The USA is loosing credibility

OOH Improve credibility… Oh yeah that will happen real soon.


I seem to remember making a thread about the US losing the propaganda war during this little tiff we had with Saddam. The US is notoriously inept about handling its image as viewed by the arab world.

All I am going for now are the results of the US actions. It doesnt really matter how the world views the US as long as the right results are achieved. Granted we dont know all of the objectives that has to be met here but thats for another thread.

In addressing the issue of credibility, right, wrong and arrogant play an inevitable role. I agree completely that how truthful a government is seen to be is important but honesty is not a factor that exists exclusively.

Lies become necessary when corrupt actions are taken. If a government acts righteously and in accordance with widely accepted moral principles, they can utter the truth comfortably and confidently. You wouldn’t see all of the empty and evasive double-talk nonsense at press conferences. When politicians treat people like mushrooms (keep them in the dark and feed them shit) people sense it, even if they don’t know what exactly the suits are lying about.

Then if the government grows arrogant, they will become more bold in making blatantly wrong moves and, at the same time care less about whether their story is convincing or not. It is at this point that credibility heads south in big way, as in the current administration. This sort of arrogance, however, won’t give a shit because they own the military and credibility counts for naught when you command armies (at least to their way of thinking).

Again, I don’t think this government is being particularly less truthful than those of the past. I just think their lies are more obvious.

Yes, the lies will backfire; but not as violently as the actions that the lies try to cover up.

Yes, the lies are a way of postponing and enlarging problems. You can’t fix the problem if you won’t confront what the cause of the problem is. And problem left to fester is a problem that bites you in the ass when you’re not looking.

I agree that the USA is losing - has lost, in fact - credibility among the rest of the world, but I am not sure that it really matters, in many senses.

The US is too strong militarily and too important economically for other nations to be able to stand up to it. In international fora designed for free speech and debate, it isn’t even possible to oppose the US’s wishes (eg France/Powell’s recent comments).

Basically - yes, the American public was clearly misled about many issues concerning this war. That’s not to say it’s the first time a public has been misled about a war, far from it. Soldiers have been sent in to die over far less worthwhile battles, for far more selfish motives, than this one. But it should be clear even to those who supported a war - for whatever reason - that no one clear reason was ever given by the Bush administration, and the goalposts are still shifting now.

So yes, sailor, I agree with you that the US fast continues to lose credibility, but not that it is of much importance, at least short-medium term. Longer term, as Europe consolidates with or without the UK, and as China grows in strength and East Asian nations recover from recent economic woes and start to form a bloc - maybe with Russia - then yes, it’s a problem.

But by then I imagine - I hope - there will be a very different adminisration in place in America.

sailor – I don’t think your complaint is really credibility. You just disagree with what the Bush Administration are doing.

E.g., Clinton signed on to the Kyoto accord, but made no effort to get the US to commit to it. AFAIK most of the countries that signed it have done little to implement it. Bush frankly withdrew from the treaty. Maybe this was a bad move, but it wasn’t dishonest. In fact, it was more honest than those who signed it without intending to implement it.

Iraq is another example. Over the years, Clinton and the UN had plenty of rhetoric threatening war, but they didn’t follow through. Bush showed that he meant what he said. Again, the war may have been wrong, but Bush’s threats were more credible than Clinton’s or the Security Council’s.

ISTM that a lot of people are uncomfortable with Bush because he’s straight-forward and means what he says.

december has a point! From now on, whenever Fearless Misleader threatens to do something destructive and irrational, his threat will have credibility. Hence, in a twisted and perverse way, America has actually gained credibility.

I agree with the OP. The US is losing and has already lost a great deal of credibility. Of course, the rest of the world, as X~Slayer(ALE) said, has always had its differences with the US on various issues, but I feel that now the world is finding it difficult to trust the US, in general, rather than on specifics. This is unfortunate; we, despite what you may think, actually do want to get on with America.

And to Dinsdale: Clinton had credibility. In international terms, Clinton was very popular. He mightn’t have always made the right decision, but he appeared capable and compassionate, and that counts for a lot.

Personally, I don’t care nearly as much about what the world thinks of my country as I used to.

The constant criticism (some justified, most ridiculous, IMHO) of America from abroad - and at home, too - is like a baby crying at a restaurant.

At first, it shocks your senses, then you become angry as the crying grates on your nerves. Then, slowly you realize it’s what toddlers do and you get used to it. Pretty soon, you get used to the crying and it ceases to make an impact.

I’ve almost stopped listening to the criticism altogether - mainly because it’s become such a Herculean task to separate the wheat from the chaff.

And that’s too bad, because I think most Americans welcome criticism made in good faith. I contend the painful self-criticism of the 1970s - especially as it occurred in the military - helped America become the “hyperpower” that everybody loves to hate.

Conversely, although there are some hopeful exceptions, I perceive an overall lack of honest self-criticism in the Arab-Muslim world, which I hope will change soon.

You’re kidding right? And watch who you are describing as toddlers. This is an international board, and I don’t appreciate my valid criticisms being described as a tantrum simply because I’m not an American citizen. Maybe you should put your flag and your burger down and have a look at what your country is doing to the world.

gex gex (and anyone else who took offense at my post),

I apologize for my rather poorly-worded post.

Once I typed that analogy and hit “Submit Reply,” I regretted it because I knew some would take it to mean that I’m comparing the non-American citizens of the world to toddlers, which is obviously bad form, and certainly NOT what I meant to say.

If you read the post again, I said, “The constant criticism…is like a baby crying at a restaurant.” I did not say that those PEOPLE criticizing America are like toddlers.

If I could attempt to restate…

IMHO, the criticism America absorbs - when taken in its totality - has become like background noise that I have tuned out for the most part. I’m sure some of the criticism the US endures is justified, but I have a hard time separating the honest and valid criticism from the over-the-top, ridiculous vitriol that I perceive as overwhelming the necessary, honest criticism.

Again, sorry to offend with my previous post.

However, in the same spirit of reconciliation, I hope you will also retract the “you should put your flag and your burger down” unnecessary comment.

Ok, fair enough. I retract the comment, and apologise for it. I dislike stereotypes and should not have lowered myself to engaging in one, regardless of how I felt about your (now explained) comment.

However, I do ask you not to simply ignore criticism of America. A lot of it is made by America’s friends and allies who do not wish to see the US stray down a path that will have negative repercussions for both them and the rest of the world.

Interesting juxtaposition, no?

The thing is, I think you’re absolutely right.

I don’t want to ignore criticism from abroad, because I believe that some of it comes from friends who are genuinely worried about American actions, as you said.

The problem, which I was referring to in my earlier (obtuse) post, is the constant bombardment of dishonest vitriol directed at America that I see and hear. I guess I’ve just gotten desensitized to hearing my country trashed, the flag burned, etc. I used to worry about it; now, it just doesn’t bother me anymore.

But honestly, gex gex, as an American, I am trying my best to listen fairly to different viewpoints, and I do think America could be a better global citizen.

And I perceive that to be precisely the attitude emanating from a good many Americans as of late – starting from the top. Turning a deaf ear to sound/valid criticism with an arrogance that is hard to stomach. In fact, I am starting to dislike Americans and generalize about them in ways I never thought I would.

Which leads me to believe we both have a problem and the sooner we get to work on it the better we’ll be.

Of course, you could tune me out too…

Sounds good to me. I hope we begin working on it soon. All this bitterness sucks. I hate how geopolitics has come between us.

And if it’s sound/valid criticism, I want to hear it. I welcome it. We need it.

But when you constantly hear and read that you’re the source of all bad in the world, and THAT kind of criticism tends to overwhelm the sound/valid criticism, it just gets old to squares like me.

Maybe we Americans have developed a persecution complex. :frowning:

I don’t want to. I hope we can settle our differences in the spirit of friendship.


For starters, I see we both joined the SDMB at about the same time. So we have something in common already.

Seriosly though, I actually appreciated the honesty of your first post – I wasn’t offended by it in as much as I have become somewhat used to that sort of reflexive reaction to criticism by Americans as of late. As a result of it, I realize that I’ve become both more agressive towards Americans and, at the same time, more reserved. Meaning that I’ve lost some of the innate trust I felt towards them (you) as a whole.

Seems to me in some ways we’re mirroring each other’s attitudes. But by the sound of your last post, it also seems you’re willing to give it another go. As am I.

Would that it was representative of many many more of us. But in all honesty, I am not very confident that is so. There’s been a lot of damage done over the past couple of years – and it wasn’t just by Osama. I don’t know if the healing can start in earnest as long as you have the kind of leaders you have now. They’ve set the tone and it grates the ear.

In many ways I don’t think this little exchage between us is a hijack. On the contrary, I think it relates directly to the OP. The USA is only as credible as the people in it. And I have reason to believe that you are a lot more trustworthy and tolerant than those you have chosen (?) to represent you.

For all the differences, I think we have a lot more in common. Perhaps if we all work at it, we could start making the world a bit more balanced so there won’t be a need for “us” and “them,” as in the now infamous “with us or against us” quote. I say ‘infamous’ because one gets the feeling you lot have really taken it to heart. Witness the reaction towards the French – who just happen to represent the great majority of the world on this particular issue. Which of course, makes the rest of the world, “them.” Thing is, the world is getting smaller every day and the sooner we realize it, the more of ‘us’ there will be. Period.

I guess that type of thinking makes me a bleeding-heart liberal and that’s fine. For I still have a pretty good left hook to go along with that leaky ticker . :wink:

In terms of Realpolitik, the U.S. has been gaining credibility. A lot of it.

The most important type of credibility is having people believe you’ll do what you’ll say you’ll do. George Bush does what he says he’ll do.

If you want to lose credibility, try claiming that you’re in Lebanon ‘for the duration’, and then pull out after suffering terrorist bombing. Reagan’s biggest tactical mistake in the Middle East.

If you want to lose credibility, tell North Korea that you will not, under any circumstances, bargain with them until they get rid of their nukes. Then, when they ratchet up the rhetoric a bit, cave in and agree to a compromise. Clinton did that, as did Bush I.

If you want to lose credibility, tell the Shia to rise up against Saddam, then pull back when they do and let them get slaughtered. The U.S. did that in the 1990’s.

The U.S. is now gaining a long-lost reputation for meaning what it says. You know why the French miscalculated so badly in the run-up to the war? Because they were used to dealing with a U.S. that would make bellicose statements, then change its tune when the heat was on. But as more than one commentator has said, “If you want to predict what the U.S. will do a year from now, the best way to do that is to listen to what George Bush says he’ll do.”

That’s credibility.


Good points. I’m sure you’ll call this a nitpick, and I won’t argue with you about that, but GW’s claim that we were going to put a resolution before the UN, no matter what, to get a head count of who supported and didn’t support the war was not too bright. And his lack of follow-thru cost him some credibility.

Let’s see how he does with the Israel/Palestine issue. That needs to be next on the list.

John: I had forgotten about that. You’re right - Bush put himself in a tough spot by saying that no matter what, there would be a vote. It was a bluff, and he got called.

I agree the US has lost credibility.
I believe the fault lies with Bush and his gov. He’s a bit … simple, so he doesn’t know how to lie very well. Look at Blair. He stood beside Bush all the way, but he is a master debater (try saying that many times in a row). Although even he came off as a “Poodle” and a “Worm” to much of the world.

A more interesting question is: Putting aside morality, should the US worry about losing credibility? Who’s going to stand against it anyhow? Foreign governments on the average care very very little about the US policy as long as they stay on their good side. The only people who care are,… well,… us.
The only thing the US has to fear is generating so much fanatical hatred against it that it’ll someday get a low-tech nuke detonated within its borders.

Red Fury

This statement shows a lot of wisdom on your part, Red Fury. Telecommunications technology is shrinking the world every day. Unfortunately, this technology is enabling people to talk AT each other, or PAST each other, but not WITH each other.

And though you and I disagree on this war (as do most Americans and non-Americans, I suppose) the sooner we get out of the “us vs. them” paradigm, the better.

Red Fury:


Look, I like Europe and Europeans. I found the French people to be warm and gracious hosts, contrary to their stereotype. My travels in Bavaria were enchanting. Amsterdam blew my mind (literally :stuck_out_tongue: ). I hope when I go back, the people of Europe will be just as nice as they have been in the past.

To me, these things will always be more important than geopolitical differences we may have. As long as we both remember that our common humanity is more important than our different nationalities, I think we’ll be OK. Quite frankly, I think this too shall pass, hopefully sooner than later.

Now, to respond to you Red Fury, when you say Americans are “Turning a deaf ear to sound/valid criticism with an arrogance that is hard to stomach.”

I acknowledge the presence of some Americans who fit the arrogant, know-it-all, cowboy jingoist image, who very well might turn a deaf ear to sound/valid criticism. However, I assert that most of us Americans are boring, working stiffs who know we’re not perfect but don’t quite understand how our country became the scourage of the world, who don’t quite believe we’re as bad as we’re portrayed.

In short, I think many of us are tuning out criticism from abroad out of fatigue, not arrogance. The worldwide opprobium is coming at us from all angles, and I think we recognize that some of it is valid and worth pondering. But much of it is not, and it’s getting harder (for me at least) to muster up the effort to dispute our image any longer.

Maybe our problem is that we want to be the most powerful nation in the world as well as the most beloved. That’s not meant to be in this world.