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Column: New President Faces Old International Problems

This story was written by Kyle Nelson, The All State


Well, seeing as the great election is over, I would like to inform people about some of the great challenges ahead for our new president.

First, he will have to overcome the damage dealt to America's reputation during the Bush administration. After all, we did invade Iraq without approval of the United Nations, and at the protest of many European nations. And I'm not saying Saddam didn't have it coming, or that the UN doesn't deserve getting the shaft every once and a while, but to brazenly disregard the world arena does some damage to America's reputation. That's not to mention the presence of multiple "black sites" throughout the world that recently came to light last year, as reported by Newsweek. These black sites were used to torture prisoners on foreign soil, in places like Russia. Examples like this harm America's reputation. A poll conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2006 concluded Great Britain's opinion of us slipped from 83 percent approval to 56 percent. France was similar. They went from 62 percent to 39. In Germany, approval went from 78 percent to 37. Finally, in countries where our image really should matter, like Indonesia, it went form 75 percent to 30 percent. In Turkey, it went from 52 percent to 12 percent. This indicates serious damage done by the Bush administration, but this is only the tip of the iceberg.

The war in Afghanistan has been raging since 2001 and has now begun to reach a second wind, but this time it's worse. According to the BBC, we have been launching missiles via Predator drones based in Afghanistan into Pakistan, while also launching commando raids into the northern regions of Pakistan. Pakistan is a country attempting to stabilize as the civilian government solidifies control after years under military rule while trying to fend off the growing influence of Islamic radicals in their northern provinces. Currently, according to the Associated Press, the White House is vocally critical of Pakistan and its efforts to quell terrorism. These tactics only further the growing animosity between the nations. I can only hope Gen. David Petraeus' visit, on Nov. 2, has done some good.

The next president will have to deal with all the mess that is the Middle East post-Sept. 11. Now we live in a world where we can't just say let Israel do whatever they want, or ignore the Turkish conflict with the Kurds. Because of our troop presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, and because of the nature of Islamic terrorism, we Americans can't just ignore what's going on in the world. We need to be educated on the different crises around the world, because like it or not, we are the world superpower with a sphere of influence unmatched by anyone. So our actions as a nation reflect the attitudes of our citizens, as a whole, to the world. When we stand beside Israel when they starve a population of a million people in Gaza and say nothing, that tells the world a little about who we are - not just our leaders. When millions are chopped up because they're Hutu or Tutsi and we do nothing, we are judged. Whether we like it or not, as the world power we have a responsibility to help our fellow man, especially if they don't have the power to help themselves. So let's do that, or at least look to see what's going on and not limit ourselves to caring about how many games the Titans have won.

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