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Wednesday, May 19, 2004

What Goodwill?

A common theme from the Bush hating portion of the populous is that under Bush we've squandered goodwill (here, for example) or that Bush's actions have damaged our reputation. The actions that have alledgedly caused the squandering or reputation reduction are always listed (e.g., invading Iraq, not ratifying Kyoto, etc.), but never the mechanism, nor the evidence that our reputation was particularly high in the first place, nor any evidence that our reputation is lower now. For example, I've never seen a worldwide poll conducted that shows that a significant majority of the six billion people on this planet have significantly less respect for a majority of American attributes today than they did, say, five years ago.

But I also never paid it much attention since the goodwill or reputation thing seemed to be a touchy feely sort of thing that didn't have much intrinsic value. In other words, all other things being equal, I'd just as soon people around the globe feel goodwill towards us, but if they don't, so be it.

But Jim recently wrote:
The U.S.'s reputation in the world is perhaps the lowest it has ever been, seriously inhibiting our ability to lead anything globally.
So now I have something more concrete beyond the touchy feely realm. Our reputation is low, and, as a result, it's inhibiting our ability to lead. Now I'm curious. What sorts of things are we now unable to accomplish (that we want to accomplish) because we can't lead because our reputation is lower than it was that we would have been able to accomplish five years ago when our reputation was higher? Things that we can still accomplish but at a higher cost because of the lowered reputation also count.

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