View From Abroad

Ken AshfordBush & Co., Disasters, Foreign AffairsLeave a Comment

I was always amused by Clinton haters who decried his sexual misconduct by saying that it made America an embrassment to the world . . . as if Europeans have the same amount of prudishness as socially conservative Americans.  They don’t.

But this article in The American Prospect indicates that we should be embarrassed by recent events.  An excerpt:

Europeans are appalled at the natural disaster and at George W. Bush, apparently in equal measure. A September 2 article for Belgium’s major newspaper, Le Soir, says: "The richest country on the planet has left the destitute, poor, sick and old to fend for themselves in the face of a predictable and predicted disaster." And under the headline "The Americans stunned by the frailty of their power,” France’s Le Monde quotes several U.S. news sources expressing their disbelief that this is really America they’re seeing on TV, claiming that it looks more like the Third World.

They have also zeroed in on Bush’s performance. A writer for the Spanish newspaper El Pais notes that "Bush seems mired in his own incompetence." The weekend edition of Britain’s Financial Times follows suit, with its main headline: "’Fix this goddam crisis,’ Bush told by New Orleans mayor." The Guardian also focuses on the president, with a September 2 headline that reads "Bush under fire over hurricane aid."

Many Europeans lamented the U.S. government’s slow response to provide aid, with the British Daily Mail running a September 2 article headlined “The humbling of a Superpower.” "Here is a superpower that can crush at will a tinpot dictatorship — but then becomes so bogged down in the grisly aftermath of war that it finds itself unable to respond anything like adequately to the plight of tens of thousands of its own citizens engulfed by a natural calamity,” writes a Daily Mail journalist.

Read the whole thing.