Of the dozens of “Why They Hate Us” articles I’ve read since 2001, by far the most incredible appeared in last week’s L.A. Times. This version was courtesy of the fevered imagination of Julie E. Sweig, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. In her trademark blame-America-first format, Ms. Sweig ticks off the now familiar list of reasons why “they hate us.” Never mind that she doesn’t bother saying who “they” are. They never do.
Topping the list is the Bush Administration’s go-it-alone “tough talk” after 9/11. Apparently the other 19 countries — and NATO — that supported our efforts to root out the Taliban and Al Qaeda after 9/11 count for nothing. (If so, that’s reason to hate us right there.) In the Iraq War 49 countries publicly committed to the coalition. If that’s going it alone, exactly how many hundreds — or thousands — of countries does it take to build a coalition? Ms. Sweig faults the president for his tough-talking leadership after the terror attacks of 9/11. Perhaps she would have had Mr. Bush offer an olive branch to Osama bin Laden? Or a white flag perhaps?
The rest of the list is as predictable as leg hair on a feminist: contempt for Kyoto, the War in Iraq, secret prisons, Gitmo, Vietnam, pop culture, and globalization. America’s domestic policy comes in for a pummeling too: deteriorating public education, the response to Hurricane Katrina, soaring healthcare costs, widening gap between rich and poor. (Note to Ms. Sweig: Haven’t you forgotten the death penalty?) Had the authoress done her homework she’d have discovered that anti-Americanism — in Western Europe especially — has been around for decades, long before Katrina, Gitmo and the 2000 election.
It doesn’t take much research to discover what the world really thinks of America. For example, a 2006 Pew Global Attitudes poll found that only four out of 14 countries surveyed held a favorable opinion of the U.S. Three of the four, however, are liberal democracies: Japan (63 percent favorable), Nigeria (62) Great Britain (56), and India (56). Not surprisingly all five predominately Muslim countries surveyed held highly negative views. Of the remaining five countries France, Germany and Spain, understandably, continue to begrudge the U.S. its power, wealth, prestige, and influence, while China and Russia continue to flip flop, approving of the U.S. one year, and changing their minds the next.
ONE WOULD THINK that the EU has enough problems with alienating the world’s sole remaining superpower. But what better way to divert the masses’ attention from the ineptness of its leadership than by constantly harping on America’s faults: its greed, racism, imperialism and philistinism. In truth, the French, Belgians and Germans are far more racist than Americans and always have been. Anti-Semitic attacks are the highest they’ve been since Nazi days. Racism, and as a consequence, high unemployment, was a main impetus behind last year’s Muslim rioting. The EU’s social security system is about to go bust, which means more Muslim immigrants will have to be flown in in order to increase the number of taxpayers. Despite sucking up to Arab regimes, the EU remains under constant threat of terror attacks.
Such is our moral conscience across the waves. As the late Jean-Francois Revel pointed out in his 2003 book, Anti-Americanism, it wasn’t the U.S. that spawned fascist and communist dictatorships throughout the 20th century. So who are these people to judge?
How does the rest of the world genuinely feel about the U.S.? Despite a historical suspicion of gringos, polls consistently show that Latin America is overwhelmingly pro-U.S., and that was surveying the few Latin Americans that have yet to emigrate here. Australia and Canada are pro-U.S., as is much of Asia (even Muslim Indonesia), sub-Saharan Africa, Israel and all of Eastern Europe. Leaving aside Russia and China, which remain on the fence, about 80 percent of the world “likes” us. Speaking of Russia and China, how many Russians or Chinamen do you suppose would pass up an immigrant visa to the U.S.? How about none?
So who are “they” that “hate” us so badly? Granted a great many Arabs, Turks and Persians despise the infidel America. Even without the war in Iraq Arabs would abhor the U.S. for its support of Israel. (As an indication of how clueless Ms. Sweig is, she completely disregards our relationship with Israel as a cause of anti-Americanism.) France, Belgium, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands don’t exactly hate the U.S. Many of them, however, do hate free market capitalism, of which America is the standard bearer. But mostly their enmity is colored green with envy and resentment. Even Ms. Sweig admits this. “Power generates resentment,” she writes. If Mongolia were the world’s lone superpower Western Europeans would hate the Mongolians.
Should Americans be overly concerned about negative Muslim attitudes toward the U.S.? Unless we’re willing to toss Israel over the side Muslims will continue to hate America regardless of what we do. Meanwhile Old Europe should look to its own increasingly troubled front yard: its growing discontent among poor and fanatical Muslims, its increasing anti-Semitism, aging population and a soon-to-be bankrupt social security system, to say nothing of its over-reliance on U.S. security.
Useless idiots like Michael Moore and Julia Sweig may continue to apologize to those who hate America if they like. But, as the anti-war set likes to say, not in my name.
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