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April 24, 2005

Weekly Top 10 List: Top 10 Things the Bush Administration Could Do, With No Change of Policy, That Would Improve America's Image Around the World
Posted by Suzanne Nossel

This is a list of steps the Bush Administration could take to improve America's poor image around the world, without the need for any shifts in policy.   The best part is, they don't have to do all 10.  Any one would help, and a handful together would send a powerful signal.  Thanks to Heather for the inspiration and her input.  Errors, and I'm sure there are some, are all mine.

1.   Get Behind Gordon Brown's Global Anti-Poverty Initiative – UK Chancellor of the Exchequer and Prime Minister wannabe Gordon Brown is championing an effort to get the G-8 countries to live up to commitments made in 2001 (during Bush's first term) to end poverty.  Even if Bush cannot sign onto everything, a nod toward the effort would help show that the U.S. respects the priorities of others and cares about those who have the least.

2.  Declare that the U.S. Does Not Intend to Maintain Permanent Bases in Iraq – By quietly withdrawing its bases from Saudi Arabia in the years after September 11, the Bush Administration tacitly acknowledged that, despite the strategic advantages, having a standing U.S. military presence in the Middle East can become a flashpoint for anti-American resentment. Given the legacy of the Iraq occupation, the point is doubly true there.  During the campaign, Bush stated that the U.S. "had no ambition in Iraq." Though debate on the matter is still raging, a clear statement by Bush would go a long way toward clarifying the U.S.'s intentions in a direction that will reassure the region.  Only problem is it seems Cheney is moving in the opposite direction.

3.  Get Karen Hughes Out of Texas and Into Her Job as Head of Public Diplomacy – Appointing Karen Hughes to front the Administration's public diplomacy effort at least signaled that the country's cheerleader would have the President's ear.  But now the Administration says Hughes won't even start the job until the fall. But the U.S. can ill-afford allowing its pep squad a semester off.   Hughes is waiting for her son to go off to college, but there are worse things in teenage life than a summer in DC.

4.  Initiate a Credible Independent Investigation of the Abuses at Abu Ghraib – Some Americans may have already forgotten the shame of Abu Ghraib, but the misdeeds there will die hard in the minds of people around the world, many of whom saw the prison scandals as emblematic of American abuse of power.  The Army's own just-completed investigation has drawn sharp criticism for essentially clearing the senior-most officials responsible for the prison from any wrongdoing.  Bush should show the world that the horrors of Abu Ghraib have not been forgotten or swept under the rug.

5.  Nominate a  U.S. Ambassador to the UN that Will Command International Support – This assumes John Bolton does not survive the confirmation battle now underway.   Though UN officials tried to put on a brave face, the world saw Bolton's appointment almost as a punishment being unleashed by the Bush Administration.  We have talked here about the sorts of qualities needed in a new ambassador.  Laura Rozen has some ideas of people the Administration would trust, but who would be received in a much more positive light.   

6.  Declare U.S. Support for Specific Aspects of Kofi Annan's Reform Agenda - The Administration maintains that the UN must reform if it is to survive (a variation on Amb. Richard Holbrooke's mantra that we need to "fix it to save it").  But their policy thin on details and they have not publicly pronounced on most of the specific proposals on the table.  Kofi Annan's reform agenda is full of ideas that are in the U.S.'s self-interest.   Bush should champion a few, like a new terrorism accord and the reform of the organization's Commission on Human Rights.  This would signal that in the Administration's mind, "made at the UN" doesn't mean an idea is a non-starter.

7.   Engage in Serious Planning for a post-Kyoto Climate Change Regime – The U.S.  cannot remain a global environmental outlaw forever, and the Administration seems to recognize that.  But instead of ruminating on pie-in-the-sky remedies that only up the world's supply of hot air, Bush should get behind a proposal that would put U.S. commitments to reducing emissions roughly in line with those made by the rest of the industrialized world.  This would do a lot to restore faith in Europe and Japan that the U.S.  is prepared to play by rules.

8.   Drive the Middle East Peace Process Through to Completion – While the Administration professes fervent commitment to Mideast peace, it seems to shift focus away at any opportunity.  While there seems to be an informal understanding that Bush will lay off Sharon as long as he proceeds with his Gaza withdrawal plan, the Administration should be actively engaged in implementing other aspects of the road map.  The consensus in the region seems to be that its mind is elsewhere.   Its hard to imagine anything that would have a greater lasting impact on the U.S.'s image in the Arab world than a permanent Palestinian-Israeli settlement.

9.  Push Forward on a Migration Accord with Mexico – Mexicans have seen precious little from the promise of a close friendship with the Bush Administration, but what would mean more than virtually anything else is movement toward a migration accord that would protect Mexicans who arrive in the United States and help prevent deaths along the way.  By nodding toward the region, Bush could help sooth frayed relationships toward the rest of Latin and South America as well.

10.  Make Good on His Own Commitment to Fund the Millennium Challenge Account – Bush's major innovation in development aid is the creation of the Millennium Challenge Account (see here for details), but the initiative has been under-funded from the outset and, from what I can tell, has yet to disburse any funds.  Making good quickly on the MCA's promise would help alleviate the perception that the U.S. fails to back its rhetoric on development with resources.


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aren't some of these actual shifts in policy? e.g. #7?

There's a great article on #10 in January/February's copy of Foreign Affairs if you haven't seen it.

There's a great article on #10 in January/February's copy of Foreign Affairs if you haven't seen it.

Great points- the blogosphere needs more constructive stuff like this.


aren't they almost all shifts in policy? except for brining Karen Hughes in more quickly? e.g. #3?

You missed out "resign"

Ms. Nossel's top 10 list of things the administration could do is sensible and clearly based on knowledge of U.S. foreign policy. Question: regarding #8: by "completion" of the peace process does Ms. Nossel have any particular idea regarding what Jerusalem will look like -- united or divided -- in the completed process and does she believe that the large Jewish settlements in the West Bank will remain under Israeli authority?

Nice ideas. But you don't think that Bush and Company really have an intrest in improving America's image do you? I mean seriously, all these people want to do is RULE, not govern. They want to be the new world conqistoders. Sadly for us, they are nothing more than terriosts of the poor and downtrodden.

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I hope i can get rf online gold in low price.

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