Thursday, June 23, 2005

Presidential Influence

The President of the United States has tremendous influence around the world. Perhaps the most important use of this influence is to give hope to oppressed people most in need of it.

Jeff Jacoby, writing in the Boston Globe, considered the way President Bush uses this influence. He quotes the comments a reader in Moscow sent to National Review. The reader sent a photo from a rally in Azerbaijan

...which showed a youth holding up a poster of President Bush with the words, 'We Want Freedom.' The reader commented, 'It's good to remember whom people turn to when they're desperate -- and it ain't Kofi Annan.' "

Jacoby made many telling points:

It is fashionable in some circles to invoke the United Nations as the touchstone of moral authority, but realists know better. They look to the United States, not the UN, as the great moral engine in world affairs. ...

In his recent bestseller, ''The Case for Democracy," former Soviet refusenik Natan Sharansky recalled how Ronald Reagan's ''evil empire" speech electrified prisoners deep inside the Soviet gulag:

''Tapping on walls and talking through toilets, word of Reagan's 'provocation' quickly spread through the prison. The dissidents were ecstatic. Finally, the leader of the free world had spoken the truth -- a truth that burned inside the heart of each and every one of us."

A US president's words of solidarity can powerfully encourage those who battle against the lies and intimidation of despotism. ...

Compared to the policies of his predecessors, Bush's promotion of democracy as a matter of national security, his blunt talk about dictatorships, and the honor he shows dissidents are revolutionary. ...

Every president speaks of freedom and democracy. Bush is the first to make their promotion the cornerstone of his foreign policy. His critics are legion. But from the slave camps of North Korea to that young man in Azerbaijan, so are those fervently hoping he succeeds.

I disagree with President Bush on many policy issues. However, I give him a lot of credit in important areas, to include his determination to promote core American values of freedom, democracy, individual liberty, and hope throughout the world. Imagine how much more he could accomplish without the negative influences of anti-American political elites abroad, obstructionists in the U.S. Congress, and the constant drumbeat of opposition from myopic leftist ideologues.


Blogger Kevin said...


My take is that the belief in a core set of American values is our most important export around the world. It is a shame that our schools are watering down those ideals.

It is shown that when the message of the US is communicated clearly, by all, it is powerful and can change the world. It is hard to get through the noise now days, but we are winning slowly.

Communicating the message is important to winning this 4th generation war that we are fighting. Communication is as important as bullets and equipment.

Every box should have "Courtesy of the USA" stamped on it. It ain't sexy, but it works.


6:05 AM, June 23, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Kev, by U.S. law, foreign aid commodities and certain other items are required to indicate U.S. origin, show the USAID logo, etc. That's generally adhered to.

6:38 AM, June 23, 2005  
Blogger Voice 1 said...

Perhaps if the Bush regime wants to help oppressed people, they could stop supporting brutal regimes like those in Uzbekistan, Egypt and so on. Did you know for example that Egypt receives the 2nd highest amount of military aid from the US after Israel?

2:45 PM, June 23, 2005  
Blogger Gindy said...

"Kev, by U.S. law, foreign aid commodities and certain other items are required to indicate U.S. origin, show the USAID logo, etc. That's generally adhered to."

Unless it is going through the UN (I think).

3:23 PM, June 23, 2005  
Blogger Esther said...

GREAT post, Tom. Loved it! And kev, great comment! Voice1 -- want to know why Egypt gets so much aid? We pay them not to attack Israel. Pathetic, eh? Sigh...

6:43 PM, June 23, 2005  
Blogger sygamel said...

At the risk of voice 1 thinking all these non-liberals are ignoring more important comment, yes it is very difficult to jive the American desire for freedom from tyranny and our support for such ugly regimes. However, Democrats and Republican Presidents alike have financially supported Egypt for nearly 30 years as a very high price for temporary peace and the spread of freedom in the Middle East. This however does not diminish the sorts of uplifting words many of our Presidents have made to give hope to many living in oppression.

8:59 PM, June 23, 2005  
Blogger sygamel said...

that should read "the very high price for temporary peace and the curtailment of freedom..."

9:01 PM, June 23, 2005  
Blogger sygamel said...

It wasn't implied in my statement but I consider myself a non-liberal on many issues as well.

10:28 AM, June 24, 2005  
Anonymous The Bastard said...

Ummm, I would agree except I don't see us sending troops into Darfur or anywhere else you see genocide. In those instances we refer it to the UN. Why? Maybe because it isn't really that important to this administration to value "every" human life and not just the ones with oil or deep pockets.

11:22 AM, June 24, 2005  
Blogger sygamel said...

No party is interested in going inot Darfur, (not just the President) and I don't understand that one bit. Where inaction exists in Congress, the President should take the initiative to push for intervention in Darfur.

11:24 AM, June 24, 2005  
Blogger Carson Day said...

The U.S. is not now, and never has been, a democracy. It was founded by a group of fairly intelligent aristocrats as a constitutional republic.

The fact that almost nobody seems to remember this fact is a testimony to the power of brainwashing media and the failure of the public school system.

Most of the founding fathers of America hated democracy. Madison wrote in the Federalist papers against it with "passion."

By and large, they followed Plato and Aristotle, who held that Democracy was either the absolute worst form of gov't, or very close to it. Remember, Athenian democracy had got Plato's teacher -- Socrates -- killed. Apparently, this educational point was not lost on Plato, who never forgot what most Americans have never learned.

7:02 PM, June 24, 2005  
Blogger Anastasia said...

I don't think there is a 'real' democracy anywhere. To think otherwise is naive because people are by and large imperfect. That being said, people can only try to get as close as they can to achieve it. Democracy is a concept, like all other concepts (it has other entwining concepts) and it depends on team effort to function.

The Patriot Act (for example), isn't considered democratic by some outside nations and some people, but in regard to what's currently happening in the world it serves a purpose and is the best option at the moment, even though it's assumed that it invades personal privacy, which I don't understand, because a government doesn't need to legislate an 'act' in order to gather information about its citizens.

I think the reason why presidential influence is high also depends on a nation's prosperity. You'll get how many other nations/people (outside of the US) whining or bitching about the US (it's then current administration, policies etc) but these people/nations are well aware of the prosperity or opportunity the nation provides. There have been times I've wanted to ask my parents (but I can't, it's not possible at this point) why they opted for Australia over the United States in terms of migration and why their families/siblings opted to migrate to Australia first, when they could have gone the opposite way.

10:36 PM, June 24, 2005  
Blogger John Walter said...

America started out as a constitutional republic, but evolved into a representative democracy during the 1820's when the majority of states removed property requirements from their voting laws. It is not a pure democracy. A pure democracy existed only once in world history, during the Golden Age of Athens; and it quickly became dominated by demagogues who brought Athens to ruin in the Pelopenisian Wars.

Athenian democracy had already collapsed, I believe, when Socraties was forced to drink hemlock.

America has the best balance I think anyone will ever see between individual liberty and collective security.

1:44 PM, June 25, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's Christmas Day, 2005, and the would-be monarch, George W. Bush, still sits in the White House, spying on his subjects, entertaining notions of being the most powerful man in the world. He has an addiction, and its called Power.

7:57 AM, December 25, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Richard, I think you overstate the case a bit. The whole controversy about domestic surveillance is way overblown. It's funny how this works--if there's another attack, you'll criticize him for not doing enough to protect us. When he does things to protect us, however, you criticize him for doing it. Personally, I prefer to be better protected, and the criticism of Bush has become predictable and, frankly, boring.

Aside from that, how's tricks?

12:51 PM, December 25, 2005  

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