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Bush Foreign Policy Alienates Friends & Enemies

Between the Lines Q&A
A weekly column featuring progressive viewpoints
on national and international issues
under-reported in mainstream media
for release April 4, 2005

Bush Foreign Policy Continues to Alienate Friends and Enemies Around the World

Interview with Stephen Damours, author of "America The Almighty: The Maverick Superpower," conducted by Scott Harris

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A new poll published on March 28 found that far fewer Australians had a positive view of the United States as compared to other nations and groups such as China, France and the United Nations. Alarmingly, Australians -- a people who have long been staunch allies of the U.S. -- were evenly divided on whether American foreign policy or Islamic fundamentalism presented a greater threat to the world today.

Last year, a survey conducted in European and Arab nations by the Pew Global Attitudes Project found increasing hostility toward America and its foreign policy. The public opinion poll revealed that since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, anger at America had intensified among the people of France, Germany and Britain. In Muslim countries, resentment against the U.S. was found to be pervasive. Critics maintain that antipathy toward the U.S. in much of the world illustrates the damage done to America's standing by President Bush's unilateral and militaristic foreign policy since the September 11th terrorist attacks.

With President Bush's appointment of John Bolton to become the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations despite his long record of hostility toward the world body, concern is growing about the direction of America's foreign policy in the president's second term. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Stephen Damours, a former officer with the U.S. State Department and author of the book, "America The Almighty: The Maverick Hyperpower." Damours assesses the global repercussions of the Bush administration's neo-conservative driven foreign policy.

Stephen Damours: I think that basically the worldview of the neo-conservatives who were in control of the Pentagon -- with people like Donald Rumsfeld and Douglas Feith being at the top or very close to the top of the Pentagon -- the view was that the world needs stability and the best way to achieve stability is by an American empire and an empire basically not of American cooperation, (but) leadership of American dominance, by force if necessary, using our overwhelming military power as a source of our power.

Basically, the theory behind that is that we ought to be spreading democracy and free market capitalism all over the world and that those forces would eventually create a more stable and benign world. Of course, the contradiction there, and the reason that the theory doesn't work is that the coercive use of military force contradicts human freedom and contradicts the fundamental values behind democracy and of course contradicts American values. We don't believe in being bullies, we believe in cooperation -- I'm talking about the American people now.

So basically, an American empire enforced by military dominance in, you know, promoting democracy is a self-contradictory concept. But that's where the neo-conservatives are coming from who basically call the shots, including the literal shots of the Iraq war over the last four or five years.

Between The Lines: How has the United States specifically countered the drive around the world to codify international law, universal law, that would apply to all countries and codify in essence some basic human rights.

Stephen Damours: Well, it's really a wonderful thing when you look at it, that the other democracies of the world -- and even a great many countries that are not democracies, have strongly supported two major human rights treaties, treaties on the rights of women and the rights of children. Both of those treaties President Carter and other presidents had supported …, but the Senate refused to ratify them.

The major treaty on justice, the treaty on the International Criminal Court, basically Bill Clinton signed that on one of his very last days in office, but since then (George W.) Bush has unsigned it, has reversed his signature.

In the really important matter of sustainable prosperity throughout the world, the Kyoto protocols on global warming, the United States has under Bush aggressively rejected that, while other countries have pretty much embraced it, not by any means all of them, but the treaty is now in effect.

A whole raft of arms control treaties: The Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty, the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, the Chemical and Biological Weapons treaties - these are treaties that you want to have in place to control weapons of mass destruction. And you'd think that you would certainly want to have them in place in the context of the war on terrorism, and yet we've weakened, undermined or completely pulled out of those treaties.

So, across the board, we've opposed international law on matters of principle and we're now the most feared and disliked nation in the world in many ways, rather than the most admired nation as we were before.

Between The Lines: Stephen Damours, to sum up, what price has the U.S. paid for its militaristic and unilateral foreign policy in the wake of the September 11th attacks on this country, and how can U.S. citizens work to change and re-direct our government's policy toward the rest of the world?

Stephen Damours: I think the price has been a tremendous loss of moral authority and political support for the United States. Basically, even in countries where the government supports us, as in England and formerly in Spain and Japan, the people of those countries don't support us. They're hostile to us because of the Iraq war. We've intensified anti-American feeling in the Middle East and we've created brand new anti-American feeling among the people of our democratic allies.

We're paying a very high price. Cooperation across the board has been drastically curtailed and everything we try to do is more difficult to do in a cooperative way with the rest of the world.

As far as what American citizens can do, about all we can do is organize to put pressure in a new direction. We can vote in the House and the Senate for candidates who are supportive of a benign and multilateral policy -- a policy of cooperation with the U.N. and international institutions. And we can press for those things in terms of joining and participating in organizations that support those things.

I'm a member of Citizens for Global Solutions and also a member of the United Nations Association. There are a number of other organizations out there as well that work hard on basically creating a more benign foreign policy.

An example right now is John Bolton's nomination to be our ambassador to the United Nations. He hates the United Nations with a purple passion and will do anything he can to destroy it. So these organizations are working against Bolton's nomination and trying to get him not approved by the Senate. That's the kind of thing that the American public can do. We can join in and write to our senators and say, "Hey, we don't need hostile, bellicose people like Bolton as our ambassador to the U.N."

We need to be saying to our Democratic senators and representatives, "Hey, get some backbone, stand up to this stuff. It's damaging our standing in the world and costing us an awful lot and it's promoting war rather than peace, it's not what we want." We need to tell our representatives that we want a different policy.

For more information, visit Damour's website at


Scott Harris is executive producer of Between The Lines, which can be heard on more than 35 radio stations and in RealAudio and MP3 on our website at This interview excerpt was featured on the award-winning, syndicated weekly radio newsmagazine, Between The Lines for the week ending April 8, 2005. This Between The Lines Q&A was compiled by Scott Harris and Anna Manzo.


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