Bush Fumbles Away Decades of Trust & Friendship
Even Norway Sees Dramatic Rise in Criticism of U.S.
The U.S. is squandering its ability to persuade and inspire other nations. In short, the U.S. is losing its position of leadership.
Here are portions of an article circulated by the Grassroots Media Network -- the original appeared in the Norwegian daily Aftenposten.
America's star keeps fading in NorwayNorway has long been a loyal ally of the US but sentiment is quickly turning sour at a variety of levels. From dinner party conversation to local Rotary meetings to the ranks of researchers and top politicians: US policy is now being called everything from arrogant to downright scary.
"The US has set a frightening agenda through its fight against terrorism after Sept 11," Nils Butenschoen of Oslo's Institute for Human Rights said on Tuesday. The US, Butenschoen claims, seems to think anything is legitimate in its anti-terrorism campaign.
His remarks are just the latest in a recent stream of criticism unleashed by Norwegians who, like others throughout Europe, are growing increasingly frustrated with the signals from Washington.
As Butenschoen's comments rolled out of local news bureau NTB, another group of disgusted and sarcastic Norwegians was delivering a so-called "protest cake" to the American Embassy near downtown.
Members of the group called "The Future in our Hands" (Fremtiden i våre hender) got past the concrete barriers and cyclone fences that have surrounded the embassy for months. They wanted to offer their "congratulations" to the US for its success in shooting down international efforts at the UN summit in Johannesburg to boost energy production from renewable sources.
Norway had scored a major victory at the summit on Monday by blocking a move to make environmental pacts secondary and less binding than trade pacts. On Tuesday, some Norwegian officials, along with others from all over the world, were accusing the US and OPEC nations of taking revenge by blocking efforts to set quotas on use of renewable energy sources.
The angry Norwegians in Oslo delivered a marzipan cake decorated with a globe on which the American flag was placed over Johannesburg. "I hope the cake will taste bitter," said group leader Arild Hermstad.
Behaving like a bully
The gesture illustrated the growing frustration with the US, which now is often viewed as being isolationist and thumbing its nose at the rest of the world. Most nations, Norway included, rallied behind the US after last year's terror attacks. Now many feel the US is behaving like an ignorant and insensitive bully.
The frustration was carefully chronicled in a commentary last week by the political editor of newspaper Aftenposten, Norway's major and generally conservative broadsheet. Harald Stanghelle noted how anti-Americanism is rising at an alarming tempo, and how sympathy has given way to skepticism, even in Norway, which has been among the most loyal of US allies.
It's not just the threats of an attack on Iraq, disregard for human rights in the fight against terrorism, or the US' refusal to go along with the world's will through the Kyoto agreement on climate gases.
Business groups are furious over US protectionism. Norway's Foreign Minister (who's from the Conservatives) railed against US efforts to undermine the new International Criminal Court in The Hague. Even local Rotarians are asking critical questions, Stanghelle wrote, while diplomats are muttering that the US sets itself above international agreements while insisting that the rest of the world follow them.
As Stanghelle observed, the US is on its way to becoming its own worst enemy.
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