Sunday, March 27, 2005

The U.S. image abroad

For all we know, historians will debate Ronald Reagan's role in the USSR's collapse for many years. Likewise, George W. Bush and the spread of democracy (and market-friendly governance) will be a topic of debate for some years. Either way, these two men are likely to have a place in history way beyond the fact that they were White House occupants.

Bush has his critics and among his dumbest foreign policy initiatives, in my view, is putting Karen Hughes (or anyone) in charge of a campaign to burnish America's image overseas. International elites will always object to what we stand for. So what?

An LA Times (3/27/05) op-ed re modern Isreal notes: "It is fast-paced, cutting edge, daring and more than occasionally hedonistic. It is a cosmopolitan embrace of a modern state whose citizens yearn for worldliness, travel and openness."

Similar aspirations and yearnings can be found through of much of the of the world. What most young people want is clear. It is a modern Western lifestyle (warts and all, as they say). That's the way it is and that is why the West will keep on winning.

Having Karen Hughes or Margaret Tutweiler or anyone run a White House-based PR campaign has nothing to do with any of this. Rather, it misses the main point -- and risks doing much more harm than good.