When running for public office, it is customary to criticize the incumbent, especially if he or she represents the opposing political party. Such tactics can be advantageous, albeit opportunistic. But occasionally, like a misdirected heat-seeking missile, these fulminations can get confused and miss their target. So begins the 2012 possible presidential campaign of aspiring candidate and popular "birther," real estate mogul, Donald Trump.
Long before Trump was trotting out his stellar mercantilist credentials, he embarked on a crusade to restore America’s tarnished image abroad. But rather than lay blame for America’s decline at the feet of President George W. Bush, whose disastrous eight years drove us into the ditch we’re in, the aforementioned world of politics demanded Trump attack the incumbent: Barack Hussein Obama, whose relentless militarism makes him a carbon copy of Bush.
Last November, Trump told MSNBC’s Morning Joe,
Well, you know, I respect [Obama]; I like him; I think he is wonderful in many ways. I think he has not been good for business, and honestly, and very sadly, the world does not respect this country, and therefore I assume the world does not respect our leader.
Trump elaborated on those sentiments at this year’s CPAC convention, "[T]he United States has become a whipping post for the rest of the world. The world is treating us without respect. They are not treating us properly." In perhaps his most revealing interview, Trump told "Fox and Friends," “Let's face it. We are no longer respected the way we used to be respected, and if we keep going like this, within 10 to 12 years, China will overtake us easily."
Interestingly enough, the invasion of Iraq precipitated the diminution of American power Trump full-throatily laments. The quagmire may very well go down as one of the biggest strategic blunders in American history. In February, when CNN’s Piers Morgan asked Trump about his views on the Iraq War, Trump insisted:
Iraq did not knock down the World Trade Center…You could not be a terrorist and last a day in Iraq. Now it's the Harvard—it's the breeding ground for terrorists. I mean everybody that [sic] wants to be a terrorist they go to Iraq, they go to Afghanistan, they go to the places where we are. The fact is Bush I thought was not good. [Emphasis mine.]
Yet, when Bush was in office, Trump failed to decry America’s abysmal standing in the world. For instance, a June 2003 BBC international survey of 11,000 people in eleven nations found that 57 percent had a very negative view of America’s leadership. In some Muslim countries, when asked what was the greater danger to world peace, the United States rated higher than al Qaeda.
Perhaps Trump was lured by the collectivist siren calls of the "rally ‘round the flag" effect. But by the end of Bush's presidency, when his failure was obvious to liberals, conservatives (not neo-cons), and anti-war libertarians, a 2007 BBC poll of 26,000 people in twenty-five nations found that 49 percent believed America was playing a negative role in the world. A whopping 68 percent felt America's ongoing military presence in the Middle East provoked more violence than it prevented.