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Anti-Americanism — Or Anti-Bushism?

Is the world getting fed up with the United States — or its leadership?

January 16, 2003

Is the world getting fed up with the United States — or its leadership?

Anti-Americanism seems to be back in fashion. That is nothing new — if you remember Vietnam in the 1960s. What is it that causes outrage this time? Our Read My Lips examines whether it is resentment of the world's last remaining superpower — or rather a general feeling of uneasiness about the state of the world.

What is the future for anti-Americanism?

“Anti-Americanism will become the global language of political protest — the default of ideology of opposition.”

(Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek columnist, October 2002)

Was it expected?

“Bush’s mere arrival in the White House is likely to be the best recruiting sergeant that the new anti-Americanism could have hoped for.”

(Martin Kettle, U.S. correspondent for The Guardian, writing in January 2001)

How deeply does some people's hatred against the United States go?

“I love Islam. I love Muslims. I love all human beings — except the Americans.”

(Terror suspect Nizar Trabelsi, November 2002)

Why should some anti-American remarks taken with a grain of salt?

“In Europe this summer, I encountered remarkably little anti-Americanism — but a great deal of anti-Bushism.”

(Martin Walker, UPI Chief International Correspondent, November 2002)

What could be the real motive for some of the current anti-Americanism?

“Scratch an anti-American in Europe, and very often all he wants is a guest professorship at Harvard — or to have an article published in the New York Times.”

(Denis MacShane, British Minister for Europe, December 2002)

Do people think the United States is too self-centered?

“Why do Americans seem to think that their lives are more valuable than lives outside their borders? This is what makes people so angry at the United States.”

(South African graphic designer, November 2001)

What is a common miscalculation about hate against America in the United States?

“The question obsessing Americans about the Muslim world was ‘Why do they hate us?’ But Muslims had long wondered the same about Americans.”

(Mark Hertsgaard, author and journalist, November 2002)

What makes Americans appear to be insensitive about other nations' sufferings?

“Every town in Palestine has its own Ground Zero — only we Americans don’t realize that.”

(Yvonne Yadbeck Haddad, Georgetown University professor, November 2002)

Why are Arabs suspicious about U.S. plans to oust Saddam Hussein despite his unpopularity?

“Everyone I know wants Saddam Hussein removed. Nobody I know wants the Americans to do it — because we believe they are the last people in the world who will work on behalf of Arab interests.”

(Rami G. Khouri, Jordanian commentator, September 2002)

What is the U.S. public diplomacy dilemma?

“Hatred of the United States is not justified. But it will not be eliminated by dropping bombs on the haters.”

(Chris Patten, EU Commissioner for external relations, October 2002)

What is special about German anti-Americanism?

“Anti-Americanism in Germany is very strong and not only on the left. It’s stylish because the United States is everything we hate to be — but know we are.”

(Michael Stürmer, Director of the Munich-based Research Institute for International Affairs, December 1994)

Why did anti-American rhetoric play a role in Germany's 2002 elections?

“Decades of anti-American propaganda by former East Germany’s communist government have left a mark on voters in the eastern states.”

(Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, November 2002)

Was it really anti-Americanism which swung the elections?

“This is not anti-Americanism if we disagree on an issue.”

(German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, November 2002)

Why did Germany's anti-Americanism cause so much furor?

“It’s easy to be anti-American. But remember when and where this alliance was forged: here in Europe, in World War II when Britain and America and every decent citizen in Europe joined forces to liberate Europe from the Nazi evil.”

(British Prime Minister Tony Blair, October 2002)

Is U.S. power really so politically and culturally overwhelming?

“I think it’s fair to say that many Filipinos are now resentful of superpower and supercop America’s attempts to impose its standards on the world.”

(Rodolfo Biazon, former Philipino military chief of staff, December 2002)

How does one of America's staunchest allies assess the situation?

“For all the resentment of America, remember one thing. The basic values of America are our values too, British and European and they are good values. Democracy, freedom, tolerance, justice.”

(British Prime Minister Tony Blair, October 2002)

Can anti-Americanism be self-defeating?

“We have discovered after two centuries that you can’t make a country out of anti-Americanism.”

(Jack Granatstein, Canadian historian, September 2000)

How could it have been?

“The United States must be proud and confident of our values, but humble in how we treat nations that are figuring out how to chart their own course.”

(U.S. President George W. Bush, during his 2000 election campaign)