Monday, May 21, 2007

Jimmy Carter Is Wrong: Bush Popular Worldwide

by Doug Wead
Monday, May 21, 2007

Presidential historian Doug Wead returns from an around-the-world trip and finds to his surprise that U.S. President George W. Bush is more popular worldwide than the United States is led to believe.

Wead shares his thoughts on this most recent trip and his insights on comments made by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter about the public relations image of Bush and the United States among foreign nations.
You have just returned from your third round-the-world trip in 10 months and you say that George W. Bush is actually more popular worldwide than the public perception.
Yes, George W. Bush and his whole family are very respected, even popular, with the man on the street in China. It is a country he visited as a teenager and a country that respects both he and his father. China is the largest nation on earth, population 1.3 billion.

India is the second most populous nation on earth, with 1 billion, and George W. Bush may be the most popular American president ever in that country. I have made many visits to India over the years and written a book about it. His respect among the majority Hindu population runs very deep. They see him as the first Western leader to understand the threat of militant Islam.

This administration is widely respected in Eastern Europe, very popular in Poland, for example, and Slovenia. I just came back from Saratov, Russia, my third trip in a year to that country, Bush is respected by Russians everywhere who see him as a gutsy guy, a leader, and they like that.
And yet Jimmy Carter describes this administration as the worse ever for public relations around the world.
[On May 19, 2007, Carter told the Arkansas-Democrat Gazette, "I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history."]

Well, there is that perception, but it isn't technically true. I have nothing against President Carter, I have met with him on numerous occasions and always respected him, but in this case his criticism plays to a widely held perception in America and Western Europe that is not accurate.
So why does the idea persist that Bush is so hated? Is this a Western European thing?
Yes, his unpopularity in Western Europe is wider and deeper than it may have ever been there. If Carter were talking only about Europe he may have been right. When I give a speech in Sweden and mention his name the audience will snicker.

And then part of the perception comes because he is unpopular with some pockets that have been traditionally pro-American. Gaullists in France, for example, or whites in South Africa. There is a shifting of sympathies and attitudes taking place and it is very complex, different for each country.
I suppose it is primarily dictated by the war with militant Islam.
That's a big part. But even that is far more complicated than it appears. For example last November, Indonesia, the fourth largest nation on earth and the largest Muslim nation in the world, offered to send peace keeping troops to Iraq, to take a stand against terrorism.
Some see Sarkozy's election in France as an example of latent pro Americanism.
Sarkozy's election was not a referendum on America, nor was it a rejection of a woman candidate, as some are saying here. Actually, Segolene Royal was a remarkable candidate. Rather, this election was a rethinking of French immigration policy, which some people in France see as creating an Islamic state within a state.

Remember, in the 1960s France had its own war with Islam over Algeria. They had bombs going off in Paris for a decade, with people blown out of department store windows and they learned the lesson that you cannot win a war with a religion. It is part of why they didn't help us in Iraq.

The Sarkozy election was an internal French recalibration, it wasn't about us.
How unprecedented is it for a former U.S. president to attack an administration in war?
I know that some historians are saying it is unprecedented. All I can say is that they are poor historians.

Theodore Roosevelt criticized Woodrow Wilson during World War I.

Buchanan, Tyler, and Fillmore criticized Lincoln during the Civil War (Tyler during the period leading up to the war.)

Adams criticized Madison during the War of 1812.

It is not unprecedented but then, keep this in mind, in 1979 Jimmy Carter abandoned the Shah of Iran, who was pro-American and had the backing of the three most powerful generals in that country, and the whole slide into Islamic militancy began. It has now spread around the world and we face a virulent Iran, a potential nuclear power that threatens the region and the world.

Doug Wead is a New York Times best-selling author and presidential historian who has interviewed 10 first ladies and presidents. Among his 30 books is "The Iran Crisis," which details the rise of Islamic militancy.

Reprinted from
© NewsMax 2007. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

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