Diigo Links

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

I just voted - and even though I only have one vote, my office (in a large corporation in Syndey, Australia - read: conservative establishment within a strongly allied country to the US) was unanimously in support of my vote against George W.. There's a commonly agreed mandate in Australia (72% polled against Bush), which is a powerful statement coming from a country that just re-elected their conservative "Liberal Party" leader, John Howard, as Prime Minister.

That's not to say that Australians are in any way anti-American. There's a strong show of support for the US, the war on terrorism, and even the war in Iraq. The tipping point is Bush himself.

Many Americans don't see the importance of polls about their President outside the US. I often hear Americans saying something to the effect of "what do we care what they think, it's our election, our President, keep your hands off, and shut your mouths". To those Americans I'll suggest they further familiarize themselves with the responsibilities of the Executive branch of the US government, and with the concept of diplomacy.

The Executive branch has within its portfolio the broad charge that is "foriegn relations". Effectively representing the US's interests abroad requires that the US President have a certain political currency with the people of other nations. This is particularly true when the US is dealing with other democratic nations.

In order for a US President to forward American goals internationally the PotUS should also be able to offer international leaders an incentive to ally themselves (and their country) with the US. This incentive, in democratic countries, comes in the form of votes.

In a country like Australia (a very close ally to the US), the relationship John Howard has with the PotUS should be a "vote getter". I think the polls clearly show that this isn't presently true. Luckily for John Howard, other factors played more prominently in this election. The established relationship Australia has with the US allowed John Howard to portray his affair with George Bush as advancing an already strong relationship. Had the dislike of George Bush not been so previlant, I expect we would have seen an even stronger swing towards the right in the last election. (and if Australia had the ability to vote explicitly for their Prime Minister I bet we would have seen a different result - Labor should seize on that idea and revive the republic debate..., but what do I know...)

But the US shouldn't be sitting on the laurels of past relationships. The PotUS faces a time of conflict in which making new alliances is very important. In the face of internationally poor poll results, how is George Bush expected to establish new relationships with less traditional US allies ( or even maintain old ones with more unstable allies - think Turkey or an emmerging Kurdistan). If ever democratic elections are held in Pakistan (while George Bush is President) I wouldn't expect to see the current regime win.

The low troop numbers in Iraq, the low re-enlistment rate, the low recruitment rate, all speak as a critique of the poor performance of the Bush administration in prosecuting its forgeing policy (war). The US armed forces have been quite effective in winning the battles they've been presented with, but the administration has been unable to wrap that up into a tidy conclusive "win".

It's becoming more and more clear as time goes on that international involvement is needed in Iraq, if only to improve (via more boots on the ground) the patrol and protect capacity of the occupation. The US is finding itself unable to accomidate the need it has unleashed on Iraq. An effective leader would not have burned so many (very traditional and secure) bridges in such a short time.

If for no other reason than his inability to be as destructive to international relations as George Bush has been, please vote Kerry in. Vote Republican in house and senate races all you want (they are the holders of domestic policy and action). Even as dull and uninspiring as Kerry may be, he could never do as much damage in such short a time as George Bush has in the last four years. Give Kerry the hot-potato/train-wreck, that is US foriegn policy, to deal with for four years. Let Kerry and the Democrats bear the brunt of the fallout from Bush's blunders. Please lets not give this Bush another four years to further tarnish the US's good name on the world stage.

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