What I’ve been saying all along. I bet it also has something to do with killing more than 23,000 terrorists who went to try and screw up Iraq – terrorists who would otherwise have been blowing up cities around the world (that means where YOU and ME live) ala Bali, London Underground, Madrid etc.
Read the facts, look at the world, and admit that people in general still like the US of A… Not in spite of Iraq, but BECAUSE of Iraq!
Excerpts from The Australian:
Esteem for US rises in Asia
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.
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.
First, Green states and acknowledges the negatives. He writes: “The Iraq war has had one important, pernicious impact on US interests in Asia: it has consumed US attention.”
This has prevented the US from following up in sufficient detail on some positive developments in Asia. Green also acknowledges that the US’s reputation has taken a battering among Muslim populations in Asia.
Yet Green’s positive thesis is fascinating. 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.
More generally, it is American values, or more accurately the universal values of democracy to which the US adheres, that are more popular and receive greater adherence in Asia than before, in the politics and civil societies of Asian nations such as Indonesia, India, Japan and many others.
The overall picture is infinitely more complex than the anti-Bush narrative of the Iraq war would suggest.
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.
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.
Green cautions that a US failure in Iraq, a retreat and leaving chaos in Iraq behind, would gravely damage US credibility in Asia.
The world works as well as it does–and, granted, that’s pretty marginal–in large part because the United States guarantees the security of its allies. Places like Taiwan and South Korea churn out magic toilets and miniature automobiles knowing that the United States will respond to incursions and aggression with overwhelming and sustained force. So far, our defense of the fledgling Iraqi government has confirmed that arrangement.
America does what it says. If you have an American security guarantee–and I’m looking at you,Saudi Arabia and Pakistan–you don’t need to build a nuclear arsenal. America honors its commitments, and the world keeps ticking–well, arrhythmically stuttering, anyhow–because there are big U.S. guns ready to retaliate against aggression. No better friend. No worse enemy. If America is backing you, you’re golden.
See also my very relevant posts on the issue of Iraq:
Hey Ignorant World – There is PEACE in Iraq! (photo proof below)