Brian Birdnow

Early this past week the Associated Press previewed Secretary of State John Kerry’s Latin American trip by predicting that the Secretary would face a “Frosty” reception in Brazil and Colombia as he seeks to “deepen relations” with the two south American powers. Brazilian leaders are upset over the likelihood that the American NSA eavesdropping program may have targeted U.S. allies as well as foes, and that confidential Brazilian communications may have been compromised. The Colombians also expressed displeasure over the American intelligence gathering and charge that it overstepped the two countries joint intelligence operations against drug trafficking and terrorist activities. Secretary Kerry, for his own part, believes that the trip is vitally important in terms of shoring up our national image in the face of growing and increasingly vocal anti-Americanism in the southern hemisphere.

When one considers growing anti-Americanism in Latin America and adds it to the latent anti-Americanism in other parts of the world it is clearly unsettling. We see rising anti-Americanism in Egypt, continued jihadist sentiment in much of the Middle East and Central Asia, blatant provocations emanating from Russia, and the Chinese treating this Administration with a measure of disdain bordering on contempt. This clearly portends trouble ahead in the future.

Wasn’t this all supposed to end? We were told, and many Americans believed, that the election of Barack Obama, the candidate of hope and change, would restore America’s good name, and usher in a new epoch of international trust, co-operation, and goodwill. It wasn’t clear if this would happen before the sea levels dropped, or after everyone could pay their mortgages and buy new cars, but we were assured that it was coming. After all, the big problem in the world was the unnecessary American muscle flexing of 2001-2008 and the embarrassing bluster and swaggering of that damned fool Texan in the White House. Yes, George W. Bush had really made a mess of things, as we were told regularly by late night television jokesters, and most probably by a rodeo clown or two, at various state fairs.

When the new regime came into office in January 2009 they pledged that they would undo the damage caused by Bush and his Republican yahoos. Then –Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed that she would hit the “reset” button in relations with Russia, and so what if she garbled the translation. President Obama began his widely derided “Apology Tour”, wherein he begged pardon for America’s past misdeeds and bowed to foreign leaders. This was supposed to change everything.


Brian Birdnow

Brian E. Birdnow is a historian and teaches at a university in the St. Louis area.