As U.S. Struggles Financially, Adversaries Rise

America on the financial ropes presents a tempting target for its adversaries. North Korea is threatening to reactivate its nuclear program. Iran's leader inveighs against the U.S. at the U.N. and Russia is firing back at U.S. criticism of its actions in Georgia.

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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

America's role in the world was an unavoidable topic at the U.N. this week, because the world's leaders gathered there. It's an issue central to the U.S. presidential campaign as well. How should the White House interact with the rest of the world? Senior news analyst Daniel Schorr has been paying attention to the news from North Korea, Iran, and Russia. And he sees a growing and troublesome isolation from the rest of the world.

DANIEL SCHORR: America on the financial ropes presents a tempting target for its advisories. North Korea has announced that it's tired of waiting to be dropped from the American list of terrorism sponsors and is threatening to reactivate its nuclear weapons program. Iran has rebuffed efforts to check on its nuclear program, while its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, inveighs against the United States as a fallen empire before the United Nations Assembly. Russia announces that it will not participate in a meeting with the United States to discuss the Iranian nuclear program. The Putin regime is apparently still smarting over the American reaction to the war in Georgia. Presidential candidate John McCain then said, we are all Georgians. And Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in her speech that Russia has taken a dark turn and is on a path to self-imposed isolation.

If it was meant that Russia be cowed by these words from a faltering superpower, well, it wasn't. It fired back by buying an 8-page advertising supplement in The Washington Post. It featured an article which said that criticizing Russia may make us feel good, but it's unproductive. And it suggested that the United States stop trying to patronize or humiliate this proud Russian nation. If there is something a little condescending about these words from a country that two decades ago lay flat on its back, it may be that these days it is America that needs to worry about being isolated.

Vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, on her tour of world leaders in New York, spent more that an hour with Dr. Henry Kissinger, the retired world leader. Little has been said about what they discussed, but Kissinger's views are well-known. He believes that international stability depends on forging a working relationship with Russia and that no dispute over Georgia or anything should be allowed to interfere with that. Whether that will register with our presidential candidates remain to be divined, but clearly America's shaky relations with the Russians will be up for review in the next administration. This is Daniel Schorr.

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