The USA is loosing credibility

Credibility is a very important asset. It takes long time to build but can be lost overnight. Of course, all government lie when it suits them but some governments have enjoyed more credibility than others in the past. The USSR had no international credibility while the USA had a pretty good reputation in that respect. I think western countries understand that for a lie to be taken as truth it has to be supported by information which is mostly true. Good information supports lies like the good currency supports the bad currency. You can only have a small amount in circulation or it all becomes tainted and suspicious, even the good one. The government of China has little credibility because it lies so much so even when it is telling the truth people will not be sure.

In the past I have tended to to mainly trust what the US government said unless I had very clear evidence to the contrary because I did feel that, for the most part, the US told the truth and stuck to its promises. I remember when president Clinton ordered the bombing of those factories in Africa I defended him (in spite of my dislike for him personally) and my defense pretty much rested on the credibility of the US government. If they said they had proof I would believe them. I later found out they did not have any real proof and the bombing probably was a mistake. Well, I hoped this was a glitch and the US government would continue to be credible for the most part.

But now I believe the present US government has been telling so many lies that it is seriously damaging its the credibility and this damage will be long lasting. Pretty much since president Bush took office the government has been accused of lying very often and with respect to many different things just to suport its own objectives. The proof and certainty of the existence of WMD in Iraq in order to justify the war is one clear case.

The abuse of the judicial process in order to imprison people. They would clain someone was needed as a material witness and imprison them when that person was never a flight risk and was never needed as a witness at all and it was just a subterfuge to deny that person due process of law and keep him in prison. There are many cases like http://www.freemikehawash.org/

Ashcroft has issued a directive which allows illegal aliens to be incarcerated indefinitely because “they may be a threat to national security”. Yeah, a boatload of Haitians can be a national threat because they are diverting the attention of the Coast Guard from chasing terrorists. Gimme a break. This is the kind of language which made us snicker when it came from China accusing dissidents of being a threat to national security. According to that logic anyone who commits the smallest violation is a threat to national security. Because the trooper who is giving him a ticket for speeding could be chasing terrorists instead. It would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic.

Just recently we have the case of the tank which fired against the Palestine Hotel in Baghdag killing two reporters. The US government said there were snipers firing from the hotel and the tank commander fired in self defense and did not know that was the hotel where all the foreign press was staying but all evidence points to the contrary. There is much live footage from those moments and no firing at all can be heard or seen. It has not been explained how small arms fire would in any case be dangerous to a tank from such a distance across the wide river. Furthermore, a German reporter by the name Ulrich who was embedded with an American unit at another place has declared on German ZDF TV that the tank commander first asked for air support to bomb the hotel and the request was denied telling him they could not bomb that building because it was where all the foreign press was staying. Only after that request was denied did the tank open fire so it cannot be denied that the tank commander knew full well what the target was. The Government has not even bothered to conduct an enquiry (why bother when you can make up the facts yourself?) and has stuck to its story even though it flies in the face of all available evidence which is widely known. No enquiry and no satisfactory explanation to the countries where the reporters came from. The father of the Spanish reporter is a prominent politician who is making the rounds of the media these days and this information is being aired daily and being kept in the forefront. It will not die at least until the next elections are over in about a month.

I believe the damage being done to the credibility and reputation of the USA by the present government is very serious and the consequences will be long lasting not only internationally but also internally. Many more Americans are becoming distrustful of the government, its motives, its ends and its means and this cannot be good. The image of the USA abroad has been worsening too. I just wish the trend could be reversed but I don’t see it happening any time soon.

Interesting OP, sailor, although I suspect the examples you give (save for dubious WMD evidence) are rather too “small potatoes” to affect global credibility.

If I may append my own question: 18 months ago, the US had the sympathy, respect and admiration of the entire world, even (perhaps begrudgingly) most Arab states.

Wot happened?

Hrm… I’d prefer they tighten their credibility a bit… but then the USA needs to loosten up a bit on the world stage. Loosey lefty tighty righty.

Well, the point is that there are so many of those “small” examples that they add up to a lot.

I am sure Many of the civilians who were killed in Iraq will never be remembered as they have no one to tell their story. The two reporters killed though were reporters and surrounded by more reporters. Their story is kept alive daily and it does not reflect well on the government of the US. In the USA nobody knows who those reporters were but in their home countries the stories are not dead and they are not helping the image or credibility of the US.

The Spanish guy was the son of a prominent politician. His father was about to speak at a political act when he was told the news so it was quite shocking as it happened in public, in front of all the TV cameras. This story is daily news and will continue to be daily news for some time. The result is that the perception of the USA in Spain has worsened considerably which is not a good thing. It will probably lead to governments wich are less prone to coopearte with the USA. In other countries the story will be a different one but they have their stories. In the US the stories are of American citizens whose rights are being abused.

That is precisely my point, stories of the US government lying are everywhere. It is not just one story, it is a constant stream of stories.

As much as I disliked president Clinton, and as much as I felt he was a liar himself, I never had the feeling that the government of the US was not worthy of trust or that it would lie to justify its ends. I think that perception has changed in many minds around the world. That is my point. You could dislike president Clinton and still trust the US government. What I am afraid of is that many people around the world, inside and outside the USA, are now not trusting the US government and not just the person of the President of the US. That is the damage I am talking about.

And it’s “losing”, not “loosing”, unless it’s releasing credibility from a state of tension.

Yup, I know that. I should have profread.

I think that the US has lost whatever credibility it had, and I think it will take a very long time before it’s regained, if it can be regained at all.

How exactly was Clinton viewed on the int’l scene?

My guess is he was pretty unpredictable and unreliable, and everything was for sale. But I’m not sure what he did over those 8 years that would characterize his int’l policy overall as dishonest or aggressive/imperialistic. Of course, it is easy to say that shortfallings during his tenure increased US vulnerability, which made Bush’s present efforts necessary.

And some folk may well argue that int’l opinion should take a distant back seat to domestic interests. Or that benefit can be derived from having an “irrational” decisionmaker at the helm.

All that said, I would be surprised if anyone can convincingly argue that US is highly respected internationally. Feared, perhaps. Seen as source of potential strategic/economic benefit by some. But not widely respected as an honest and respectful world actor.

Note - your “minor” examples, IMO, pale compared to the trumped up basis for this war. How will we convince anyone we did not plant any WMDs we may “discover,” lacking independent corroboration? What little I have read suggested a whole lot of arm-twisting and disrespect was involved in forming our mighty coalition.

I agree that my examples are not major stuff when compared to the entire war thing but they are many and they do add up. The point is that the US government lies and lies a lot, big lies and small lies, it lies a lot.

>> I would be surprised if anyone can convincingly argue that US is highly respected internationally

Oh, I disagree. I think even those who would consider themselves to be enemies of the US would have said that the US was mostly credible in their claims. I believe the USA did have a certain credibility even in the eyes of those who were opposed to it.

When the Hainan incident the US an China immediately gave conflicting versions, the US claimed it happened in international airspace and China claiming it happened in Chinese air space. At that point is was strictly a matter of credibility of each party and I think the USA had a much higher credibility in the eyes of the world. That is what I am afraid is being lost. I am not talking about people liking the US government but of people believing in the honesty and credibility of the US government even if they don’t like it.

Or maybe even proofread. :smiley:

Seriously, though, i agree with most of your OP. I’m just not sure that the material consequences of diminished credibility for the United States are going to be very great, and so the administration can afford to carry on as it has without too much concern.

When a nation wields as much military and economic clout as the United States, it’s a little difficult to translate diminished credibility into consequences that might bring about a change in behaviour. Another problem is that the very institutions that might call the US to account for its actions–like the UN, or perhaps the International Criminal Court–are the very institutions that the US is doing its best to undermine. They are also institutions that have little or no real jurisdiction, especially (in the case of the ICC) over a country that refuses to recognize the institution’s authority. And even more especially over a large country that cannot be forced to comply with the institution’s ruling.

The growth of Europe as a single market provides an opportunity for economic pressure to be brought to bear on the US, but nations there have understandably shown little interest in doing this because the United States still represents a key trade partner for many of these countries. Also, as has been painfully obvious over the past months, Europe is far from united on the issue of US credibility and policies, with some leaders showing strong support for the Bush administration and other showing considerable hostility.

Well, if we’ve lost all our credibility, we might as well do whatever we darn well please from now on.

Just to add to one of sailor’s examples, but I remember reading that al Jazeera asked Centcom for assurances that they wouldn’t be targeted by U.S. bombers the day before their Baghdad offices were bombed. They alleged that Centcom assured them that al Jazeera would be safe, because Centcom still had the exact coordinates of where the offices were (they had been given this information before the war began) and wouldn’t target AJ as a result.

One night later, al Jazeera gets bombed, and – conveniently enough – there are no non-Western media sources available to cover the U.S. takeover of Baghdad. I’m wondering if the U.S. was afraid al Jazeera might have interrupted their pre-planned statue-pulling ceremonies…

I concur on the point that the US government is losing credibility at a rapid rate.

I believe the cause of the credibility collapse is not so much the dishonesty of the current administration, but rather the sheer arrogance. The invasion of Iraq is the most glaring and prominent example but I think Sailor is correct in noting the number of smaller incidents. I happen to think that this government has lied to the people no less than previous administrations; it’s just that the current one is so arrogant, and even stupid, in their relentless pushing of agendas that are plainly corrupt. They don’t seem to be even trying to seem credible. Actions are taken and when they’re questioned, the most inane and mindless justifications are given in return. It is an arrogance that doesn’t seem to care about what Americans and the world at large think (much less what is actually right and wrong) and that is alarming. Leaderships and regimes that have been arrogant enough to proceed in the face of lost credibility, drawing solely upon intimidation as its means of influence, have acted to bring about some of history’s most infamous events.

Let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself.

well… someone has to say it…

the US has Credibility??!! :smiley:

I dont think you had enuf credibility to make that happen. But then it was an incredible thing to say and it might just work.

Seriously tho, the US has had an image problem ever since … since forever. First it was the colonists taking on the the worlds mightiest military (twice)

Then pirates of the Mediterranean (oooo spell check police help me!!)

Then its own people

then it was the big wars then finally the superpowered USSR.

The US is all about proving itself and now it has no equal in might and power, now it has to prove itself to be benign and benevolant. The US is changing with the times and credibility is based on results not mere appearance. Sure it has made mistakes big and small in the past, but what its trying to prove now is that it has learned from those mistakes and is moving on. The US isnt perfect, but still the best…IMHO.

Funny, can’t seem to find any evidence of that in my thread, “Why not use third party verfication for WoMD hunt?.”

Don’t forget the Mexican War, X~Slayer(ALE). And while we’re at it, we’d better toss in the Spanish-American war as well.

The justification for those two wars most closely matches the justification provided by the United States for this one.

and the biggest difference between any of those to this present situation is the sophistication of the peoples of the world and their ability to instantly get information.

This war was prosecuted under a microscope. Probed, proded, poked and dissected by every pundit and politician from asia to europe to america and back to asia. The truth will come out of all of this and it cannot be hidden for long. The question that bothers AZCowboy is when and how long? Its been just over a month, give it time. watch carefully and be vigilant. You know your history and watch for mistakes being repeated. Voice your concerns but dont pre-judge based on history alone. Get all of the facts first.

I think the US IS losing credibility, this does have something to do with George Bush. The unofficial, but still very real position of “Leader of the Free world” has always been held by the US president. But in my mind this position is rather like the Holy Roman Emperor, which was traditionally (and only) held by someone elected “King of the Germans”, however if the Pope disagreed, the King of the Germans would not become Holy Roman Emperor. I think the rest of the ‘Free World’ has refused to rubber stamp George Bush as “Leader of the Free World” as they believe him to be dangerously incompetent, especially in the arena of international politics and disapprove of him filling his cabinet with people who hold extreme views (that is compared to the opinions generally held in the West). Therefore the current US president does not command the respect (and therefore credibilty) that would be usually due to the “Leader of the Free World”.

I want to insist I am talking strictly about credibility. A country, person or organization can be seen favorably or not, it can be the meanest, most arrogant, bully, and yet, have high credibility if it has a history of being truthful. A terrorist group can be hated by the people and yet be very credible in what it says if it has a history of always telling the truth. That is what I am talking about, not whether the USA is right or wrong, arrogant or not. It is about whether all these lies will backfire in the long run. I am of the opinion that lying is a way of postponing and enlarging problems. It is true for individuals and it is true for governments. There is a high price to be paid for lying and that is the loss of credibility. That is a huge asset for a nation like it is for a newspaper. The reputation and credibility of a newspaper is based on their track record, it takes a long time to build but can be easily damaged.

X~Slayer(ALE), perhaps I wasn’t clear. My concern in the other thread is that it represents an opportunity to improve the credibility of US, both domestically and internationally. The US administration has chosen not to take advantage of the opportunity. I fail to see how that supports your assertion that the US is “trying to prove now is that it has learned from those mistakes and is moving on”.