February 11, 2003

Anti-Americanism Worldwide Is Surging, What

Anti-Americanism Worldwide Is Surging, What To Do?

As an American living in Britain and travelling frequently around the Eurozone and CIS I can attest to an alarming rise in the degree of anti-Americanism as the conflict with Iraq looms. This anti-U.S. feeling is often butressed by an irrationality that is shocking in its scope even to one accustomed to such rants. Whether chats with the proverbial cab rider in the 16th in Paris or lawyers in Yerevan, Armenia; German Daimler-Chrysler managers selling their cars in the CIS or money managers in the City of London the theme is usually that we are in it for (pick one) a) the oil, b) because W is a religious nut (or Texan gun-slinging cowboy), c) Americans are still hurting after 9/11 and just want to "kick more butt" to feel better, or d) all of the above. Note: Choice D often appears the most popular answer.

Iraq's WMD-capability is never mentioned. Powell's presentation of February 5th to the UNSC is widely mocked and derided as, at best, circumstantial evidence. And this is just in Europe and the former Soviet Union. We know the view of the U.S., in the vast Islamic world spanning from Jakarta to Tangiers, is even dimmer. Conspiracy theories of Washington/NYC in bed with the "Zionists" coordinating closely their next strategic moves in the "region" is common chit-chat or imam-speak. Asia? Deep down, probably a majority of South Koreans want to re-unify their peninsula, perhaps in possession of nuclear weapons, and kick the Yanks out soonest. And many Chinese (including highly educated university students), as their Internet chat-rooms showed on September 12th, 2001, were not shedding many tears at the death of thousands of Americans on 9/11.

So we certainly have a problem. We are puzzled, fearful, angered at why large swaths of humanity dislike or detest us (or our government). We need to address and mitigate this problem. Yes, we do need to show more humility as W said during the 2000 campaign in the execution of our foreign policy. We need to make attempts to go the multilateral route more often than not. As Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel is fond of saying, "we need friends."

All this said, however, we cannot become captives to multilateralism when so much of this anti-American attitude simply stems from resentment of the U.S. based on other countries relative powerlessness. We cannot abdicate our responsibilities to ensure a more stable international system in the face of fecklessness and obstruction from leaders like Schroeder who fan the flames of anti-Americanism simply to remain in power. We must defend the integrity of the U.N. by ensuring Resolution 1441 is enforced--not made a mockery of by inserting more U.N. inspectors.

That said, we need to make some changes. We need to deliver our "message" with more humility, with less of an "us against them" undertone, and we must press more forcefully to solve regional disputes like the Israeli-Palestinian imbroglio. Such actions will help us make some headway in stemming the alarming tide of anti-Americanism. But these actions should never come at the expense of abdicating our leadership role in attempting to stem the growth of WMD capacity by rogue regimes and quashing global terrorist groups.

Posted by Gregory at February 11, 2003 03:03 PM
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