Ever since the Burdick & Lederer’s novel, The Ugly American, was published in 1958, American candidates to the White House and incumbent Presidents have had a chance to face numerous international problems as leaders who have to assume responsibilities attributed the world’s most powerful nation.
Nevertheless, time and time again, one President after another has committed quite a number of errors that have led to what the USA is today.
On the verge of next Tuesday’s presidential elections, incumbent President Obama and his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, have demonstrated that Americans have not wagged away the then Asian foreign vision of “the ugly American”.
On the contrary, today, American leaders are seen as “ugly” in continents other than Asia. In the last half century, one after another, the U.S. Presidents have blundered in international affairs in Vietnam & Cambodia, in the Caribbean, in the Middle East, in Africa and in Central & South America.
From Kennedy to Obama, all White House tenants have had their Achilles heel. Some succumbed to the temptation of playing God and ended causing civil wars or local ethnic cleansing.
At the crossroads of American supremacy, President Obama has not only failed to live up to expectations and to a moral commitment after being awarded the Nobel Prize in 2009, but also has selfishly closed himself into what he sensed was to be a battle for his continuance as President of the United States of America. He has, in many ways, taken as his own the very habits of what was described in the novel as “the ugly American”.
Regretfully, his adversary is no better off. Mitt Romney considers he is a self-made man who has amassed a fortune with his talents. Nevertheless, if he would look back, I’m sure he will have to admit to himself that he isn’t all that respectable a citizen as he wants to make voters believe. He too is “an ugly American” in the eyes of any foreign beholder.
At this stage of the 21st century with new technologies making communications go global with a click, U.S. leaders have seemed to remain stagnant in their 20th century ways of government and diplomacy; precisely those very same manners that worried John F. Kennedy when the novel was first published.
Neither Obama nor Romney gets even solid approval from their European allies. I feel, much less would they get it from the Muslim states that their policies have led into an irreversible permanent war.
The issue is that none of them have learned from their errors but worst still is that there being an opportunity to be once again the best, both Obama & Romney have decided to just make it to the White House next balloting day.
Who is the “uglier American” of the two?