In her interview with Charlie Gibson, Sarah Palin, when asked if it would be necessary for NATO to invade Russia to protect Georgia, plainly said "perhaps so."
I've been living in Buenos Aires for four years now and when I read that quote to a room full of guests, they burst into incredulous laughter. Judging from what I'm reading, this is how the vast majority of the other 6.7 billion people in the world (you know, those ones who don't live in the United States) now respond to American "saber rattling."
They know that the United States has foolishly over-extended itself militarily and if it were truly serious about defending Georgia from Russian aggression (a characterization far from universally accepted), its president (Bush) wouldn't have been filmed playing beach volleyball with a couple of Olympic babes and then going on yet another vacation during the "Russian invasion" of Georgia.
They know, when yet another generation of American politicians say for the umpteenth time that America has learned from its past mistakes (Chile, Indonesia, etc.), that it's just a matter of time before it embarks, overtly or covertly, on yet another stupid, unilateral misadventure (Iraq and now the possibility Iran or Russia).
They know, and teach to their students in history classes, about the more than 100 years of American-sponsored overthrows of various governments around the world; always with some stated purpose of "bringing freedom and democracy," but ALWAYS with some malevolent "other agenda" having to do with protecting very narrow American business interests. (Read "Overthrow" by Stephen Kinzer.)
They watch in horror as Americans throw up (literally and figuratively) yet another neo-conservative freak puppet show (now in the form of McCain/Palin) that displays such breathtaking ignorance and hubris. They wonder aloud "how can Americans be so stupid as to vote for them?"
They know first hand, even if the vast majority of Americans still have no idea, that this is par for the course.
The course, unfortunately, is the ever quickening spiral of America's reputation inexorably spinning down the drain of world opinion.
This week OffTheBus is publishing a variety of stories that cover the presidential election from an international perspective.