Would you rather be respected or loved? Posted by: McQ
on Sunday, April 27, 2008
Of course it depends on the situation, but for the most part I'd guess "respected" would be chosen over "loved".
One of the more consistent complaints by some in the US is we're not loved in the world anymore. Some go as far as to claim we're hated.
But according to the Australian, if Asia is any indication, America's esteem is rising - and much of that has to do with Iraq:
THE US war in Iraq has strengthened its strategic position, especially in terms of key alliances, and the only way this could be reversed would be if it lost the will to continue the struggle and abandoned Iraq in defeat and disarray.
Surely the author of this sentence is on the ganja, you might say. Something a little weird in the coffee? It goes against every aspect of conventional wisdom.
But the author of this thesis, stated only marginally less boldly, is one of the US's most brilliant strategic analysts. Mike Green holds the Japan chair at Washington's Centre for Strategic and International Studies and was for several years the Asia director at the National Security Council. He is also one of America's foremost experts on Japan and northeast Asia generally.
His thesis, applied strictly to the US position in Asia, is correct.
Greg Sheridan points out that Green acknowledges the negative impact of Iraq in Asia (it has consumed the US's attention and the US has taken a battering among Asian muslim populations) but then lists the far more positive developments it has brought in terms of alliance:
The US's three most important Asian alliances - with Australia, Japan and South Korea - have in his view been strengthened by the Iraq campaign. Each of these nations sent substantial numbers of troops to help the US in Iraq. They did this because they believed in what the US was doing in Iraq, and also because they wanted to use the Iraq campaign as an opportunity to strengthen their alliances with the US.
More generally, in a world supposedly awash in anti-US sentiment, pro-American leaders keep winning elections. Germany's Angela Merkel is certainly more pro-American than Gerhard Schroeder, whom she replaced. The same is true of France's Nicolas Sarkozy.
More importantly in terms of Green's analysis, the same is also true of South Korea's new President. Lee Myung-bak, elected in a landslide in December, is vastly more pro-American than his predecessor, Roh Moo-hyun.
Even in majority Islamic societies, their populations allegedly radicalised and polarised by Bush's campaign in Iraq and the global war on terror more generally, election results don't show any evidence of these trends. In the most recent local elections in Indonesia, and in national elections in Pakistan, the Islamist parties with anti-American rhetoric fared very poorly. Similarly Kevin Rudd was elected as a very pro-American Labor leader, unlike Mark Latham, with his traces of anti-Americanism, who was heavily defeated.
Even with China, the Iraq campaign was not a serious negative for the US. Beijing was far more worried by the earlier US-led NATO intervention into Kosovo because it was based purely on notions of human rights in Kosovo. Such notions could theoretically be used to justify action (not necessarily military action) against China over Taiwan and Tibet. Iraq, on the other hand, was justified on the basis of weapons of mass destruction, a justification with which the Chinese were much more comfortable.
Green also finds the narrative that claims that the US is universally hated because of Iraq to be unsupported in Asia:
Green drills down into a lot of public opinion figures and finds even there a big recovery for the US in Asian public opinion in recent years. Public opinion polling on foreign policy is always problematic because the question can so easily shape the response. But the Iraq invasion was unpopular in Japan and seemed to lead, paradoxically, both to a decline in Japanese public faith in US judgment and an increase in Japanese public faith in the US alliance, perhaps because it showed the US would back its commitments with actions.
Similarly, it seems clear that US standing in Japan declined most recently when it softened its position on North Korea, something international liberal opinion universally demanded. However, some other facts are incontrovertible. Japan in 2003 sent 600 troops to Iraq to help the Americans. The Japanese leader who did this, Junichiro Koizumi, was subsequently re-elected in a landslide.
South Korea is even more instructive. Some of the strategic dinosaurs at the Australian National University write as if the US-South Korea alliance is finished and that the day is both inevitable and soon when China will be the dominant power in South Korea. This was always a silly bit of analysis that had a brief vogue six or seven years ago. To hold it now, it is necessary that you never look at what is actually happening in South Korea.
The US's standing there seems to bear very little relation to Iraq. However, as noted, a pro-US candidate won a record landslide in December. But even the previous president, who did deploy some anti-American rhetoric, sent 3600 troops to Iraq (more than any nation except the US and Britain) and negotiated a free trade agreement with the US. Moreover, as Green describes, there has been a big rise in the positive ratings of the US in South Korea since 2005.
The centrist Joong AngIlbo newspaper's poll shows the US rising from being the third most popular foreign country in South Korea to becoming, by 2006, the most popular foreign country.
However, again pointing out that this analysis is about the Asian sphere, and Green is making no claims about elsewhere (although his points about Merkel and Sarkozy indicate it may hold true in other areas), there is a way the US can lose the respect and popularity it now enjoys in Asia:
Green cautions that a US failure in Iraq, a retreat and leaving chaos in Iraq behind, would gravely damage US credibility in Asia.
See your Democratic nominees for tickets to that particular ride.
Even in majority Islamic societies, their populations allegedly radicalised and polarised by Bush’s campaign in Iraq and the global war on terror more generally, election results don’t show any evidence of these trends.
I have never subscribed to the idea pushed by our more strident anti-war commenters that our Iraq efforts feed anti-American feeling and thus more terrorism. Arab cultures in particular respect strength. Showing strength is typically not a way to lose respect with them. Showing weakness earns their contempt. Abandoning Iraq would be the most powerful way of showing weakness we could find right now.
A noted European political thinker postulated it was better to be feared than loved. I can’t remember if we are supposed to follow the Euros on that one or not, though. Best to ask France first.
I suspect there are also a lot of silver linings to Iraq, like re-assuring our allies that we could fight a longish war. Or reminding those that think we are a paper tiger easily defeated in the media alone that they should think again. It may also be useful to disabuse the Europeans of any notion that they can shame our electorate in some way.
My personal favorite (as it always was a pet peeve) is that the Brits might realize they are not better at COIN than we are. Maybe they can start wearing sunglasses on patrol again. (or did we follow them on that one?)
Men are less hesitant about harming someone who makes himself loved than one who makes himself feared because love is held together by a chain of obligation which, since men are wretched creatures, is broken on every occasion in which their own interests are concerned; but fear is sustained by dread of punishment which will never abandon you