In the post-Bush era, the bottom line is blunt and simple, Dunleavy [a political scientist at the London School of Economics] said. "People all around the world are pretty worried," he said. "They want a president who will restore a kind of U.S. legitimacy in the world."
This from an article on how the world is "captivated" by the Presidential race in the US. Forgive me for taking offense, but just who is going to be the first to presume to judge the legitimacy of the United States. What has the US actually done? Attacked a country that harbored the terrorists who killed thousands in America and wouldn't turn them over? Removed a bloodthirsty dictator and gave the people a shot at ruling themselves? Negotiated with the North Koreans? Refused to commit economic suicide by signing the Kyoto Protocol which exempted China and India from the rules and regulations binding on developed nations?
Perhaps if the United States had illegally traded with Saddam despite the sanctions, pretending not to notice his manifold human rights abuses; sold nuclear fuel to the Iranians, accepting that an oil rich nation with a history of fomenting terrorism is going to use it for peaceful purposes; or taken advantage of an enslaved people by turning their country into a Disneyland of debauchery, then perhaps we might have maintained legitimacy in the eyes of the world.
It would be easy to dismiss their elitism and presumption, but it has consequences. When I read that the Sunnis describe their shift in allegiance as the "Anbar Awakening," I have to wonder how much of our bad press they heard and believed. Self-interest might govern our actions, but we have a heck of a lot more legitimacy than our so respectable detractors.