A long time Republican friend recently asked me, "Just how bad is the American reputation in those countries? How long will it take the US to recover from the Bush years? How could a father and son be so different?" She asked for permission to send my email below to friends, and suggested I post it on the Huffington Post.
My work takes me out of the country at least half the year. Recently I've been to England, France, Spain, Monaco, Morocco, Russia, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Canada, Mexico, China and Malaysia.
The American reputation out there? We are despised now! The damage done by the consciousness and decisions of this administration could take a generation (or more) to repair. I'm outside of the USA each year as much as I'm in it. I've watched the reaction to Bush (and his cabal) go from an incredulous, "Do Americans really support this guy (when he was first elected), to a general, "Your administration sucks, but we know the American people are good...", to current anger, "You f_____ing Americans !@#$%^!!!" This administration's attitude and policies and communications and decisions are horribly misrepresenting who we are as a people and country. Even teenagers figure out that "Do as I say, not as I do." statements by their parents carry no weight or value and can be disregarded. The ends and the means are the same. Hypocrisy and arrogance don't work.
I've lost a couple contracts in Europe in the last year solely because I'm an American. Two international companies, well know and respected brands, told me directly, "We really value your work and hope to continue at some point, BUT it doesn't look good for us to be working with an American consultant right now..." I wonder how many other American companies are losing business and aren't being told directly why?
There is much developing in reaction to Bush that doesn't make the U.S. News. This I believe is a real longer term threat to the USA, more than terrorism. Our government is, and has, in their arrogant superiority, alienated potential partners and existing friends. The bush cabal policies and attitudes are isolating us. In their self-serving greed and lust for continuing power, and believing force is power, they have demonstrated that they don't comprehend the difference between cooperative win/win and competitive win/lose. A very large segment of the business population, as well as the general public, has evolved toward this understanding in the last 30 years. Apparently this higher consciousness is above the cabal. As bush said, "You're either with us or against us."
I was in Lithuania last Spring when Cheney was there . He gave a speech which was all over front pages of European newspapers but seldom got even a back page mention in USA news I read or watched. He accused Putin of using oil as a weapon and for manipulation toward his own ends. Cheney's speech was arrogant, tactless, hypocritical, righteous, insensitive, bossy and very offensive to the Russians. As I was leaving Moscow a couple months ago I read in the Moscow Times that the Russian Duma voted to fine any member who spoke the word "dollar" when they could use "Ruble". Russia has 15% of the world's known oil and gas reserves. Just last month Russia invited bids for the development of one of the large fields. They didn't invite one American oil company to bid. This has very long term significance. Push against another human and they instinctively push back. Force produces resistance.
In the last 12 months the Ruble (a non-convertible and basically worthless currency for 74 years) appreciated 6% against the dollar. Russia's current stated intention is to soon sell their oil for Rubles, not dollars. Do you realize what the consequences of this can be? The dollar has been the international reserve currency, the medium of exchange for almost all of the world's commercial transactions. Because of this administrations misplaced priorities as well as foreign policy and financial ineptitude we are now witnessing the beginning of the end of the dollar as the world's reserve currency. We are now beginning to see evidence of the selling of dollars. This will cause: Great difficulty in financing our huge national debt. Rapidly rising interest rates in order to attract buyers for our debt. A potential crash in the housing market, stock market and consumer spending (75% of out GDP). The potential damage to our way of life is large. This could have easily been avoided had we befriended, cooperated with, partnered with Russia (and others) during their difficult 10 years after communism fell, rather than treated them as inferior and as a potential adversary. Rather than going for dominance in "The new American Century".
For an extended period after the Fall of the Berlin Wall, and communism in the Soviet Union, there was a wide window of opportunity to partner with and cooperate with Russia (and former communistic countries). The Russian people like Americans and wanted much of what we have and who we are. We could be very complimentary and synergist allies, each adding to the other. Together we could be an irresistible force for peace and goodwill. It looks to me like this window of opportunity is fast closing, if in fact it hasn't already closed. Instead of taking advantage of this opportunity, the bush group continues with the adversarial cold-war mentality. The result will be, and is, another adversary, more suffering, more conflict and battling, more lack...
I have a demonstration I've done probably 400 times in seminars I conduct over the years. I approach a person, holding my hand up, and ask them to "Put your hand against mine." They do and I then put my hand against theirs and then push. They push back. I then bring their awareness to the fact that I didn't say, "Push". I only said, "Put your hand against mine." So far 100% of the people I've done this with (in probably 25 countries) have pushed back. Even marshal arts masters (who teach no resistance, and to flow with the energy) push back. This tells me that there is something in human nature that pushes back when they experience being pushed against. This explains simply and clearly the folly of our invasion of Iraq (as well as refusing to talk with the "evil" ones). This simple demonstration has gone farther toward convincing those who support war of the folly of that approach than any well reasoned logic or discourse I've ever been able to come up with.
86% of Americans don't have a passport and thus don't have any awareness of how we fit into the global family, nor that we're not the respected leader any longer (I was told that Bush was one of that 86% before being elected. If true that wouldn't surprise me). Travel around the world these days and it's easy to see that other countries are accelerating past us. Just look at the development. It's astounding. In Eastern China, in Kazakhstan (yes Kazakhstan), Malaysia, Singapore, India... It's astounding. Instant modern cities are sprouting up. We think of Orange County and Las Vegas as evidence of booming development. The change in those areas is remarkable to any of us who remember what it was 40 or more years ago. What happened there has happened in less than 8 years in some of these other countries. We are being passed by and left behind.
It's time to take care of ourselves and invest in the USA rather than tell others how to run their countries. It's time to take even a small percentage of the huge amount of military spending and channel it toward solutions to the many local problems we have--education, health care, poverty and human rights abuses (exposed by Katerina), alternative energy research and development, space, political campaign (and government) reform... And as some of us left over hippies used to say, "Make love, not war."
Yes there is something wrong with the man. Bush misrepresents terribly who we are. Have you read "Bush on the Couch" by Justin A. Frank? He's a well known and respected Washington DC psychiatrist who took a year away from his practice to research and psychoanalyze Bush and to write a book about him. It's an alarming diagnosis. He basically said that W is a non-recovered alcoholic who has unresolved parent issues and if Bush were his client he would consider institutionalizing him.
I've never been political in my life. Until this administration. They are contrary to what I've devoted 30+ years of my life working toward. I have children and a grandchild who inherit the conditions we leave them. Americans are asleep, I believe because these problems haven't touched them personally. It's time for a wake up call, hopefully before the alarm is so loud that it's deafening. I've lately been doing things I have never done before--like marching in peace marches. Like writing and calling my senators and congresspeople. Like joining get-out-the-vote calling campaigns. Like writing long emails like this one : )
I guess I couldn't resist answering your questions. I'll get of my soapbox now... : )