As President Bush arrives in China today for his first foreign
trip since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the US is experiencing a
surprising surge in expectations around the world for its role as
Much has been said about the enmity toward the US that lies
behind recent attacks on America. Anti-US protests in Pakistan
continue to worry leaders in Islamabad and Washington, and other
nations have seen pro-peace rallies with anti-US flavoring.
But, at the same time, many people around the world are feeling a
mix of sympathy for what America has endured, identification with
the US plight, and a positive impression so far of the military
Those elements are combining to boost America's image and raise
hope for its leadership in everything from reviving the global
economy to promoting Mideast peace and fashioning a better future
Mr. Bush seems to have grasped the importance of America's
opportunity for leadership, after beginning his presidency on a
footing that was widely viewed as unilateralist and dismissive of
A changed America is not going unnoticed: The mix of empathy and
hope for US success in the war against terrorism is prompting
people in different countries and cultures to view American
leadership in a new light.
Omar Belhouchet, editor of Algeria's prominent independent
newspaper El Watan, sees some silver lining in the "horrifying"
events of Sept. 11. Maybe now, he says, America will understand the
growing terror other countries have faced and will employ its power
to help vanquish the scourge of terrorism everywhere.
Pascal Reber, manufacturing director for a pharmaceutical company
outside Paris, says he is "relieved" to see the US taking a more
measured and multilateral approach in its war on terrorism than he
would have imagined from Bush. He now sees an opportunity for
American leadership on a range of global issues, from strengthening
democracy to shoring up the global economy.
And Marta Lagos in Santiago, a pollster of Latin American
opinion, says her recent surveys suggest a window of opportunity
for the US to assert its global leadership as it pursues the war on
terrorism. "People are frightened and are looking to the
industrialized countries, particularly the US, to do something
about it." But their first worry remains the economy, she says, and
many doubt that leaders can quickly do anything about it.
Following his own advice to Americans to get back to normal life,
the president is holding to his scheduled attendance at the summit
of the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Shanghai, China,
this weekend. (But he did drop three bilateral visits.) The trip
offers a venue to demonstrate that an afflicted global economy has
not been forgotten.
From sadness, opportunity
On several recent occasions, Bush has emphasized that the war on
terrorism provides the opportunities for America to take positive
action in the world.
Out of sadness, said Bush in one speech, America can "forge ...
an opportunity to bring peace to the world, the likes of which
we've never seen. …