Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A Skip Across the Pond

Well, I'm here in Scotland, St. Andrews to be exact, and finally plugged in. Regular blogging will continue and hopefully Woodshavings will get a more international taste as I'm exposed to more foreign media.

But if you didn't know, I'm here in St. Andrews to get a MLitt (Master of Letters) in International Security Studies. The benefits of studying International Security in the cold, damp environs of Northeastern Scotland you ask? Besides the international reputation of the program and the attached think tank, the UK system gets me my master's degree in one year. You can't beat that considering back across the pond you're looking at 18 to 24 months. Also, St. Andrews looks like it does a decent job in attracting an international study body. Consider this: within my living quarters I have a Brit, a Chinese, and an Indian all under one roof. So while I'm looking forward to raucous debates about America's role in the world, I know the conspiracy theories are going to abound more than drunk freshman.

I've already had a "fresher" tell me that while he loves the American people, he hates the American government, especially George Bush. Most of the table I was sitting at laughed and joked that I should open every conversation with "Hello I'm Matthew and I hate President George Bush." I have a feeling his sentiments are going to be quite universal. George Bush has done much to destroy American credibility and legitimacy worldwide. If the new generation of politicians and foreign policy experts don't labor to introduce a new rational foreign policy that draws strength from multilateralism and soft power, then the world will continue to applaud the barbaric jihadists as liberation forces a la the vile British MP George Galloway.

More evidence from campus that the U.S. is bruised and bloodied: the St. Andrews' Union Debating Society's first scheduled debate was "This House Believes that China Could Take on America." I didn't get to see this, but I do hope the argument was that China could realistically overpower the U.S., and not that it should. I'm not that familiar with the British tradition of debating, but I'm sure someone had to take up the should argument and it would have been interesting to see how he or she went about reasoning this through.

Nevertheless, Americans have a lot to do if we ever want to garner the same esteem we had after 9/11. It won't be easy, but it is necessary.