Commentary Magazine


“Global Attitudes” Are Irrelevant

The campaign issue whose importance is most blown out of proportion must certainly be global attitudes toward the United States. Nothing concerns liberal journalists, think-tankers, academics, upper-middle class voters–in other words, vital constituencies of the Democratic Party–more than the thought that the French or the Saudis or “the global community” doesn’t love us like they once (mythically) used to. Indeed, just last week a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee issued an entire report and held a hearing on the topic, “The Decline in America’s Reputation: Why?” (For more on that event, read David Frum, who testified as a respondent).

Many liberals place great stock in the opinions of people abroad (except Iraqis), perhaps as a way to share in their deeply-felt disaffection with and alienation from the United States. Their own feelings about the Bush administration have once again been confirmed by a recently released World Public Opinion poll. This poll finds that, among “19,751 respondents in nations that comprise 60 percent of the world’s population,” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Vladimir Putin are “trusted” more than President Bush.

The Center for American Progress unironically trumpets this poll as vindication for its agenda. Yet if the world trusts Ahmadinejad and Putin more than the president of the United States, I say that’s all the more reason to stop concerning ourselves so much with “global opinion”–as well as the Americans who can’t sleep at night thinking about it.