Arthur Chrenkoff sent us a link to his excellent discussion of how European governments are likely to react to President Bush’s re-election:
What are the foreign policy implications of the election in terms of America’s relations with the rest of the world? I wrote yesterday that “holding your breath and turning blue for the next four years is no longer a viable option” for foreign governments, and therefore we are likely to see a thaw of sorts between those from Mars and those from Venus.
Chrenkoff points out various statements of European leaders suggesting that the thaw is aleady underway. He continues:
For the past few years, the “international community” has built its policy vis-a-vis the United States on an assumption that Bush, that uncomfortable aberration from Texas, would be a one-termer. Walled in inside their own echo chamber, reinforced and amplified by the American mainstream media’s anti-Bush stance, foreign governments have managed to convince themselves that no incumbent could survive electoraly the “quagmire” of Iraq abroad and the groundswell of opposition at home. In other words, the leaders from Caracas to Paris, and from Cairo to Kuala Lumpur, made the assumption that since they wouldn’t vote for Bush, and the “New York Times” wouldn’t vote for Bush, the American people wouldn’t either – that is, for all the sophisticates’ sneering about America and the Americans, the “unwilling” governments around the world thought that in the end the US voters would behave as “rationally” as the Belgians or the Jordanians would in these circumstances.
Whatever we might think of foreign leaders and their ideological preferences, these people also tend to be realists. Now the uncertainty is over and it’s time for plan B. Another few years of Cold War is not a productive option for anyone. The governments around the world are realizing, to use Lyndon B Johnson’s favorite formulation, that it’s better to be inside the tent pissing out than the other way around. As a mate of mine likes to say, even piss kills if from a a great enough height, but as the international community has discovered it’s difficult enough to achieve the necessary deadly height if you’re planning to urinate on a hegemon and a hyper-power.
The United States throughout the crisis of the last few years has generally tried to maintain good relations with everyone, including its many foreign detractors. I have a feeling that the second Bush term will see an even greater effort to reach out to international critics and skeptics – not to dilute the current policies of the Administration, but more on a symbolic level to help the Frances and Germanys of this world save some face.
So, one big happy multilateral family again? Non. But a detente, perhaps? Oui.