Attractiveness & relationships

When I was a boy and attended school, I had to read classic German 19th century literature just like all others. I remember a particular scene in one of these books - it describes how an Englishman comes into a German provincial community and despite his young age he's admired for he behaves as a free man from a free country and knows a lot about foreign countries that he had visited. That was very different to the behaviour of the local population which still lived in the remains of the feudal society.
The admiration of the author for this was obvious.

Free societies don't only have direct benefits for their citizens - they have also huge advantages when in contact with foreign people and all but the most dictatorial governments.
The western nations, including the NATO nations, enjoyed this attractiveness for several decades - will they continue to do so in the future?

The image of the western nations seems to transform from a bright and avant-garde area to a fortress that's used for many violent excursions into weak countries.

That's certainly less than attractive and might add to the list of enemies and shorten the list of friends and even allies.

The Grand strategy of the major NATO nations should be different and avoid such a picture.

There's a parallel to what's been said about political capital. In 1990 the USA built a coalition for a war against Iraq and gained an enormous amount of political capital by doing so for a cause that was considered righteous.
In 2002 the USA built a much less magnificent coalition for a war against Iraq and it did not gain political capital, but it went bankrupt in terms of political capital - it spent it all.

Many reactions to 9/11 , both originating from governments and originating from media or people themselves (like by such small things as comments full of hatred on YouTube) seem to worsen the reputation of the West in the world, sometimes right into evil ratings.

The fact that this originates from so many sources tells me that it's both a kind of zeitgeist and probably a primitive reaction. Don't misunderstand "primitive" - I don't accuse people of being primitive - the reaction seems to be rather obvious and not the result of deep, well-informed reasoning about the problem.

If this is a clash of civilizations, we're about to lose. Well, we're most likely not about to lose our own civilization, but rather our ability to co-operate with foreign powers and people. Imagine being a Libyan businessman with a great new product that you want to sell in the Western world. Great prospects? Not at all. Libya is too unsympathetic to us and trade with it even often limited by law. An Indian businessman would have much better prospects than a Libyan one with the same product despite the greater distance.

If we don't want to become unpopular or even outlaws for much of the world we should correct our stance and restrain from annoying them. We're sitting in this world together with about five billion other people, and their opinion about us is not unimportant.

To believe that we should pay regard to other's opinions would represent the mental state of a 16-year-old at best.

We should try to regain our attractiveness and regain trust, not demolish our relationships with others for the freedom to beat on some people who we dislike.

Sven Ortmann

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