About loss of soft power, I just came back from a visit in Kurdistan. I had a nice surprise waiting for me there, a lot of open minded people in that country while I was expecting the standard side-taking mentality of Arab countries. Among other discussions, they frequently tried to open the Gaza subject. At first I was reluctant to give my position on the subject, as I always refrain from talking religion, sex or politics in those countries. But, when I finally acknowledged to fall into the trap, I found to my surprise that they were not on Hamas side. Actually, most of them were blaming Hamas, not Israel, for the huge number of killed, their suicidal decision to push innocent civilians into locations previously announced by the Israeli army as targets.
This was a good sign of an open mind (not that they had to agree with the Israeli action no matter what, but at least they gave some space to logical and moral thinking instead of taking sides). And the same people that took advantage from the fall of Saddam and had these ideas on the Gaza situation surprised me again: “It is Bush and the Americans the terrorists now, not al-Qaeda”.
I wonder, how much of your credibility and soft power you have to lose to be called a terrorist by somebody that overcame his traditions and profits from your actions (think about the emotional gradient in such a person).
Mr. Bush, you lost it. Big time.