Thursday, September 15, 2005

"We need a powerful but humble US"

Financial Times: "A central thread in the geopolitical story of the past few years has been American power and American vulnerability. In the global maelstrom since September 11, 2001, the rest of the world has at once chafed at US might and quietly celebrated its pregnability. The paradox, visible again in the grisly aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, explains much of the confusion in international affairs."

New Statesman: "In so far as they went, the inquests are justified. There is much guilt and blame to be shared around. It took the fury of Katrina to bring home to many the sheer hopelessness of Bush and his administration, both in their immediate response and in their prior lack of competent planning. The spectacle of countries such as Sri Lanka sending donations and Fidel Castro offering to send medical supplies with 1,100 doctors only underlined the desperate nationalistic need to find scapegoats to appease the shame." "Yet, what has been far less appealing is the unseemly international display of 'schadenfreude' over the fall of the mighty United States, which has been mixed with sanctimonious sniffing at the sight of poor black Americans stranded in the New Orleans Convention Center and the Superdome after the storm. As usual, the international media has served as an echo chamber of the American media. Just as CNN was ready from day one to look for people to interview to blame to the federal government, so were media the world over ready to blame President Bush for the actions of Mother Nature. In the words of The Irish Times, 'This is a defining moment for Mr. Bush, just as 9/11 was. So far his reputation for prompt and firm crisis management has fallen far short of what is required.'"

The Globe and Mail: "Much of the coverage has been sympathetic, albeit tinged with horror and disbelief. For many commentators, the storm's hideous aftermath has reinforced deeply rooted stereotypes of an America rife with guns, racism and frontier justice."

The Economist: "Pundits explained the government’s failure in every way they pleased. Anti-war types blamed Iraq, particularly the fact that thousands of National Guard troops had been sent there. Environmental types blamed Mr Bush’s lackadaisical attitude to wetlands. Many Democrats saw it as proof that Mr Bush and the Republicans cared nothing for America’s poor and black. Liberals argued that Katrina showed why, as James Galbraith, a vocal leftist economist at the University of Texas, put it, the 'government of the United States must be big, demanding, ambitious and expensive.' A Wall Street Journal column, in contrast, argued that the hurricane showed the danger of relying too heavily on inefficient government."


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