This morning on CBS, Sunday Morning’s Rita Braver interviewed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. In a portion of the interview that does not appear to have aired, Braver noted the results of the recent Pew Global Attitudes survey which found that “the U.S. image abroad is suffering almost everywhere.” Braver prompted Rice saying, “It has to be more than just a perception problem.” Rice dismissed the poll’s results, claiming that the Bush administration has “left a lot of good foundations”:
Q: Looking at the big picture of what’s the whole foreign policy of this Administration – you come out of the academic tradition so I think it’s fair to ask, what kind of grade do you give yourself and this Administration on foreign policy?
RICE: Oh, I don’t know. It depends on the subject. I’m sure that there are some that deserve an A-plus and some that deserve a lot less. … We’ve left a lot of good foundations.
Q: You know, you say that, but the Pew Global Attitudes Project released a new report very recently. On the very first page it says, “The U.S. image abroad is suffering almost everywhere.” … It has to be more than just a perception problem.
RICE: No. Rita, first of all, it depends on where you’re talking about. In two of the most populous countries, China and India, the United States is not just well regarded for its policies, but well regarded.
When pressed further, Rice responded by saying, “It’s not a popularity contest.”
While the U.S. is indeed well-regarded in India, Rice’s claim that the U.S. is “well regarded” in China is puzzling. The Pew Survey that Braver noted found that in China, the U.S. is viewed favorably by just 41 percent of the country. Similarly, just 30 percent of China has confidence in the Bush administration. A BBC poll from April of this year found similar results for many other nations around the world.
Overall, the Bush administration’s foreign policy agenda has seen few successes. U.S. influence abroad is predicted to decline over the next 20 years. The U.S. military is weaker now than it was five years ago, while the State Department is suffering from staffing shortages and low morale. The recent violence in Israel dramatically highlights the fact that Bush largely ignored the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
No matter how many times Rice repeats herself, the fact that the world does not look kindly on the Bush administration’s foreign policy record will not change.
Also during the interview, Rice would soon “start to thank this president for what he’s done.”