries in Latin America is ruining the lives of millions of people - and they can see clearly where this corrupting influence is coming from. Our foreign policies are indeed important to them but there is much more behind the story of their disgust and sometimes hatred for our government. As Andrei Gromyko commented to me in front of the BOQ at Argentina Naval Air Base when I was only 14, "I think that if you really and truly try to find out the truth about how your government operates and the things they do, I don't think you will like what you discover". I remembered that conversation all my life and I have found that he spoke the truth.

Tennessee, USA
January 23, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

"...of foreigners and Americans living overseas seeing countless examples of hypocrisy, arrogance, bullying, corruption, interference in the economies and governments of other countries, incompetence in foreign affairs, incompetence in intelligence gathering, and world-wide drug trafficking, by our federal government."

I wish to respond to this:

1. As so duly noted, there are peripherals associated to the view of American policy which are not a direct result of our Government. That is NOT American Policy, simply greed which usually results to a greater degree in non-democratic countries, as the Middle East, Africa and in the past South American third world countries. Greed, not policy, is much easier to promote in these areas.

2. Regardless of your view of the past South American process which took place from the 70's to the 90?s, the results are positive. Most countries there have added some 20 plus years to their citizens life spans. Many have over a 90% education rate and substantial growing economic bases. Most are independent with over a 75% democratic electoral premises which did not exist.

3. I am avoiding the Religion issue in the Middle East and elsewhere, as it is used simply a propaganda tool for political purpose for the most part. The people who fight the wars are generally not the people who start them.

4. Intelligence gathering is bar none in the U.S. Our problem was and is in the proposed balance of powers within our constitutional framework. This includes within the framework of the Military, Judicial and Executive branches, all whom have their own independent intelligence Agencies. It is complicated by the communication network as well as political orientation. Homeland Security was put together to start developing a higher degree of information networking on time. This process will take some time to develop and as the world is growing more complicated. We are catching up with the past plus putting together a more comprehensible and reactive information network with some of the best people available as Negroponte, who are familiar with the past.

5. American policy has to have an ?overview? to end goals, which often may not be premised in proper or seemingly moralistic behavior patterns as the situation with Ollie North. We have borders to protect, both economically and physically, which many people seem to forget. We forget because we are complacent in our Freedoms. Those borders are best served with democratic administrations who have mutual development of the citizen in mind. For all our faults, we are, even in a recession, better off than the rest of the world for that decision making pattern of the past. When you stop to think about it who really creates the wars? For the most part, non-democratic governments, fanatics, Little Hitlers and even now, our trend is due to dealing with non-democratic governments Economically as China. They have used our greed as a people, not the governments, better than bullets and bombs.

In South America and other third world countries where the people are trying to overthrow their regimes who are non democratic, they often do not have the financial resources to purchase the arms necessary to build a democratic union or state. They only have natural resources. Unfortunately, for America, we as the number one consumer of recreational narcotics use this resource. It was referred to as the Narco Dollar. In the late 60's and throughout the 70's, until the OPEC dollar, it was more valuable then gold. Even today, it is second only to the OPEC dollar. It is a commodity with value. Would it have been better for the let them rob, kill and steal from their citizens to gain the money to purchase arms? That would have been counter developmental. It was simply the lesser of two evils. The Greater Good does need to prevail and that does mean shaking hands with the devil more often than not.

While you batter the Govt. for dealing with narcotics, what have you done personally to help someone not use? This is a moralistic charge that is premised in our freedoms of choice, not the Governments fault.

You will find in some places of this Great Society that the old Moonshine sold by ministers has been replaced by another commodity. How is that the Governments fault?

Policy is directed toward our liberties and the betterment of humanity worldwide and no one does it better and with more consistency then the US.

There is no Waldens pond in any Policy and generalized statements toward decision-making are not viable.



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