A headline in yesterday’s Bangkok Post declared that Thailand is “slightly less corrupt” in 2008 than in 2007. It was eye-catching headline that highlighted the 2008 Corruption Perception Index, which was just released. Thailand ranks 84 out of 180 countries – could be better, could be worse. Again, this is based on a worldwide perception of various countries, something that is a very legitimate issue in such an interconnected world.
It was interesting (in a depressing sort of way) to find that the U.S. ranks 18th – in terms of developed nations, only France ranked worse, by one spot. It’s on par with what I’ve seen during my time out of the country. No one has a problem with Americans, but everyone, and I mean everyone, has a problem with our government. I’ve been told more than a few times that people just can’t understand how we moved from being a sort of naive but overall inspiring entity to such an aggressive, threatening one. Honestly, the rest of the world considers America to be a huge threat to the rest of the world. I know a Thai girl here that went to visit a friend living in Boston; she cannot get over how friendly people were! She literally was scared to go, as America is no longer perceived as a friendly or welcoming place to those who haven’t been.
We affect the rest of the planet in huge ways, and they are aware of it – you’d be amazed at how closely and how passionately these other countries follow what is happening in ours. I’ve had politicial and social discussions with Thais, Australians, Canadians, Brits, South Africans, Argentinians, Filipinos, a variety of Europeans – they follow our news much more closely than most Americans that I know.
They all feel sorry for us as citizens and, while I won’t use this as some political soapbox, I guarantee that there is not a foreigner out there who wants McCain. Rather, they are terrified that it could be McCain and it’s not uncommon for someone to ask for reassurance – surely there’s no way it could happen, is there? People are genuinely excited about the prospect of Obama, and I’d say most are more concerned about what happens in November than they are with anything happening in their own homelands.
I wish that more people could be personally exposed to the views of others, because it really makes you realize what an important issue world relations and perceptions are. It also highlights just how big of an impact we do make in such a huge world and that we seriously need to change some things. Hopefully next year we can do a bit better than #18.
Tags: America, corruption, election, government, politics, thailand, Travel