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The American narrative winds up

30 May 2006

In occupying Iraq, 'punishing' Iran and 'warning' North Korea, the United States is behaving as if it were still the world's policeman.

But its new enemy, radical Islam, possesses an asymmetrical weapon - love of death - for which the only counter is something the United States has now relinquished: respect for democracy, freedom and human rights. (I'm referring to the realities, not the rhetoric of President Bush.)

Had they been practised, these values could have galvanised much of Islam in America's cause - and engulfed its radicals in a culture of disapproval. The deliberate abandonment of these values, however, has done the opposite: and the security of millions of Western citizens has been destroyed.

However the United States is still behaving as if foreign governments can be easily changed, as if allies will automatically join American wars, and as if violent anti-American groups can be swatted down like flies. Bizarrely, to observers outside the US, the Administration also acts as if its pronouncements on ethics and values should be taken seriously.

But the world has changed a lot since George W Bush first entered office. In those short years America's enemies have become much more virulent, and her friendships fewer and feebler. President Bush has sealed a transformation that three-quarters of a century of Communist propaganda failed to advance. The world has stopped buying the American narrative.

John Macgregor

Chiang Mai



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