Foreign Policy

Reckless Foreign Policy Gives the U.S. a Bad Reputation

A significant portion of the world views the U.S. as a threat to democracy in their home countries.

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Democratic governance is in high demand, according to the 2021 edition of the annual Democracy Perception Index, a poll of more than 50,000 people in 53 nations. But it's also perceived to be threatened—by economic inequality, by suppression of free speech, by big tech companies, by unfair or corrupted elections, and by the United States of America.

44 percent of the respondents are worried the United States threatens democracy in their home countries. By contrast, 38 percent said that about China and 28 percent about Russia. The U.S. was deemed the biggest threat of the three in free and unfree nations alike. It was the top pick in Europe and Latin America, and it nearly tied with China for this dishonor in Asia. Only a few African nations were polled, not enough for a regional average, but the U.S. was the most widely selected threat there, too.

For a country that thinks of itself as the "leader of the free world," a global beacon of democracy, this is a difficult message. But it is one Washington needs to hear. U.S. foreign policy should not be dictated by global perceptions, but neither should such perceptions be ignored.

Perhaps the United States is seen as a threat to other nations' democracy because our government is often less an exemplar of liberty than a belligerent global meddler. Perhaps it's because Washington has spent the past two decades invading and occupying large swaths of the Middle East and North Africa. Perhaps it's because our leaders' diplomacy is frequently ham-fisted, hubristic, and naïve. Perhaps it's because Washington has literally overthrown democratic governments and has a unique—and risky—network of hundreds of military bases worldwide.

But why does the U.S. get the worst marks? The governments of China and Russia are far less democratic domestically than that of the United States—it's not even close. Russia has a few foreign military bases in its near abroad, ongoing intervention in Syria, and conflict with Ukraine following the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea. Moscow also inserts itself into other countries' elections, often by social media campaigns but sometimes via more direct approaches. Beijing, meanwhile, is suppressing promised freedoms in Hong Kong, perpetually threatening Taiwan's tenuous independence, supporting the brutal regime in North Korea, and committing genocide against ethnic and religious minorities (such as the Uighurs) inside its borders. So why is the United States perceived as the more serious threat?

The survey doesn't directly answer that question, but it does provide some useful hints. While many see the United States as a threat to democracy now, "more countries say the U.S. has a positive than negative impact on democracy (49 percent positive vs. 35 percent negative)." This may mean that Washington's more recent behavior, in the post-9/11 era, has been negatively received, while a longer timeline produces more positive feelings.

Another hint is the uptick in positive views of the U.S. since Joe Biden became president. "The perception of the U.S.'s global influence on democracy has increased significantly around the world since the spring of 2020," the report says, "from a net opinion of +6 to a net opinion of +14."

Biden has yet to make significant changes to most of the global engagement he inherited. By and large, the wars, sanctions, and tariffs his predecessor left behind remain intact. But he is set to preside over the end of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, has slightly scaled down U.S. cooperation with (extremely undemocratic) Saudi Arabia, and has either rejoined or began negotiations to rejoin multiple major diplomatic agreements the Trump administration jettisoned. Some of this uptick may simply be a honeymoon period for Biden and/or opposition to former President Donald Trump. Next year's data will be more instructive, but for now this positive shift suggests moving away from military interventionism and toward diplomacy—abiding by the "rules-based order" that Secretary of State Antony Blinken has spoken of enforcing on China—would improve our global reputation.

It would be better for the United States in other ways as well. The policies that have caused other nations to perceive Washington as a threat to democracy have been harmful here too, making us less prosperous, less safe, and less free. Whether or not they threaten democratic governance abroad, they threaten it here.

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  1. Sad, but not surprising. Maybe their opinions will change once we’ve left Afghanistan as a shining example of western democracy in the ‘stans. Any day now.

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    2. The thing that is completely missing from this article is the fact that the US is the only country mentioned that hangs their dirty laundry, self-criticism and political dissent out for all the world to see through the nation’s media.

      This is not insignificant, particularly in countries where the primary source of information about US policy is from the US media, where more people speak English than any other foreign language, and where they live in countries that don’t allow any substantial criticism of their own government.

      The US media, parties, and politicians are in a constant state of bitch-mode about everything. Compare that to Russia or China where the media, parties, and politicians shut their mouths except for to offer praise and the state run or at least state-sanctioned media minds its manners.

      1. That makes sense.

        Reminds me of when the Penguin was running for mayor of Gotham against Batman.

        Penguin was saying everytime he is in the news it is in the company of police officers while Batman was always in the company of criminals

      2. Yes it is insignificant. There is no country outside the US where the US media is the main source of info. Nor is the US hiding under the table. The countries where we are trying to overthrow governments – know that. The countries where we are propping up corrupt/etc governments – well the people there know that. The countries where we are bombing/droning from on high in order to not put boots on ground or hide the involvement from Americans – guess what they know that too.

  2. Didn’t read the article. But I love the appeal to emotion play in regards to foreign policy.

  3. “Biden has yet to make significant changes to most of the global engagement he inherited.”

    I guarantee Biden won’t start World War 4 in the Middle East, unlike Drumpf who started World War 3 in Iran when he assassinated that guy with a missile.

    #LibertariansForBiden

    1. I don’t know why I haven’t muted you. I guess it’s because you’re entertaining. Like I am after too many drinks.

      1. why goto the comments section and not read the comments?

        1. He’s just here to whine about how he’s victimized by, well, just everybody in the world!

        2. You have time to wade through this cesspool?!? Since I’ve muted all the Trumpian buttholes I feel less toxic and more at ease. That’s gotta be a good thing, right?

          1. Who would have guessed you were so sensitive?

          2. Wow! Good for you. My first reaction was to make fun of you. Then I realized that admitting you’re a snowflake who comes to a debate forum only to listen to his own choir is quite a step for you.

            Recovery is a process, not an event.

          3. Mute me twice please, troll.

    2. I guess I lost count. I thought N Korea was WW3, moving the US embassy to Jerusalem was WW4 and the Iranian general was WW5.

      Some day I’m gonna really screw up and nap through the poles completely melted, Bruce Willis nuking a meteorite and AOC crying outside my chain link fence. I just hope she’s naked and still has her looks, though with my luck she will have morphed into Sotomayor.

  4. >>But he is set to preside over the end of the U.S. war in Afghanistan

    lol. “preside” he’d escalate it if he knew the number to the pentagon

    1. Or if he even knew the name of his own Defense Secretary.

      1. Know his name? Of course he knows John Coffey!

        1. Jim Eagle? 🙂

  5. Of course, the picture is of a government-staged protest in Iran. I am not going to put much stock in what they think about our foreign relation policies.

    But yes, I think most libertarians would agree that it would be better to engage other countries in peaceful commerce as opposed to threats of sanctions or war.

    1. Agreed. Articles like this do little to advance any sort of responsible foreign policy.

  6. Is it just me or do articles like this sound antediluvian?

    1. Does “antediluvian” mean “fucking stupid”?

      1. At times, yes.

        This is one of those times.

  7. also like 418% of this is attributable to the deliverer of the message

  8. Democracy has been under threat in developed countries all over the world–and that’s been a huge factor in the emergence of populism we’ve seen since circa 2016. Brexit, the victories of Le Pen in France, the total defeat of Merkel in Germany, the emergence of populism in Italy, and the victory of Donald Trump were all about the explosion of populism–and in all its forms, from left to right, populism is a reaction to elitism.

    “Populism refers to a range of political stances that [emphasize] the idea of “the people” and often juxtapose this group against “the elite”.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Populism

    Populist reaction are what you get when democracy is frustrated by the efforts of elitists, in this case, and whether we’re talking about the Brits leaving the EU so they could reassert democracy rather than be subject to the dictates of EU bureaucrats, the German people revolting against Merkel for bailing out other EU members, the French and Italian peoples trying to reassert control over immigration, etc., etc., we’re talking about populists reacting against bureaucrats and politicians, who were inflicting their will on an unwilling population and making a mockery of democracy in its proper purview.

    Here in the U.S., it was the same thing. The triumph of Trump was about average American people, especially in the Midwest, trying to reassert control over issues like the Paris Climate accord, the Iranian nuclear deal, immigration, NAFTA and GATT, as well as wanting to see an unpopular program like ObamaCare undone. Even now, being contemptuous of what average Americans want is central to what it means to be a progressive. That is by no means unique to the United States’ left, and it is openly hostile to the basic precepts of democracy.

    Maybe the reason people everywhere are fearful for democracy is because the left, everywhere in the world, and especially here in the United States, is openly contemptuous of democracy. During the pandemic, it’s been even worse. When was there anyone on the left who thought that their favorite pandemic policies should only be put into place IF IF IF the American people wanted them? For goodness’ sake, they’re recalling the governor of California!

    1. Whenever we see Biden, Pelosi and the Democrats claim they were trying to save democracy from insurrectionists, always remember how much Democrats hate average Americans. To them, average Americans are racist, homophobic, xenophobic, and sexist, and they have no desire to seek our opinions or serve our interests.

      Progressives believe it’s their job to force us to make sacrifices for the greater good, and forcing us to sacrifice our standard of living for climate change or our quality of life to expand the welfare state, etc., that’s easy for them to do–since they already hate average Americans so much. If people all over the world behold the American government as a single party state controlled by progressives and shudder with fear for democracy, maybe it’s because they’re smart.

      1. Bitter clingers, too.

      2. The word “belief” seems a bit strong. That would in fact suggest that someone actually thought through a concept at some level and internalized it before expressing it outwardly either by personal choices or repetition.

        I’m not saying that the lack of this process is exclusive to the progressives as there are a fair number of folks on the right who do the same thing. But old school liberals, conservatives, and libertarians as a whole tend to put a little more thought into what they believe and subject themselves to those beliefs, even when it’s uncomfortable. On the left, consider Alan Dershowitz and Dennis Kucinich [though I am honestly only in awe of his ability to land a thoroughly hot redhead 30+ years his junior… and he’s not rich].

        Conversely, the lack of the process of developing beliefs itself seems to be an anathema and even foundational for progressives, making them far more dangerous. I see this on virtually every new situation that arises. Progressives and those of similar reactionary mentality almost universally stay mum until they their political leaders announce “our position” on the matter, and then the zombies chant it back, verbatim, as though they had independently all come to the same conclusion and the choice of wording is just conveniently and coincidentally identical. It’s easy, emotions become an acceptable substitute for reason, and its self-righteousness all wrapped up to go. Discernment, suspicion of government motives of the preferred ideology, and unquestioning acceptance of whatever idiocy is being peddled are completely gone. They can come out and blame literally everything on climate change, and not one says, “that’s stupid”. They’ve replaced the old establishment with a NEW and improved establishment, complete with the worship alter. What progressive even thinks, let alone dares to openly doubt ANY progressive politician?

        On the surface such foolishness seems harmless and there are people in every culture who occupy this zone. But as a student of world history, the last time I saw it rise to this level out of the general population of an educated and sophisticated society to support a position of power, it was 1930s Germany.

        1. When geese fly south for the winter, they fly in V-formation, and that isn’t because they’ve understood physics and aerodynamics since long before Newton was born. It’s because they share some common characteristics like feathers, the ability to fly, the need to migrate, etc. As they each follow their own path of least resistance, they end up moving into V-formation because in sharing those characteristics, flying in V-formation is the path of least resistance. There isn’t much thought required.

          Progressives may not put any more thought into why they believe what they believe or why they do what they do than migrating geese, but the common characteristics they share draw them into flying in V-formation as they try to get what they want with the least amount of effort. And I’m here to tell you that when progressives fly in V-formation, it’s about using the coercive power of government to force us to make sacrifices for the greater good as they see it. That theme is central to everything they “believe”.

          Their position on the Green New Deal, for instance, is about using the coercive power of government to force us to make sacrifices in our standard of living for the greater good as they see it. That’s also their position on everything from affirmative action and gun rights to immigration and pharmaceutical patents. I’m not sure I can think of any progressive position that doesn’t boil down to that basic pattern. The compulsion for forced sacrifice is what makes them progressive, even if they can’t articulate their beliefs in those terms.

        2. Progressives and those of similar reactionary mentality almost universally stay mum until they their political leaders announce “our position” on the matter, and then the zombies chant it back, verbatim, as though they had independently all come to the same conclusion and the choice of wording is just conveniently and coincidentally identical.

          You mean how right-wingers here all coincidentally recite Tucker Carlson’s position on any given issue?

          1. I generally don’t even know Tucker Carlson’s position. Apparently he’s a TV “news” personality, and I don’t increase my ignorance by watching any kind of TV “news”. Apparently you follow the opposite policy.

    2. Even now, being contemptuous of what average Americans want is central to what it means to be a progressive.

      Being contemptuous of what “average Americans” want is central to what it means to be pretty much ANYONE, because everybody gets to define what the “average American” means for themselves.

      When majorities of Americans say they want government-run health care, or that they want so-called “assault weapons” to be banned, Team Red is more than happy to show contempt for those opinions and for the people who hold those opinions. You’re a pretty shitty populist if you don’t deliver on what the public actually wants.

      Maybe the reason people everywhere are fearful for democracy is because the left, everywhere in the world, and especially here in the United States, is openly contemptuous of democracy.

      Which team is trying to restrict the right to vote again?

      1. It’s hilarious that you first note that everyone gets to decide what being the “average American” means and then immediately define every leftist slogan as representing those Americans. Have you actually even heard the terms self-awareness and cognitive dissonance?

        1. See my explanation above.

          Show me the issue that doesn’t boil down to that basic pattern.

          Even the progressives’ obsessions with historically marginalized groups seems to be about deciding who should be forced to sacrifice for whom. It’s to the point where identifying who should be forced to make the sacrifices is all that’s needed, and the rest of the argument just makes itself.

          Xenophobes should be forced to sacrifice for immigrants because they’re xenophobes, and if they support building a wall on our southern border, they are xenophobes. That’s all the argument that’s needed. Homophobes oppose gay marriage, racists oppose reparations, sexists oppose abortion, etc., etc., and those positions justify forcing the people who hold them to sacrifice in whatever prescribed way.

          If all (or almost all) of their issues share common characteristics, it is entirely appropriate to point those characteristics out. And using the government to force us to make sacrifices for the greater good, as they see it, is the common characteristic. Don’t get confused by the fact that they’re looking at a hundred different issues. They’re looking at them all through that same lens of forced sacrifice.

        2. The point, is that when Team Red says that they have “average Americans” on their side when it comes to issues that they like, and when Team Blue says that they have “average Americans” on their side when it comes to issues that THEY like, they are both correct to a certain extent. So appealing for a particular policy because that is what “average Americans” like is a fallacious appeal.

  9. After four baby boomer presidents, only one can actually say he didn’t start any new wars. And he was unsatisfactory to libertarians because of the whole mean twittering thing.

    1. Yup.

    2. And he was unsatisfactory to libertarians because of the whole mean twittering war on trade, war on immigration, unflinching support of LEOs, and general buffoonery thing.

      ftfy

      1. Trump was a complete cult of personality. He turned the White House into a reality TV show. I think Trump is a horrible human being who doesn’t deserve to be anywhere near the levers of power. But even if I didn’t, I STILL wouldn’t want any political party to be so devoted to a cult of personality as Team Red is right now. What is Team Red doing right now? Deciding on whether one of their leaders is sufficiently obeisant to Trump or not. It is ridiculous. Trump represented the strongman theory of politics and that alone is enough for him to be rejected.

        1. Team Red is delusional. They actually think they can still fight Team Blue and its propaganda machine.

          In reality, Team Blue has won, permanently. They will eliminate the filibuster, pack SCOTUS, admit a couple of new states to the union, provide amnesty for millions of illegals, and ensure permanent majorities. And they will make good on their promise of turning the US into a racist, socialist sh*thole, just like most of Europe.

          Hope you enjoy!

          1. Meanwhile, chemjeff doesn’t even pick up on your sarcasm and has identified you as his kindred spirit for your enthusiastic support of everything he believes in.

  10. I haven’t read the article yet either. But sometimes the headline itself screams out for comment (spoiler alert: /sarc up ahead): Why oh WHY in all my 54 years on this planet has no one EVER pointed that out to me?!?! (I take zero personal responsibility for it never having occurred to me but, hey, I’m Californian so that’s OK)

  11. “Biden has yet to make significant changes to most of the global engagement he inherited. By and large, the wars, sanctions, and tariffs his predecessor left behind remain intact. But he is set to preside over the end of the U.S. war in Afghanistan”
    I guess Bonnie didn’t notice that Biden reneged on Trump’s May 1 withdrawal so he didn’t exactly leave the war that his predecessor inherited from… Obama/Biden intact.
    https://news.yahoo.com/taliban-threatens-attack-u-nato-195920239.html

    “As withdrawal of foreign forces from [Afghanistan] by agreed upon May 1st deadline has passed, this violation in principle has opened the way for IEA Mujahidin to take every counteraction it deems appropriate against the occupying forces,” Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, said in a statement on Saturday.

    1. I’d also point out that Biden inherited the Abraham Accords, the most important Middle East peace agreement in decades, from his predecessor. Of course if you only read Reason you wouldn’t even know it happened.

      1. Oh, look.

        The guy who says I rape my daughter.

        Hi GG.

        1. ROFL. That’s a completely different guy you retard. I’m the one who follows you around and constantly brings up your self-confessed alcoholism, welfare usage, homelessness, failed marriage, and the loss of custody of your children which could only have arisen as a result of your sexual molestation. That name doesn’t even resemble any of the ones I use.

        2. Stop whining.

      2. Please follow me around and say disgusting things about me so civilized people will mute you and you won’t pollute conversations anymore!

        With sugar on top!

        1. This is a truly amazing level of attention whoring on your part, sarcasmic.

        2. Hey remember when you spent 16 hours and 95 posts telling us how you were going to take all of yours and cytotoxic’s sockpuppets over to Glibertarians to bask in the civility and appreciation of your Marxist viewpoints and never returning here? What ever happened to that? Did they ban you within 2 weeks exactly as I predicted? Or could you just not function without your daily dose of sniveling about your victimhood?

        3. You kinda of remind me of this kid who used to get bullied that for some odd reason thought perpetually annoying the bullies and everyone else around him was a good idea. I thought he was acting out because he was bullied, but after a while I came to the conclusion that he really liked the attention.
          You need to develop a personality that doesnt depend on what other people think of you.

  12. Here in the U.S., it was the same thing. The triumph of Trump was about average American people, especially in the Midwest, trying to reassert control over issues like the Paris Climate accord, the Iranian nuclear deal, immigration, NAFTA and GATT, as well as wanting to see an unpopular program like ObamaCare undone. Even now, being contemptuous of what average Americans want is central to what it means to be a
    https://wapexclusive.com ,progressive. That is by no means unique to the United States’ left, and it is openly hostile to the basic precepts of democracy.

  13. Lets see
    America we want your products and a military base and we will only pay a dictator who will support us and oppress his people.

    China let us buy products and build new roads in your nation

    I don’t understand why people fear us

    by the way Americans fear their own government as well so no surprise the rest of the world fears the U.S.

    1. We are the only country mentioned who hangs our dirty laundry [aka political discourse] out in our own media and broadcasts it around the world. When they hear Americans shitting on their own country, what else are they gonna believe? And aside from a 70 year late 2-minute semi-apology from the political offspring the Der Fuhrer and Hirohito for WW2, we own the other two heads of state that have gone abroad on apology tours.

  14. The US also gets a bad reputation when the heads of foreign countries repeat the lies of the scumbag progressive polititions

  15. I know Ive got a bad reputation, and it isnt just talk talk talk….

  16. A significant portion of the world views the U.S. as a threat to democracy in their home countries.

    A significant portion of the world views the U.S. government as a threat to democracy in its own home country.

    Fiddling an election, purging the military, letting the CIA and FBI violate the constitution with impunity, evading the first amendment by having corporations spy on citizens and attack dissidents, and filling DC with troops and razor wire.

    1. Don’t worry, it will change from “threat” to “undeniable reality” within a few years.

      I expect we’ll have permanent single party government before the end of the decade.

  17. You got what you asked for, faggots

  18. Why the whining from Reason? You wanted a return to normality and rational foreign policy and you got it!

    Destroying foreign countries for fun and profit is what mainstream US foreign policy has been about since WWII.

  19. Given that a U.S. general says China is pursuing [an] Atlantic naval base in west Africa, it’ll be interesting to see more of this “rules-based order” that Secretary of State Antony Blinken has spoken of enforcing on China.

    1. The US has military bases all over the world. From China’s point of view, why shouldn’t they? And who is going to stop them? Biden? Blinken?

      1. Uh, huh. Hence, the “interesting” part.

  20. US foreign policy seems to have fallen off the rails post cold war. Before you had some bad examples of US policy (Philippines and some banana central american “countries”). Cold war we were dragged into some bad decisions by the Wilsonian wing of both parties..(Korea, Vietnam, Iran)…but to some extent it was far left American bolsheiviks and EU commies who always blamed the US and absolved the USSR. Post cold war the US completely lost it’s history of noninterventionism…and you have to blame the neocons/neolibs..who took power (again I blame Bush I for allowing any of these scumbags into power) an focused on “righting old eastern european wrongs” and a very unhealthly obsession with the Middle East while making the bankers like Goldman very very rich. A foreign policy based more on Harding, Bryan, Quincy Adams and Coolidge is what we need..the CFR is threat to our republic..

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  22. Sad, It should not be done.

  23. Perception and reality are not the same thing. The Biden administration is a big threat to other countries democracy and sovereignty. Interference is foreign affairs and warmongering are always a danger. Yet wars are usually started when economies start to collapse, keep that in mind.

  24. Perception and reality are not the same thing. The Biden administration is a big threat to other countries democracy and sovereignty. Interference in foreign affairs and warmongering are always a danger. Yet wars are usually started when economies start to collapse, keep that in mind.

  25. Let me throw out an analogy for consideration. It is frequently reported that areas of the country or groups within this country feel looked down upon by the “elites” and they feel angry. Could the same be said for much of the world where countries or regions feel that they are looked down upon by the US which see its self as the “elite”? Could this in part be the problem?

    1. I think you make a good point…why is the US arming the Ukraine? Why do we think we know what is in other countries best interest…hell go back to how the “woke” investment banks raped Russia after the cold war and USSR ended…and you wonder why Putin is pissed? Time to stop telling the rest of the world they need to be just like us…many Americans don’t want us to be like us these days..

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