The following editorial appeared in Sunday's Washington Post:
One year ago the United States was the object of an unprecedented global outpouring of support and sympathy. The White House was inundated with phone calls from the presidents and prime ministers of friendly as well as not-so-friendly nations; thousands of people spontaneously marched through the streets or gathered outside the U.S. embassies in capitals on every continent. Some of the reaction was bound to be transient, but the Bush administration nevertheless seemed, after a bumpy start in international affairs, to have a chance to strengthen or even remake U.S. relations with much of the world. A year later it's worth reflecting on where in the world the administration has built those stronger relationships -- and where it has not.
Both lists could be debated, but the first -- those nations that have improved relations with the Bush administration -- would almost certainly include Russia, Pakistan, Israel, Uzbekistan, China, Yemen and, of course, Afghanistan. The opposite list, surprisingly but undeniably, would have to include much of the European Union as well as Mexico, Canada, South Korea and Japan. With the exception of Israel, the first group is made up of countries that previously had arm's-length relationships with Washington and were subject to heavy U.S. criticism for their lack of democracy or their abuse of human rights -- failings that in most cases have only grown worse in the last year. The second group, in contrast, consists entirely of democracies and close U.S. allies, nations that have the greatest interest in supporting America against its enemies. The emblem of the first group might be Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf, who a year ago was regarded in Washington as an unsavory dictator and today is embraced as a valued U.S. partner. The latter group might be embodied by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who last September joined a pro-American demonstration by 200,000 people in Berlin and this September has made opposition to the Bush administration a central message of his re-election campaign.
It may be that much of this outcome was unavoidable. The United States needed the help of Pakistan and Uzbekistan to wage war against al Qaeda and Afghanistan's Taliban regime, and it saw in the offer of assistance by Russian President Vladimir Putin a chance to transform relations with Moscow. Much-touted administration plans to upgrade relations with Mexico and Japan were bound to suffer as resources and high-level attention were redirected toward winning the war. And European leaders, such as Schroeder, bear a large measure of responsibility for the transatlantic tension.
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