I don't know about you, fellow Americans, but I'm starting to feel the eyes of the world boring holes into the back of my head. Once the pillar of democratic ideals, it seems the US is now the pillar of a shoot-first-ask-questions-later foreign policy.
What am I talking about?
The BBC conducted a poll of 26,000 people in 25 separate countries. In the 18 countries that were polled a year ago, the percentage of residents that thought the US has a positive impact in the world declined by 7 points to a paltry 29%. Over 65% of all respondants felt that US presence in the middle east CREATES more conflict than it prevents and only 17% think the US military is a stabilizing force in the region. Some of the biggest drops in many of the areas probed came from countries that normally would support us.
Global warming, Guantanamo detainees, Israel conflict...the report goes on, but it's all negative. People in the world are down on the free and the brave. If the French could take back the Statue of Liberty, they probably would. But I can hear you asking, "Why should we care?"
The answer: our brand.
For those of us who've lived and worked outside the US, we understand how a county's brand perception can have a direct impact on our well-being. Rightly or wrongly, how you are regarded within a foreign society is partly related to how your country is regarded throughout the world (particularly if you're not fluent in the language).
But the deterioration of brand America has much broader implications from an economic standpoint. A country's brand perception often influences the sale of their goods. It can play a subtle, but very real role in whether US companies get contracts in other countries - or even the proper licenses and certifications to conduct business. It can play into negotiations. Bad brand perception can be detrimental to America's standing in business communities within these other countries. It can influence whether foreign companies enter into partnerships with American companies. Our country's continued prosperity is partly tied to the health of our national brand.
Perhaps an important questions we should be asking ourselves is this: "Is the way that we're conducting this war on terror and other policies counterproductive to the wider agenda of the nation?" I'm not saying our goals are wrong. I'm not saying we should back down. But perhaps the tough-guy cowboy screw-you-all politics of the White House, is a style that is doing far more harm than good.
But what do you think?