Feature

Grading the President

Editorials worldwide denounced the U.S. president for attacking Iraq. In Britain, The Financial Times deemed the attack “hard to justify in terms of international law, or any conception of a new world order.” In Jordan, Al Dustur called it a “cheap attempt” to divert attention from the White House’s failed economic plan. In Italy, La ...

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Editorials worldwide denounced the U.S. president for attacking Iraq. In Britain, The Financial Times deemed the attack “hard to justify in terms of international law, or any conception of a new world order.” In Jordan, Al Dustur called it a “cheap attempt” to divert attention from the White House’s failed economic plan. In Italy, La Stampa said the president “finds himself at the center of a domestic and international debate over his personality and his capacity for decision-making, in other words, his leadership.”

Harsh words for an American president. Or more specifically, harsh words for Bill Clinton. Those editorials were published following a U.S. airstrike against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in 1993. Ten years later, the international community waxes nostalgic about Clinton, often forgetting that during the early part of his presidency they routinely derided him as inexperienced, indecisive, and obsessed with the U.S. economy at the expense of global affairs.

Will the world learn to love President George W. Bush? As he enters the second half of his term in office, FOREIGN POLICY continues our long-standing tradition of asking noted contributors to grade the president and interpret the prevailing mood in their respective corners of the globe. Together, these commentaries — from nine regions and countries — form a mosaic far more nuanced than the familiar global caricature of Bush as a shoot-from-the-hip cowboy. While Bush’s “axis of evil” speech provoked scorn in Western Europe, the president found a sympathetic audience among East Europeans still traumatized by decades of dictatorial rule. South Asians and the Arab world resent Bush’s penchant for unilateralism, yet they confess a grudging admiration for his ability to advance U.S. interests. Even as Bush’s free trade policies have raised expectations for a better life in Latin America and China, his failure to liberalize immigration has left many policy elites desolate and embittered. Africa and Southeast Asia see Bush as a throwback to the Cold War, yet Russia, the United States’ former Cold War adversary, sees Bush as a pragmatic partner.

In the aftermath of the war in Iraq, Bush faces many crucial decisions about how the United States will engage the world. Judging from these essays, the world hasn’t quite made up its mind how it will engage George W. Bush.

THE GLOBAL SCORECARD

FOREIGN POLICY asked each of our nine contributors to grade U.S. President George W. Bush’s international leadership skills in nine categories on a scale of 0 (low) to 10 (high).

YOU GRADE THE PRESIDENT

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