Monday, 15 November 2010

Literature Review: U.S. Image Abroad

I love the extremes: Kenya's been at 94% in 2000 and 2010, and only 1% of Jordanians had a favorable view of the U.S. in 2003

This week, I have been writing up a lit review essay for my supervisor, so my reading has been all over the place. The most recent new readings, though, have been about America's image abroad. Some of them I've liked, and some I've found a lot of fault with...Pre-9/11 books and articles have some variety in topics, while all of the post-9/11 books focus on what America can do to restore its image and credibility (mostly in the Middle East). Very little has been written since the election of Obama, but what has been all seems to point to the same conclusion: the election of Obama restored America's image more than anything else could have done. The question of "why do they hate us?" has been criticised throughout the literature as too simplistic and largely misguided. People around the world didn't hate America--they hated American policies, i.e. waging war in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention our unconditional support of Israel, lack of cooperation on Kyoto's environmental efforts, and questionable trading practices. The election of Barack Obama was seen as a "clean slate" for America's image abroad. Hope and change was not just a campaign slogan for America, it was a promise to the world that Obama would bring hope and change as "leader of the free world."

That said, I haven't found much written since his inauguration...How has America's global reputation fared over the past couple of years? What more can be done to improve it?
--Close Guantanamo (suggestion from a guy at a party, who had been very pleased to see Obama's day 1 executive order to close it, and very disappointed to see that it hadn't been done yet. I found myself struggling to explain why it hadn't happened yet. I'm a staunch defender of this President, but even I couldn't think of an excuse...)
--End Iraq War (50,000 troops remain after the official end of combat missions? Seriously?)
--Get Wall Street sorted. They blame America for the economic collapse, and they'll keep resenting that until they see real efforts to repair that broken system...

On the positive side, they liked the health care bill, and seemed to appreciate its significance more than most Americans did...

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