WASHINGTON - July 12 - : More than 200 Americans studying abroad - including more than 30 Rhodes Scholars - have signed an open letter alerting their families, representatives and communities back home to the growing rift that the Bush administration's foreign policies are creating between America and the rest of the world. The letter notes that a number of the signatories voted for Bush in 2000 but now oppose his reelection, largely based on what they perceive as his reckless and damaging conduct in foreign affairs.
"We find it increasingly difficult to defend America against accusations that our country has misused its power," the letter states. "We witness daily how decisions that reinforce a perception of American arrogance are undermining rather than strengthening America's security goals and the safety of our citizens at home and abroad."
The letter was organized in association with Win Back Respect, an independent political campaign committed to rebuilding damaged relationships between the United States and the rest of the world. Their mission is to help educate the American public, and Americans living abroad, about the enormous costs of George W. Bush's go-it-alone approach and make the case for a change in direction and America's leadership in the election of November 2004.
The signatories of the letter include Republicans, Independents, and Democrats, most of whom are studying in the United Kingdom on Rhodes, Marshall, Fulbright, Rotary, Gates and other scholarships. These prestigious awards - whose winners include former President Bill Clinton, Senator George Mitchell, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, and Retired General Wesley Clark - have exemplified ideals of mutual understanding, respect, and cooperation between countries, allowing generations of American scholars and practitioners to live and study abroad.
"George Bush promised a humble foreign policy," the letter continues. "Some of us took him at his word and supported him in 2000. The Bush administration's approach has been anything but humble. The last three years have demonstrated the widening gulf between the tone of President Bush's campaign promises and the tone of his administration."
Included among the signatories who have changed their view on Bush are Tom Clifton, a student at King's College London who voted for Bush in 2000. He said in a statement: "The reports of post-9/11 European sympathy towards Americans are true
After 9/11, total strangers would approach us to express their sympathy and compassion
. Since then, the Bush administration has effectively burned our international bridges."
Also signing the letter was Army Lt. Anne McClain, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy currently studying abroad on a Marshall Scholarship. She noted that "people from other countries often seek me out, especially as an Army officer
I find myself defending policies in ways that I would not have had to five years ago."
And David Brogan, a Marshall Scholar studying at King's College London, said that while he is "a strong supporter of the Republican party," he has "found it increasingly difficult in my time over here to explain the actions of my government to my friends and coworkers
Even when our aims are true, our actions have been marred by what is seen as a swaggering over-confidence that inspires more hatred than respect."
The students' letter adds to a growing chorus of bipartisan voices dismayed by the Bush administration's handling of the war on terror and its disregard for the concerns of its allies. "A fundamental change must be made to the way our nation is led," the letter concludes, "if we hope to restore the United States' global standing and make our nation and the world safer."