A nice commentary by The New Republic’s Peter Beinert on what US conservatives’ reaction to the tsunami reveals about their view of the world: Distant shores.
To win over global hearts and minds, the United States must show Muslims, and others, that we are benevolent–that we want a better world for them; that we are not just in it for empire and oil. That means financial generosity–giving money for economic and social development rather than only military assistance. But it also means what might be called intellectual generosity–a genuine curiosity about the rest of the world, even when our safety is not directly threatened, even when the dramas aren’t primarily about us.
It is that curiosity that is so profoundly absent from Bush, who tries to see as little as possible of the countries he visits.
Beinert pretty much nails it. The campaign to convince the world of US benevolence is doomed, at least as long as the current team is responsible for US foreign policy, because the current team simply doesn’t do benevolence. Bush doesn’t care, and he doesn’t care who knows it.