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Tuesday, December 21, 2004

 

[Week 1] ~TCL's View

Question: What is the biggest threat to America?
Answer: Americans.

Well, I guess I'll be the first to jump in here. Note - for reading ease, I will be placing all links to sited sources at the bottom of the page. Just match the little red numbers. =)

This is a good broad question to start us out, but it's a bit vague; personally, I think that we can group our biggest threats into 4 categories. Political, Social, Economical and Military (ideas for later topics, Casual?) That being said, I wrote this because I feel that the greatest threat to our lives, and or way of living, is ourselves.

We are a nation divided. It should come to no surprise to you if you even glance at the newspaper. Both parties spew animosity and hatred towards each other. We have not made much of an effort to work together, united as Americans, instead of seperated by affiliation. We need to put the election to rest, retire the bitching and the gloating, and focus on something productive. For starters, we could pay more attention to life outside of the US. Let's be honest; when it comes to foreign affairs, we would rather watch Survivor - Africa than the BBC. This is made painfully obvious when you turn on the television.

Watch your local evening newscast. Out of the 45 minutes of actual news, perhaps 3 - 5 minutes are dedicated to world events. We are being sheltered from all the bad things that happen elsewhere. Collectively, we are like small children who put their fingers in their ears when it's time to go to bed. "Lalalalalala! If I don't hear it, then it's not true!" We don't want to see the dead soldiers. We don't want to see innocent civillian hostages being beheaded. We don't want to see suicide bombings. Well, we're told that we don't want to see them, anyway.

Because of this report-only-the-good-things mentality that the press has adopted, and the listen-to-only-the-good-things mentality we have adopted, we tend to miss it when other countries voice their opinions about America. Here's some examples of how the general population of the planet Earth views the US of A. I didn't cover all the continents, but here's a smattering for you.

Canada:

According to a Harris Interactive Poll, most Canadians, like most Europeans, are clearly able to differentiate in their attitudes between different aspects of the United States, its government and its policies. Substantial majorities of Canadians hold negative views of President Bush (by 67% to 17%), of U.S. policy in Iraq (by 65% to 21%), and of American foreign policy since 2000 (by 60% to 15%). (1)

Unsurprisingly, American perceptions of this country are generally much more positive than the perceptions of Europeans and Canadians. Majorities have positive opinions not only of the American people but also (by 54% to 22%) of American values, American food (by 76% to 9%), the quality of life in America (by 72% to 15%), and of the American system of government (by 59% to 23%). (2)

"In 1981, only 8 percent of Canadians had an unfavorable view of the United States. Now, 45 percent have an unfavorable view," said Michael Adams, a veteran pollster and philosophical proponent of the view that the two societies are diverging. "There has never been that kind of lopsided skew." (3)


Europe:

At least seven in 10 [people] in France, Germany and Spain said they have an unfavorable view of the U.S. president. Just over half of the French and Germans said they have an unfavorable view of Americans in general, and about half of Spaniards felt that way. (4)

[Germany], America's staunchest ally on the continent during the Cold War, has strongly opposed the drive toward war [in Iraq]. In June of last year, 61 percent of Germans had a favorable opinion of the U.S. That number plunged this year to 25 percent.

In France, where respondents last year held a 63 percent mostly favorable view of the United States, the number has fallen to 31 percent. Similarly, in Italy, the favorable opinions fell to 34 percent from 70 percent.

Only those in two nations - Poland and Britain - held views toward America that were more favorable than not. But that support has sharply diminished over the past year. Poles, who have long embraced the United States because of family ties and as protection against stronger neighbors, held a view that was 79 percent favorable of the United States last year. The new poll places that positive view at only 50 percent.

Last year, 75 percent of Britons had a generally positive view of the United States. This year, that number fell to 48 percent, while negative views more than doubled.

The United States did not fare any better with other partners in the anti-Iraq coalition. The Spanish, for example, held a 74 percent unfavorable opinion of the United States, and 79 percent of them opposed Bush's policies, even as that country's prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar, hews tightly to Washington's strategy. (5)


Mexico

A majority of people in Canada, Mexico and five European countries have an unfavorable view of the role that President Bush plays in world affairs, Associated Press polls found. The AP polls were conducted by Ipsos, an international polling firm.

Only in the United States did a majority of those questioned, 57 percent, have a positive view of President Bush's role.

Just over half in Mexico and Italy had a negative view of Mr. Bush's role. In Britain, the closest U.S. ally in the war in Iraq, and in Canada, two-thirds had a negative view. (6)



Middle-East:

In Zogby's 2002 survey, 76 percent of Egyptians had a negative attitude toward the United States, compared with 98 percent this year. In Morocco, 61 percent viewed the country unfavorably in 2002, but in two years, that number has jumped to 88 percent. In Saudi Arabia, such responses rose from 87 percent in 2002 to 94 percent in June. Attitudes were virtually unchanged in Lebanon but improved slightly in the UAE, from 87 percent who said in 2002 that they disliked the United States to 73 percent this year.

Those polled said their opinions were shaped by U.S. policies, rather than by values or culture. When asked: "What is the first thought when you hear 'America'?" respondents overwhelmingly said: "Unfair foreign policy." (7)


Arab Attitudes Toward the US: June 2004/April 2002

Country - Favorable/Unfavorable

Morocco: 11/88 (2004) vs. 38/61 (2002)
Saudi Arabia: 4/94 (2004) vs. 12/87 (2002)
Jordan: 15/78 (2004) vs. 34/61 (2002)
Lebanon: 20/69 (2004) vs. 26/70 (2002)
UAE: 14/73 (2004) vs. 11/87 (2002)
Egypt: 2/98 (2004) vs. 15/76 (2002)

In five of the six countries we measured in both 2002 and 2004 (Morocco, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt) there was a decline in the US’s favorable ratings. This decline was most significant in Morocco, Jordan, and Egypt. Only in the UAE was there a slight increase in the positive rating. (8)


Poll Chart (9)





As you can see, we rank pretty high on more than a few shit lists. Now, I know that you've probably seen these floating around over the past few weeks, but I reposted a few of the transcripts (10) to further exemplify my point. I've edited them down quite a bit, but you can see original, unedited transcript with the link I included (I didn't do a Michael Moore edit, I promise.) Or, you can watch the quicktime movie (11).


From the November 30 edition of FOX News' Hannity & Colmes:

COULTER: Conservatives, as a general matter, take the position that you should not punish your friends and reward your enemies. And Canada has become trouble recently.

It's -- I suppose it's always, I might add, the worst Americans who end up going there
. The Tories after the Revolutionary War, the Vietnam draft dodgers after Vietnam. And now after this election, you have the blue-state people moving up there.
[...]
COULTER: There is also something called, when you're allowed to exist on the same continent of the United States of America, protecting you with a nuclear shield around you, you're polite and you support us when we've been attacked on our own soil. They [Canada] violated that protocol.
[...]
COULTER: They better hope the United States doesn't roll over one night and crush them. They are lucky we allow them to exist on the same continent.
[...]
ELLIS HENICAN [Newsday columnist]: We share a lot of culture and a lot of interests. Why do we want to have to ridicule them and be deeply offended if they disagree with us?

COULTER: Because they speak French.

COLMES: There's something else I want to point out about the French. Is it's fashionable again on your side to denounce the French.

COULTER: We like the English-speaking Canadians.


From the November 30 edition of CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports:

CARLSON: Without the U.S., Canada is essentially Honduras, but colder and much less interesting.
[...]
CARLSON: We exploit your [addressing Canadian Member of Parliament Carolyn Parrish] natural resources, that's true. But in the end, Canadians with ambition move to the United States. That has been sort of the trend for decades. It says something not very good about Canada. And I think it makes Canadians feel bad about themselves and I understand that.
[...]
CARLSON: Canada needs the United States. The United States does not need Canada.


From the November 30 edition of CNN's Crossfire:

CARLSON: Canada's essentially -- essentially a made-in-Taiwan version of the United States.
[...]
CARLSON: Doesn't that tell you something about the sort of limpid, flaccid nature of Canadian society, that people with ambition come here? What does that tell you about Canada?


Now, as I said before, I won't base my opinions of a political group because of a few lone nutjobs. Unfortunately, people like these have powerful voices, and everyone around the world has CNN. If all you hear are cocky, self-important individuals voicing negative comments about anyone/where/thing that isn't America, then logic dictates that that is the mindset of the typical American.

Not all Muslims are terrorists. But we see stories about Islamic funtamentalists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Chechnya, Indonesia, Sudan and even Holland. They're everywhere! How can we tell the normal Muslims from the radical Muslims? Maybe it's just easier to be distrustful of anyone who wears a turban or a ghutra.

See? It's that easy. Apathy is commonplace. We'd rather complain about our problems than solve them. We'd rather stick to our ways and bicker, than open our minds and find a common ground on which to form a foundation for a stronger society. Other countries see this, they see our arrogance and smugness, the way that we flaunt our authority. It's not just that we're uneducated about foreign countries. It's because we're uneducated, and we have no desire to learn. That, ladies and gentlemen, is why we are our own greatest threat. We've been THE superpower for about 50 years now. With that title comes all the heat. If we don't start protecting our best interests outside of our borders, instead of focusing inward, and if we don't stop carelessly and flippantly burning our bridges, we are going to find ourselves very alone. And who will protect you when you're the enemy? All empires topple. It's inevitible that someday, ours will too.




Sources
Harris International Polling (1)
Axcess News Network (2)
The Concord Monitor (3)
MSNBC (4)
International Herald Tribune (5)
CBS Newsl (6)
The Washington Post (7)
Zogby Internation Polling & The Arab American Institute (8)
Zogby International Polling (9)
CNN Transcripts (10)
CNN / FOX News Video (11)


Comments:
Wow! I wish I had written that!

I could not possibly agree more with you on this.

I am continuosly mistified by the willingness of Americans to only see what they want to see. Obviously, the media and the political machine have much to do with this, but come on people...open a paper. Look at other perspectives.

Engage your brains for more than the Amazing Race, Fear Factor, or the Apprentice.

Believe me, if you try to see the forrest for the trees you will be amazed at what you have been missing, and blindly defending.
 
No, I don't think it matters what Eurowussies think of us. Do THEY consider the needs of Americans when they vote?

Near as I can tell, the vocal Euros want to take everything fundamentally American away from the US and make it more like Europe. News flash: we fought a revolution over that. I LEFT Europe to get away from that.

Conversely, to be fair, I don't want us wasting time or money trying to Americanize Europe.

If you think the press is only reporting the GOOD side of the war, you're smoking crack. I know first hand a LOT more about what's going on over there than anyone on this list. The mainstream press is whoring for ratings by taking everything they can in as anti-American a fashion as possible. Minor issues with local Iraqis and minor morale problems are being blown up as "We're losing the war!"

If they actually reported what was happening in an unbiased fashion, 90% of Americans would support what we're doing. (Yes, I'm aware the original reasons for the invasion no longer apply. That happens in war. There are, however, sufficient reasons to still be there. See Roosevelt's WWII attack on North African countries who were not involved with Germany...yet.)

I do agree on the partisanship being a problem. People I thought of as friends were acting positively pogromish after the election. "Everyone who voted for Bush is an illiterate, nigger-whuppin', Christofascist, inbred, bucktoothed, redneck moron."

Right. I meet none of those criteria, nor do any of my friends. Most of us voted for Bush.

And I fear that if that attitude persists, the Dems have given up any hope of winning 2008 already. Now, does ANYONE rational want a ONE party system? I don't. One of the things I like most about this area is the candidate forums at the library. Very few Dems ever win around here, but people DO attend, DO ask questions and DO listen to the answers. And the candidates are thanked earnestly for participating.

If I had to add a minor threat to the list (because I don't see it changing), is the "I'd love to vote for a third party but I don't want to throw my vote away."

I hope those people will be the ones who stay home. Endorsing a candidate you don't support IS "Throwing your vote away."
 
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