We’ll be hearing a lot about anti-americanism this week
since Pres. Bush will be visiting Europe. In their report on the subject, France2 news last evening had a report from a German village (pop. 2,000 or so) named Busch, where a few of the people thought the Pres.’s visit meant he’ll be groveling. Looks to me the people interviewed don’t share my opinion that Mr. Bush isn’t the groveling type.

But back to anti-americanism,The Economist writes,

Why, anyway, should America care if a bunch of foreigners dislike it, or affect to? Maybe, as a military and economic power without rival, it should not be too worried. Yet America needs the co-operation of other governments if it is to conduct trade, combat drugs, reduce pollution and fight terrorism. Moreover, Mr Bush is now committed to spreading “freedom” across the Middle East, indeed across the world. If foreigners, disillusioned with America, believe this is merely a hypocritical justification for getting rid of regimes he dislikes, the task may be harder. It is striking that Mr Bush’s 49 mentions of liberty or freedom in his inaugural address last month do not seem to have struck the sort of chord round the world that Jack Kennedy’s quixotic commitments did in the 1960s.

Shining city loses lustre
That may reflect the greater cynicism of the worldwide audience 40 years on. But the polls suggest it also has something to do with Mr Bush. Last month’s BBC poll found that opposition to Mr Bush was stronger than anti-Americanism in general, and that the particular had contributed to the general. Asked how Mr Bush’s election had affected their views of the American people, 42% said it had made them feel worse towards Americans.

That is the, perhaps short-term, view of some non-Americans. It is accompanied by another view, increasingly common among pundits, which holds that America is losing its allure as a model society. Whereas much of the rest of the world once looked to the United States as a beacon, it is argued, non-Americans are now turning away. Democrats in Europe and elsewhere who once thought religiosity, a belief in capital punishment and rank hostility to the United Nations were intermittent or diminishing features of the United States now see them as rising and perhaps permanent. Such feelings have been fortified by Mr Bush’s doctrine of preventive war, Guantánamo, opposition to the world criminal court and a host of other international agreements. One way or another, it is said, people are turning off America, not so much to hate it as to look for other examples to follow—even Europe’s. If true, that could be even more insulting to Americans than the rise in the familiar anti-Americanism of yesteryear.

Roger L. Simon has another perspective,

In the end, however, I think what Europe thinks of us is far less important than Asia — China and India particularly. They’re the future and, hey, the food’s not bad there either.

Jack looks at the current state of Europe,

Europeans have sacrificed everything — economic growth, freedom of contract, fluid labor markets, national sovereignty, their own fertility — all in the service of stability. It would be ironic if the greatest threat to that costly stability weren’t the United States with its muscular foreign policy and Darwinian economy, but the uncontested ascendency of Islamic fascism. Not that it makes a difference.

Mark Steyn (via Jack) is more blunt,

What does all this mean? Nothing. In victory, magnanimity – and right now Bush can afford to be magnanimous, even if Europe isn’t yet ready to acknowledge his victory.

Expect to hear much more on the subject in the upcoming days.

3 Responses to “”

  1. Sluggo Says:

    I have to think that ten years ago the Economist wouldn’t have surrounded the ‘freedom’ Bush is trying to spread throughout the Middle East with scare quotes. It’s still the best place by far to go for international news, but it has ‘evolved’ lately hasn’t it? I wish I had a ‘franchise’ on scarequotes. They seem to have gone through the ‘roof’ lately, ‘havent’ they?

  2. Fausta Says:

    Indeed they have (both the scare quotes and The Economist).
    I was going to cancel the subscription but The Husband wanted to keep it, and their science/business section are “still” good.

  3. TigerHawk Says:

    Thanks for the link, Fausta.

    I also read the Economist piece this morning (driving to and from Saddle Brook, I might add), and was very much struck by a glaring omission: Jean-Francois Revel’s thesis that anti-Americanism is derivative of the sympathy for communism that many in Europe and the Third World felt during the cold war. The green movement, the new Luddites, the opponents of American culture, anti-pharma activists and so forth just recycle impulses from Cold War era Marxism.