It’s always nice to be liked. Some liberals would have being liked the cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy. Liberal columnist Richard Cohen-no fan of President Bush and the Iraq war-nevertheless has the good sense to know that sometimes unpopularity just goes with the territory:

“Still, the chief reason for the cheering on 9/11 was U.S. support for Israel. Sometimes that support has been mindless and sometimes it has been over the top, but fundamentally it is based on certain truths. The first is that Israel is a legally sanctioned state, created by the United Nations in 1948 and recognized soon after by most countries, including — amazingly enough — those Cold War adversaries, both the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

“The second is that at least one Islamic state (Iran) and a host of militant organizations — Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and, of course, al-Qaeda — fervently wish Israel’s destruction. There is no way the U.S. could appease these groups and not, in the process, trample on its own moral values. Israel on occasion is wrong — and the settlements are an abomination — but its existence is right.

“Granted, George Bush and his calamitous war — not to mention his swaggering unilateralism — have made matters worse. It’s hard, for instance, to overstate the impact of Abu Ghraib in the Arab world. When a couple of years ago my driver in Jordan brought up the abuses at that prison, he became visibly upset. He was a college graduate who had been abroad — what might be called Westernized. Yet, the wanton contempt for Islamic and Arab sexual taboos was almost more than he could take. Soon, he had to stop talking. All in all, Bush’s presidency has been a teardown for America’s public image. The next president will have to start almost from scratch.

“But, in a way, America has little choice but to be hated in some parts of the world.”