how the world sees america

World to America: Listen to Us

Pakistan-Rock-Concert.jpg

World opinion surveys show Brand America slipping. “So what should America do to improve its image in the world?” a few worried Washingtonians wondered over coffee,

The group fired off their own solutions: Elect Obama. Stabilize Iraq. Expand public diplomacy. Democratize the Middle East. Solve Israel-Palestine. Increase foreign aid…

But none of them mentioned what I’d put first on my list: Listen more closely to the world.

I remember lounging on Pakistani rocker Mekaal Hasan's futon in August, listening to John Coltrane. “I’ve performed with American artists across Pakistan,” he said, as part of U.S. Embassy outreach tours aimed at improving its image. "But I’ve never been given a chance to perform in America...to show the real face of Pakistanis.”

To him, this imbalance is representative of broader relations between the two countries. He says America used Pakistanis to fight the cold war and now the war on terror without really "working with us."

Mekaal's view of America is "very unfavorable," and he’d likely appear as one of those anti-American dots on the Pew Survey. But he still considers America the “Land of Opportunity” -- once you get inside its borders -- and he dreams of making a global name for himself as a crossover artist one day. Moreover, Mekaal wholeheartedly shares America’s ambition of stopping al-Qaeda violence. His concerts have been canceled across Pakistan because of terrorist bombings. "Look, Pakistanis are on your side in this....We’re the ones having to face the bombs, man!” he says.

Polls show even while views of the U.S. have slipped toward the negative worldwide, support for some American-backed objectives -- like curbing new nuclear powers or softening religious extremism --have actually increased.

“Anti-Americans” are “pro-Americans” too, Mekaal reminds me. Either label is too facile; they become meaningless.

"American Dreams" can live inside people who profess to hate America. Whether it's a record deal for their band or a career choice for their kids, the expanded possibilities the Dream represents are appealing. And like Mekaal, many of the people I spoke to in Part One are eager to share their dreams with Americans.

Right now Mekaal feels caricatured by the U.S. as the terrorist foe. But with such high stakes he's not giving up, pressing U.S. representatives to let him come perform on the DC mall. He wants the two countries to work with, not in spite of, one another. And for that to happen, he says, it would help if "I could sing to Americans too."

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Comments (73)

An Individual:

America is not very popular with the rest of world, that is true. I myself am from Slovenia (stuck somewhere between Italy, Austria and Croatia) and I can understand the sentiment towards America.

It is believed to be short-sighted and as such sees only own interests - even then mostly short term interests.

We all know that the global pollution is a concern; the CO emissions are growing and need to be curbed. However, as far as I know, US have been undermining any efforts to cull the emissions, while Europe has been busy working towards the proposed goals. US continues to ignore the emissions, well, to be frank, so do China and other industrial countries, so Europe and other 'enlightened' countries feel like jackasses. For now, the money rules the world; screw the future generations, they can buy canned air with the money we earn now.

That is only one example.

I myself am aware that there are great people living in America, that they are trying to make a change, however unfortunately the money still rules the world, not common sense.

It is the same elsewhere on the world.

Darden Cavalcade:

13571113

Thank you.

davidrushworth:

13571113

Thanks for the kind words. I try.

I do not attack Americans for the sins of their ancestors. Pots should not call kettles black.

Most Nations have skeletons in their cupboards which they are reluctant to disturb or to be reminded of.

As to your comments on anti semitism I can only speak as I find. It does of course exist in my country but it is something that I have not personally come across or that I have ever met amongst my acquaintances. It is marginal and widely condemned. Whether it is more common among "elites" I do not know - my contact with "elites" has been slight.

I will never forget the things I was told by my uncle about Bergen Belsen. I will never understand how one human being can do such things to another. But I am sure that it starts with people being taught to hate.

My best wishes to you.

Bob T:

Thanks, 13571113.

13571113:

davidrushworth; Bob T; Darden Cavalcade:

Gentlemen (and Lady?),

Thank you for an interesting exchange of views. I have three points to add to yours.

1) I am impressed that David Rushworth is a genuinely decent man. The kind of friendship his represents is one that Americans ought not lose no matter how offended they may be by the kulturkampf waged against American society and culture. The criticism of culture is, I think, what Darden Cavalcade finds so offensive and has counterattacked with a broadsword.

The American posts on this site roil with anger. Perhaps it is righteous. I can't explain why so many of America's traditional friends have chosen to remind it of the sins of its ancestors when so many of those ancestors and sins are shared. Perhaps Europeans are no longer your friends and you share far less than Australiaview believes.

Or perhaps American anger is misplaced and should be directed where it will do more good. Europeans may irritate, but they are not the source of your current distress.

2) I am a Russian Jew. My parents and I left the Soviet Union in the 1970s. We lived for ten years in Europe and then emigrated to Canada in the late 1980s. I can testify personally of anti-Semitism in Europe. I have heard the term "East Coast conditions" (in Germany) and far worse. I have read *Uncouth Nation,* recommended (and rejected) above, and based on my experience I judge its conclusions about European anti-Semitism to be accurate.

3) Every Jew on earth knows that "America is different" and bears a burden of complaint for its hospitality to Jews at home and support for Israel abroad. Darden Cavalcade is correct when she points out that anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism are linked globally. And Bob T is right to ask what Americans get out of their relationship with Israel.

Nothing but grief, Bob T. Nothing but grief. And still they are steadfast. Remarkable.


AustraliaView:

In reading these posts I get a sense that a few of the Americans who post here immediately seem to translate a view of America into "criticism" and then it is morphed into "Anti Americanism" This is too much of a leap, particularly when it is leveled against other western democracies. Some of the most heated arguments occur in families and between friends but the basis of family and friendship are so solid that the argument doesn't affect that relationship which endures.

While it is true that there are countries which could be put into the Anti American basket such as North Korea et al it should be noted that they hate us too or at the very least they hate our liberal western ways.

It is odd that Europe has been thrown into the Anti American basket in some of these posts. Do you really think Europeans hate Americans? Have you seen all the American products that sell well in Europe or how interconnected EU and US companies are, particularly in the areas of financial services and manufacturing? Have you been to poor, non western countries where the kids are wearing baseball caps, US branded T shirts and watching American movies?

I think we need to be clear to separate the rhetoric of some governments from the reality on the ground. Some of posts almost have a siege mentality that Anti Americanism lurks everywhere. It is a very broad brush with which to paint the world and Europe in particular. I don't think it is helpful.

However we may feel about globalisation it is a fact. Harking back to the good old days of isolation doesn't make sense when US companies depend on call centers and software programmers in India and beyond.

How did we go from a discussion about branding, which I see in purely marketing consumer perception terms, to a discussion of Anti Americanism? The American brand is important because a good brand is good for business. American corporations have their brand but also carry in some portion Brand America.

So a positive perception of Brand America is good for American business and assists in opening up new markets or maintaining market share . I would venture that American corporations are very concerned about the positioning of Brand America in the minds of consumers around the world because it relates to their bottom line and the shareholders they answer to.

Additionally, how a population may feel about the current Administration is not exactly aligned with Brand America which I perceive as only marginally less robust than it used to be. It would only require a little marketing spin and the brand will be as strong as ever. It could be as simple as a change in style rather than substance.

I don't doubt that the US has the intelligence and resilience to turn this around in the same way that the US has overcome other temporary blips in its history. It is unwise to underestimate the ability of the US to adapt, change and bounce back stronger than before. Anyone, who thinks that this is somehow the "end of the American empire" hasn't read US history.

Andre from DC:

darden cavalcade

NEVER apologize to these Euro-peckerheads. If they can't take the truth about the way Americans feel about them, so be it. They've earned it.


davidrushworth:

darden cavalcade

You, after reading a book, obviously know more than I about the country in which I have lived for the last 62 years.

I think that I will trust my experience over your book.

As for your declared hatred I, like Bob, will have to learn to live with it. It is obviously very important to you.

As for myself I shall refrain from hatred for people I do not know.

Sincerely, you have my best wishes.

Bob T:

"Israel is involved in Iraq, Bob. Without fanfare and vitally."

Really? How? I'm surprised I haven't noticed anything about that in The Jerusalem Post or Ha'aretz, or anywhere else, for that matter. I look forward to being enlightened. Mind you, doesn't seem to be doing much good, whatever they've been contributing.

"And I apologize for expressing hatred toward you."

Thanks - appreciated.

"Is the Rosetta Stone a stolen object?"

It probably is, but there's no point in judging the effects of history by the standards of today. Are you proposing to hand back most of the US to what's left of the Native American nations, or does your earlier comment that there were no Americans before 1619 mean that they don't really count?

Of course, I recognise that's not what you meant - your point about extermination starting under the Crown has some weight - but it's illustrative of the American trait of holier-than-thou sanctimony which relates, I think, to one of Bakshi's original arguments.

Darden Cavalcade:

davidrushworth:

May I suggest a book? "Uncouth Nation: Why Europeans Dislike America" by Andrei Markovits.

Markovits is a European immigrant to the United States, a Jew, a leftist, and a professor. His book describes the origin, development, and current state of European attitudes toward America, Americans, Israel, and Jews.

If the views in my post aren't something you recognize about your own society, then Markovits may/may not help you see things in a new light.

With best wishes.

DC

Darden Cavalcade:

Bob T:

Israel is involved in Iraq, Bob. Without fanfare and vitally.

And I apologize for expressing hatred toward you.

May I ask you a question about something I posted earlier?

Is the Rosetta Stone a stolen object? How does it make you feel when you see the patrimony of other nations claimed by force of arms and displayed as your own?

davidrushworth:

To say that you hate a nation is no different to saying that you hate a religeon, or a race, or a class.
It is to condemn a whole group of people not for what they do but for what they are.
It is the same as judging Albert Einstein as "a Jew", Nelson Mandela as "a negro", Tolstoy as "a capitalist"
It is the same method as used by Stalin and Hitler to demonise whole categories of human beings and thus make their persecution and extermination acceptable.
While I may hate a man for what he does (not for what his ancestors did), I cannot hate a nation.

Bob T:

"And, Bob, I wonder if you know that the creation of Israel was the work of the United Nations supported throughout by the government of the United Kingdom."

Dunno about 'supported throughout', Darren. The British, exhausted by six years of war, finally gave in to the terrorist campaign waged by the Irgun, later to become the government of Israel. I note you haven't actually answered my question about why Israel is never criticised as one of the US 'allies' who didn't actually support you with men or materiel during your latest imperail venture. Any comments on that?

"Yes, Bob, we hate you."

Ah well, I'll just have to live with that.

davidrushworth:

Darden Cavalcade
"How could civlized Europe, advanced Europe, require the help of an inauthentic culture and swaggering people?"

I am not a member of any elite, but simply a retired civil servant. I was born in 1945, so grew up in the aftermath of the war. I do not recognise the stereotype of my country that you describe. After the war and today we felt an enormous debt of gratitude to those nations that fought with us in defence of our common values. Many thousands of Americans died in that war to win us all the freedom that we enjoy today. Why should I feel resentment towards those whose parents and grandparents fought alongside my own in a common cause?

"Ever hear anyone in the UK worry aloud about "east coast" conditions emerging in Europe."

No. This is the first time I have come across the phrase. Why should we espouse an ideology which we spent so much blood and treasure to destroy?
Yes, of course there are anti-semites in Britain, as there are in your country. But they are as despised and marginalised by the vast majority here as I am sure they are in the USA. We do not have such short memories. We remember what such irrational hatreds can engender. My uncle visited Bergen-Belsen in 1945. He suffered nightmares to the end of his life.

I have always admired Americans - their vitality and passionate love of freedom. It saddens me to see some of the feelings expressed in this thread. You may be assure: I do NOT hate Americans.

Darden Cavalcade:

Bob T:

When Wilberforce began his campaign against the Atlantic slave trade, he offended British commercial interests as well as American. The British began the slave trade across the Atlantic. In 1619, when the first African slaves arrived in North America, there were no Americans.

And the Indian extermination in North America began under the British Crown. The British Army destroyed the Northeastern Tribes during the French and Indian War. The rest we did on our own.

And, Bob, I wonder if you know that the creation of Israel was the work of the United Nations supported throughout by the government of the United Kingdom.

You are right about one thing. We shouldn't bash the Turks over the slaughter of Armenians.

We should be reminding Europeans of 500 years of conquest, slaughter, imperialism, and the enslavement of millions. We should be asking men in Scotland if they have ever visited the British Museum in London and felt the slightest twinge of guilt for the archeological and artistic treasures stolen from scores of cultures not their own.

When I see the Rosetta Stone, I see the property of Egyptians not the British. When I see the stone murals of Assyria and Babylon, I'm reminded of only one British accomplishment...theft.

Don't presume to talk to us about religion. Europeans know only one god, self-interest.

Yet, there is a bright hope for all. Every New Year's Day there are fewer native Europeans than there were one year earlier. Keep up the good work.

Yes, Bob, we hate you.

Bob T:

"American support for Israel reflects the only genuine special relationship the United States has abroad. Europeans (I include Canadians here, Bob, the last European colony in North America) have never appreciated the close link between political and religious freedom in American political philosophy." - Darden

I don't believe many Americans realise that the rest of the world, particularly Britain, does actually recognise this rather strange, one-sided 'special relationship' with a state implanted on a region that didn't want it. What we're wondering is what the US gets out of it. We know some of you genuinely think you have to support God's chosen people otherwise you won't make it to Heaven, but allowing this to inform your foreign policy for fifty years to the obvious detriment of the welfare of your citizens .... Still, maybe that's just more manifest destiny.

"Scarcely a European country can escape the stain of prejudice and mass violence against Jews. But not the United States."

True, but you have your own dubious history with Native Americans and slavery. That's why smacking the Turks for their historical treatment of Armenians strikes the rest of us as another example of US hypocrisy - you assume that the standards the US holds the rest of us up to don't apply to you. The world admires the best of America and 'Americanism', but we're getting a bit bored with the idea that you know what's best for the rest of us.

MidaFo:

P.S.
And do this, not because it is good for your image, but, as a post above says, because it is the right thing to do.
And if so, you are with us, not against us.

MidaFo:

At last it is said. Many of us have been waiting a life time to hear it.

Yes! Listen! It is so simple really. But study the multitude of American comments about diplomacy and all you get is to the effect of 'We must make our message more clearly'. The story of the British, who simply spoke English more loudly when the locals did not understand, is relevant.


The truly serious consequence is that propaganda, the tool of war that is as stupid as war, is regarded by almost all Americans to the 'highest' levels, in academia and government, as a tool of diplomacy: you know the natives out there are not very clever so slip them a little lie and they will be more compliant, and if you sing it they will love it.

What is not made sufficiently clear in this article is how terribly stupid America looks while it behaves like this.

America has a serious problem while finds this, which is so simple, so difficult.

Darden Cavalcade:

davidrushworth:

"Over-paid. Over-sexed. And over here."

Yes. I mean to say that British elites, among others in Europe, have detested America and Americans for centuries, David. The New World's attraction to the European immigrant represented cultural norms turned upside down, and the American revolution the political world turned upside down. The fact that the UK, France, Holland, Belgium had to ask for American help twice in the last century to save them from conquest did not endear us to you. How could civlized Europe, advanced Europe, require the help of an inauthentic culture and swaggering people?

And since the second world war anti-Americanism has been linked with Europe's oldest sustained prejudice, anti-Semitism. Ever hear anyone in the UK worry aloud about "east coast" conditions emerging in Europe...an acceptable reference in polite European circles to supposed Jewish control and influence in American society being exported to civilized Europe.


Bob T:

[Possibly relentless US support for Israel has something to do with the link between anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism.]

American support for Israel reflects the only genuine special relationship the United States has abroad. Europeans (I include Canadians here, Bob, the last European colony in North America) have never appreciated the close link between political and religious freedom in American political philosophy. You've never understood the American protestantism isn't like the one found in Europe. Protestant churches in America are local institutions, not national. And from the beginning American Christians welcomed and accepted Jews. In the 19th Century, American boys were more likely to have the names of Old Testament prophets than Christian apostles. Scarcely a European country can escape the stain of prejudice and mass violence against Jews. But not the United States. As scholars of anti-Semitism have written repeatedly, and accurately, "America is different."

Bob T:

"Since World War II, anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism have been conjoined in the minds of the extreme left and extreme right, particularly in Europe. If you don't believe me, consult the report of the European Union's investigation of the growth of anti-Semitism in European political discourse." - Darden.

Possibly the relentless US support of Israel has somenthing to do with that? BTW, why does the criticism of supposed allies who didn't get involved in Iraqi Freedom (sic) never include Israel? Surely it's about time you got something back for your $3-4 billion pa investment?

Mike:

3 European powers absolving themselves of imperial guilt by re-writing history. For all the talk of American colonialism, we all know that it was the European empires that screwed everything up. Putting the blame on America spares Europeans from facing the fact that it was they that cynically exploited the Middle East, South Asia and the Far East and created the conditions that exist today. I won't even go into Germany love of America-Nazi comparisons.

4 The media's liberal and anti-American viewpoints poison the debate. The world media does a miserable job of informing people. It suits a variety of needs (ideology, sensationalism, laziness) to just say "America bad".

Pew's surveys demonstrate that Americans hold our media in contempt, a little reported fact for obvious reasons. Perhaps it is time that the "media listen to Americans". I'll start holding my breath.

Mike:

Amari, slice the data however you want, but it is clear that most countries dislike other countries as much or more than they dislike America. Kind of looks like most countries hate their neighbors and America. (Kind of like how most baseball fans dislike their team's division opponents and the Yankees.)

The world press has taken a cynically one-sided view of the phenomena, choosing to view it as a symptom of American failings. For all of the pretense of intellectual rigor, your blog has never addressed other contributing factors to poor American approval numbers. For instance:

1)Nobody likes a hegemon. One could make the argument that America could employ Switzerland's foreign policy and still face criticism due to its power and wealth.

2) World leader fanning anti-American sentiment for political gain. Recent reports in he NY Times detailed how Germany officials publicly decried military options against Iran in public, but gave tacit approval in private. Putin recently scolded America harshly in front of the media, yet everyone agreed that the meeting was cordial in private.

Amar C. Bakshi:

Mike, relatively speaking, that same Pew Survey shows America is disliked more broadly than any other country. Point taken that the world these days isn't buddy-buddy anywhere, but these numbers do show specific, and surprising trends for Americans.

Darden, solid point about world view of America being widely divergent, and so the need to listen to each in turn. And also strong argument about media presenting the rest of the world to America: there are certainly headlines, the question is how to infuse other American media with pieces of the world, and that is largely driven by interest. These days, as in the early 80s, we're getting a lot more films that deal with international issues in one way or another. The point you raise is good: it matters what people are interested in first. What is out there with no audience isn't the most effective to say the least...

mike s:

George P: "The bottom line is that America has no friends that we can rely on when things get tough."

Well, there's Turkey...oops.

davidrushworth:

George P

Davidrushworth said: "Just don't bother calling us when Putin comes rollign into Europe or starts extorting with energy. Frankly, I hope he does."

I didn't - Abill said that.

George P:

Davidrushworth said: "Just don't bother calling us when Putin comes rollign into Europe or starts extorting with energy. Frankly, I hope he does."

Well said!! The Europeans at large have completely left us hanging in Iraq. They have bailed and chosen not to participate. The British - our #1 ally for decades - are abandoning Basra, exposing our southern supply line, and leaving chaos in the wake. In Afghanistan the Germans put convenient national caveats on their participation in anything remotely related to fighting. Fine. But that goes both ways.

There has been little to no committment or public expenditure from the Euro socialist utopia towards things like defense and as such Europe's responsibility to our fellow global citizens is a royal sham. Why else is Darfur allowed to disintigrate into chaos and genocide? Why else were the Balkans allowed to do the same before the US arrived on the scene? Why else could Europe only muster a handful of choppers to provide relief to earthquake torn Pakistan? So instead what do Americans get? Well we get blamed of course. We get blamed for Darfur. Blamed for a lack of response in Pakistan. Blamed for Rwanda. Blamed for terrorism (convenient excuse - that it's our policies which cause jihadists to murder scores of people rather than their wharped inability to adapt to modernity).

It's time for America to wake up, throw off the yoke of this twisted Euro narcissism, and instead turn towards Asia - at least the Asians practice capitalism. Ask Microsoft what it's like to do business with the EU - a joke. If you're competent and effective and start to win you get punished - just brilliant. The entire European enterprise is rotting from within - whether militarily, economically, politically, and especially demographically - and it's time we focused elsewhere.

The bottom line is that America has no friends that we can rely on when things get tough. So either we do it on our own recognizing that we have no friends - or else we disengage and leave the rest of the world to fend for itself. The world can learn to deal with the Russians and Chinese this time.

ABILL:

davidrushworth:

You are darn right it isn't. Stabbing your "friends" in the back doesn't engender warm feelings.

The Post needs to start giving voice to Americans attitudes towards the world, instead of just constantly harping on the converse.

We know all to well that you dont like us. The word needs to get out that we don't like you either.

davidrushworth:

Abill

"Just don't bother calling us when Putin comes rollign into Europe or starts extorting with energy. Frankly, I hope he does."

Nice to see the "hatred" is not all one way.

abill:

davidrushworth:

You miss the point. Our problem is with the unrelentingly one-sided nature of the debate. The American media is flooded with articles moaning about Europe's opinion of America and declaring America solely resposnible for the rift. Those of you in Europe also wrire exclusivley of how the rift is exclusively America's fault.

Perhaps if more people in the Europe viewed the breakdown in Euro-American relations as more than just America's fault, we wouldn't be so offended. This doesn't even take into account Europes complete denial of responsibilty for the current status of the world. Europe's empires are what created the mess in the Middle East, but you want to lay it all at our feet. Frankly, we really don't need more "friends" like the Europeans. Just don't bother calling us when Putin comes rollign into Europe or starts extorting with energy. Frankly, I hope he does.

Mike:

One of the points that anti-American propogansists like Bakshi ignores is that countries have a tendancy to have negtive opinions of each other as well.

As the following graphic indicates, as much as the Asian powers dislike America, they seem to like each other even less.

http://pewglobal.org/reports/images/255-1.gif

Of course, American liberals want to act as if the rest of the world loves each other, and that we are some kid of exceptional pariah. The truth that folks like Bakshi don't want to acknowledge is that the fact that foreign countries don't "approve" of America is consistent with their disapproval of everone else.

JRLR:

Give me a break wrote: "Over the past 60 years, because of this country and its immense generosity (second to none I might add) there is less poverty on this planet than ever before. On average the standard of living has risen sharply for all peoples of this planet. Now that people have food in their bellies like never before ... they don't like us for helping them get there; our way. We as a country are not perfect, but we have done the best for ourselves and for the rest of the world. ... What would these people's lives look like if not for America?"

Whenever I read statements like the above, come to my mind the following statistics out of the UN's Human Development Reports: "The income ratio of the one-fifth of the world's population in the wealthiest countries to the one-fifth in the poorest countries went from:

3 to 1 in 1820,

to 10 to 1 in 1900,

to 30 to 1 in 1960,

to 60 to 1 in 1990,

to 74 to 1 in 1995."

That "we have done the best for ourselves" seems obvious to me.


davidrushworth:

Darden Cavalcade

I am British. Are you really suggesting that we have a long history of hatred for the USA?
Did we hate you in 1918 (WW1), in 1944(WW2) in 1950 (Korea), in 1991 (1st Gulf War), in 2001 (Afghanistan) in 2003 (2nd Gulf War)
British and Americans have fought together for nearly 100 years in defence of our common beliefs.

The USA is, like it or not, the sole remaining superpower. It's policies affect in one way or another everyone on earth.
But if we dare to criticise or suggest that you may be wrong then we are just "America haters".

Darden Cavalcade:

Michael Kelley & Amir Bashi:

Gentlemen, listen to what the world is saying?

The world does not speak with one voice, ever. And to suggest that it does is preposterous. Do you really mean to suggest that Pakistanis and Indians; Turks, Greeks, Kurds and Armenians; or the Irish and British speak with one voice and mind when they wish to communicate with the United States?

And the idea that "the media" don't carry foreign news is perhaps the most ridiculous comment ever to emerge from the Bashi File. Go to the periodicals section of a regional library fellas! The smallest of them will carry "media" dealing with general and specialist topics in international affairs...many of them written by non-Americans for the benefit of interested readers of all nationalities. Heard of the Internet? You can find the on-line version of every major American daily newspaper...all of which have international/world affairs sections. I won't bother to name the foreign press on-line editions published in English expressly for the purpose of communicating with audiences like those found in the United States.

The United States is Mr. Big. It's a great comfort to many to criticize the United States because of its supposed power and influence. Anti-Americanism, by which I mean unthinking hatred of America and Americans...not opposition to specific policies, has a long tradition among elites in Europe and foreign elites educated in Europe. Asians and Latin Americans attending European universities can feel a rare degree of social inclusion when everyone is ranting against the United States.

Since World War II, anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism have been conjoined in the minds of the extreme left and extreme right, particularly in Europe. If you don't believe me, consult the report of the European Union's investigation of the growth of anti-Semitism in European political discourse.

There are millions of people who have every right to hate America...Guatemalans, Vietnamese, Iraqis. Pakistanis and Europeans aren't on that list.


Mike:

Bakshi, any chance you might do a post about what we Americans think of the world and what the world should do to get in our good favor?

Or is the point of your blog to just find other people like yourself who want to blame America exclusively for the world's problems?

George Patton:

I am so SICK of the world pointing the finger our way and lecturing America. You say listen to the world - I have yet to see the world listen to us. Look no further than the utter shock and disbelieve when Bush won a second term. The world couldn't fathom that. Why? Because you don't listen to what we're saying!!! Got news for you - America isn't New York, the Northeast, and California. Our values differ from these places 180 degrees. Frankly, I think America has just about HAD it with the rest of the world's fickle condescension. In many ways, Americans are now the new Jews of the 20th century... You hate us - message heard. Now listen to us:

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=70a_1188074004

George P.:

I am so SICK of the world pointing the finger our way and lecturing America. You say listen to the world - I have yet to see the world listen to us. Look no further than the utter shock and disbelieve when Bush won a second term. The world couldn't fathom that. Why? Because you don't listen to what we're saying!!! Got news for you - America isn't New York, the Northeast, and California. Our values differ from these places 180 degrees. Frankly, I think America has just about HAD it with the rest of the world's fickle condescension. In many ways, Americans are now the new Jews of the 20th century... You hate us - message heard. Now listen to us:

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=70a_1188074004

Amar C. Bakshi:

Goodmorning form DC. This is an interesting Pew graph:

http://pewglobal.org/reports/images/247-3.gif

Mike S, you raise the point that 'listening' may just be a code word for acting the way others want. Clearly substance matters over style, but to what extent is style valuable, and is listening a style. This chart perhaps speaks more to substance. Anyway, thought it'd be of interest.

davidrushworth:

CORRECTION

"June 1940 and June 1941 when Hitler declared war on the USA"

"USA" should of course read "USSR".

Sorry about that.

davidrushworth:

"We again watched as Hitler and Tojo came to power and waited for the world to act. Again nothing. So, we were forced to take the lead as best we could."

Sorry but I can't let this one go.
The USA entered WW2 in December 1941.
Britain and France declared war on Germany in 1939 and between June 1940 and June 1941 when Hitler declared war on the USA Britain was the ONLY country fighting Germany. (and, in the same period, had suffered about 40,000 CIVILIAN deaths.
Europeans acknowledge a debt of gratitude for the part played by the USA in WW1 and WW2 but resent it when Americans ignore the contributions and sacrifices made by other nations in these conflicts.

As to whether other peoples "hate the USA", from reading comments by some Americans they interpret any criticism of US policies as demonstrating hatred of Americans.
Not so. A true friend tells you when you are wrong. To do otherwise is NOT friendship - it is sycophancy.

Bob T:

I won't even go into how the mechanisms by which we would "listen" to you (email, telephones, television, Internet) were invented by us in the first place, since I'd hate to make you seem so...ungrateful.

So Americans invented phones and tv? No wonder we're so ungrateful here in Scotland ....

PC Madness:

To start, Microsoft (on behalf of America) Must listen to the rest of the world and FIX THIS UNSTABLE THING called Windows!

The rest will follow.....If Windows and Coke are the symbols of America, we must first reconcile the image in practice......

Are you listening Bill Gates?

mike s:

People who say they want Americans to "listen" are really saying that they want America to act in the way that they think it should. Well, take a number and get in line. I'm still waiting for my own government to listen to me.

What would America hear if it were to listen? "If you really believed in (insert universal ideal here), you wouldn't be doing x or you would be doing y (in the self interest of the speaker)." Then the inevitable accusation of hypocrisy.

"Anti-Americanism" is still a useful concept. It is the inclination to blame America first for causing or not preventing every bad thing that happens on the planet. And it is widespread. "Pro-Americanism," on the other hand, is meaningless as the term is used here. It is the desire for opportunity and freedom. That's not pro-American; it's human nature.

Seems to me that outside the US, America is held up as an ideal, then reviled for not living up to that ideal. People who do this are living in a fantasy world. How's this for a new marketing slogan: "America. We're not perfect. Get over it."

Ronald Simmons:

How completely clueless... The responses here show just what kind of failure the American educational system has been. Before WWI and WWII this country wanted nothing to do with either war. We were isolationist, we didn't want to involve ourselves. Only when forced, did we get involved in the world's messes. Before each war we had virtually no military, only somewhat of a navy. We learned plenty from the rest of the world, that's why we spend billions of dollars on military preparedness, foreign aid, the IMF and world bank. We watched Europe's monarchies during WWI try and kill each other for nothing! We again watched as Hitler and Tojo came to power and waited for the world to act. Again nothing. So, we were forced to take the lead as best we could. Over the past 60 years, because of this country and its immense generosity (second to none I might add) there is less poverty on this planet than ever before. On average the standard of living has risen sharply for all peoples of this planet. Now that people have food in their bellies like never before and even have internet access, they don't like us for helping them get there; our way. We as a country are not perfect, but we have done the best for ourselves and for the rest of the world. If people are so heavily focused on America, you need only ask why these other countries use weapons of mass distraction, so that their own people can blame America instead of their own personal and governmental failures. Before we should ever listen to the rest of the world, how about proving that their own governments are actually listening to them first and that they and their governments are ready to act in a positive and constructive way, instead of the opposite, like using terrorism and violence. What would these people's lives look like if not for America?

Give me a break:

How completely clueless... The responses here show just what kind of failure the American educational system has been. Before WWI and WWII this country wanted nothing to do with either war. We were isolationist, we didn't want to involve ourselves. Only when forced, did we get involved in the world's messes. Before each war we had virtually no military, only somewhat of a navy. We learned plenty from the rest of the world, that's why we spend billions of dollars on military preparedness, foreign aid, the IMF and world bank. We watched Europe's monarchies during WWI try and kill each other for nothing! We again watched as Hitler and Tojo came to power and waited for the world to act. Again nothing. So, we were forced to take the lead as best we could. Over the past 60 years, because of this country and its immense generosity (second to none I might add) there is less poverty on this planet than ever before. On average the standard of living has risen sharply for all peoples of this planet. Now that people have food in their bellies like never before and even have internet access, they don't like us for helping them get there; our way. We as a country are not perfect, but we have done the best for ourselves and for the rest of the world. If people are so heavily focused on America, you need only ask why these other countries use weapons of mass distraction, so that their own people can blame America instead of their own personal and governmental failures. Before we should ever listen to the rest of the world, how about proving that their own governments are actually listening to them first and that they and their governments are ready to act in a positive and constructive way, instead of the opposite, like using terrorism and violence. What would these people's lives look like if not for America?

Neelima:

The true problem is that our common folk take the easy route and watch television shows that are easy on the brain and on one's emotions. They want to de-stress and not worry about un-related issues.

It would be nice if people used their local public library, and simply read newspapers such as New York Times or Washington Post, or magazines such as Time or Newsweek. But most folks are just happy to put their work day behind them, and attend to their family, and relax.

Educated people in poorer nations, depending on the resources available in a given country, usually have access to the local newspaper which may cover world events in some detail. Their lives are less complicated than ours.

However, the poor and illiterate of those nations have very little or no opportunity to learn about events within their own country, let alone the rest of the world. The uproars (in other nations) that we hear or read about are mostly from students or organized by some interest group, political or otherwise.

More of us (of stable economic means) should take our civic duty seriously, and follow the goings on in our nation's capital. We have little or no excuse for not using our resources, such as the public library (usually supported through our property taxes or some other tax vehicle) to widen our knowledge of the world.

AustraliaView:

Mr Bakshi.

Thank you for your response above. You stated "it begs the question of whether re-branding, whatever that is, means return to a prior brand, or the development of something new?"

I don't think it is possible or even desirable to return to a prior brand. However, I could envision the future branding incorporating elements of the past brand such as innovation, intelligence, strength, democratic ideals, entrepreneurial competence, likability etc. The future brand could also incorporate elements of resilience and the ability to overcome difficult obstacles to come out on top. This would be particularly the case once the US overcomes obstacles such a health care, the viability of Social Security, current economic difficulties and the problems of Iraq. The brand could be a powerful message of resilience which the US has shown before in its history.

I agree with Neelima that the brand could be reshaped and relaunched whether it is by a Democrat or a re-invented Republican party.

I don't agree with Rory that "listening to the world" so to speak is a sign of weakness. It could actually be a communication of strength. A nation confident with itself and its fortitude would actually project strength engaging with those who may hold different views. It can accept or reject those views but the act of engagement comes from a sense of strength and projects confidence.

Lastly, it was an interesting comment by Stephen Boyington that to perhaps many Americans foreign nations are semi fictional. I am not in a position to judge whether this is true but I would venture that America, due to its power and media presence around the world, is actually quite real in the minds of many of those outside the US. That is why the issue of "brand America" is quite an important issue.

AgentG:

Much of American self-absorption has to do with the economic reality that very few Americans can afford to travel abroad. When Americans do travel abroad, it is usually many destinations in a concentrated period of time, with a corresponding massive overhead on arrival, departure, travel--instead of really getting to know one single destination in depth. My feeling is that this was different generations ago, but perhaps it has always been the American elite who make it abroad for holidays.

It is just a different experience to immerse yourself in a foreign culture for a period of time. Americans have grown ignorant of what cultural differences really are, prefering more immediate entertainment and amusement to reflective and historical perspectives.

neelima:

Rebranding in our case would be just taking the collective wisdom of the past and present foreign policy experts, and incorporating the positives in one or several coherent polic(ies) at the level of foreign as well as domestic policy-making.

Call it a new version, as in the case of computer software.

Alex:

America has to work with totalitarian regimes like China, fascist regimes like Russia and North Korea. You have such a mish mosh of semi civilized repressive religious culturally diff countries yet we are expected to listen and hold the high moral ground. Do you side with the Turks or Kurds or Greeks ?. Support the Japanese/Taiwan or tremble at the Chinese. In the absence of a cold war enemy which we all disliked, we are pulled in so many directions. The nonsense that the left spews "oh , no one loves us and respects us anymore" as if that were ever really possible. Yep, if we reverted to a do nothing country with no impact in the world like Switzerland, everyone would love us.

Patrick Huss:

To Mr. Boyington:

I understand your frustration with the ignorance of many Americans and their attitudes about the rest of the world, but you paint with too broad a brush. There are over 300 million Americans and many, if not most, are not represented by Rory and his peers. The ignorant voices are often the loudest, but that doesn't make them the most representative.

Patrick Huss:

“So what should America do to improve its image in the world?”

America should do nothing to improve its image in the world. Nothing, at least, with that specific goal in mind. Instead, it should concentrate on living up to its own rhetoric about tolerance, freedom, human rights, and the other positive aspects of its propaganda. America should continue to provide the world aid - fiscal, charitable, medical, and so forth, and should be a progressive and engaged member of the international community. The US government should endeavour to return to the high ground on human rights and civil rights domestically, in order to have legitimacy when it confronts the worlds great abusers of these rights.

None of these things should be done with the stated goal of improving our image - they should be done because they are the right thing to do.

One can only hope that under these circumstances our image would improve, but realistically, in the end, our leaders aren't likely to make consequential decisions with our image as their primary concern. In their minds our image will always be less important than our power. At least we can find some hope in the notion that the two don't have to be mutually exclusive.

Stephen Boyington:

Mr. Bakshi,

In my opinion, you are very right in your article. Americans in general do not listen to the outside world, and many do not care to.

Our nation is large enough and geographically isolated enough that we don't need to interact with people of foreign lands to have a full life. We don't learn second languages. We don't travel across the oceans to see new worlds.

This allows us to exist in a simplified state where foreign nations are semi-fictional. We only see them on TV or in the movies. We believe whatever we are told, because we have no first-hand experience.

A pervasive nationalism inherent to most places is strong here. It finishes off any predisposition we have to seeing any situation through the eyes of non-Americans.

It is sad, but it is reality.

Rory's post on this thread is a great example of popular belief here: if you aren't American, you aren't worth a crap or worth my time to care about.

Redsun:

Rory, Listening to the rest of the world doesn't mean it has to change the country's actions in all ways. It would definitely have helped in not invading a wrong country and waste about a Trillion dollars on it while we are debating if we should spend 30 Billion to insure un-insured children and call it socialized medicine. Thats some BS and there is no excuse for the politicians to get away with it. If they do, there is no difference between the backwards dictatorships you mentioned and democracy here. We are as "backwards" as them with loud mouths and freedom to use it irrationally. Thats all.

A Handle a/k/a Bwana:

Here is the piece from October 2004 mentioned in my preceding post.

Thursday, January 13, 2005
Showdown For Democracy At Haj-ullaf
In celebration of the electoral victory of Mahmoud Abbas, also known
as Aba Daba Doo Mazzen, and in anticipation of the (no-they-will-not-
be-postponed) "elections" to be held in Iraq, or some portion
thereof, Bwana resurrects a piece written in October, just before the
short strokes phase of the US Presidential election.

I regret to inform you that since the US election is over, the
Complaint Department with respect to this piece is closed.

__________________________________

Breakfast with Bwana

October 24, 2004

SHOWDOWN FOR DEMOCRACY AT HAJ-ULLAF:


Nawab al-Khabari, a Kuwaiti journalist traveled to New York to work
on a story he was doing for Kuwaiti television. He met three
naturalized American citizens at the Haj-ullaf Conference Center at
the Permanent Delegation of the Organization of the Islamic
Conference (see www.oic-un.org) in United Nations Plaza.. Hassan bin
al-Hsub and Abdul ud-Yrrek are Iraqi immigrants who have led
prosperous, if undistinguished, lives in Detroit, Michigan and
Madison, Wisconsin, respectively. The third American, Mohammed ur-
Redan, the scion of a Lebanese family is a former school teacher now
curator of the American Institute of Democracy Museum in Rittenhouse
Square in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Nawab did not hesitate to engage his invited guests in a
discussion of their views on American foreign policy and the upcoming
election. Needless to say, the two Iraqi-Americans were quite vocal
about the war.

Hassan bin al-Hsub grew animated: "My family was tortured by that
murderer Saddam," he said, using the former dictator's first
name. "He even tried to kill my father. And what was the crime of
my father and my family? Nothing ... nothing ... they were against
the merciless attacks on Kuwait by Saddam. In the name of Allah,
the Compassionate, the Merciful, it is the right of people to be
free. But not for the PIG. And make no mistake, by the witness of
the Prophet, blessed be his name, I do not care if he had no nuclear
program or chemical or biological weapons ... regardless, that
Saddam was really a PIG." al-Hsub spat on the ground as he uttered
the ultimate insult for one Muslim to another. "The world is well
rid of him. The Iraqi people will be free in the name of Allah.
And, for the American people, there can be no greater mission than to
bring democracy to the Arab world and peace for all people. I am
with the President."

Abdul ud-Yrrek, pulled up his shirt to display a scar. "I have
been in battle my friend. When the Americans first came to Iraq
under the father of this President and launched the Gulf War, I was
there ... it was before I moved to America. We fought against the
American helicopters with our rifles. I have shrapnel in my side to
prove it. By the Grace of the Prophet, praised be his name, the
Americans left and did not march into Baghdad. I was decorated by
Rais Saddam Hussein twice for my sacrifice. But then I went back to
Baghdad and spoke against the torture of the Kurdish women and
children in the North. Saddam who brooked no dissent, turned against
me. Now, I am an American citizen but I am uneasy that my country is
attacking my country. Yes, my brother, Hassan" he addressed al-Hsub
respectfully, "he the Pig was a PIG. But, in the name of Allah, the
Compassionate the Merciful, what threat was he to the Americans?
Everyday, I see on the television that people are being killed ...
hundreds of Americans but thousands of Iraqis. My cousins have been
killed. The Americans talk about terrorists and insurgents. My
cousins are not insurgents. They are poor people ... they have
nothing. They are not terrorists. If the American government had
listened to the French and the German governments in the UN, they
would have waited for the inspections. That would have shown that
Saddam had nothing. In America and in Iraq, we need schools for
education and hospitals and health care for the society. This war
will not bring such things but only give the terrorists another
reason to be strong. The war has killed more Iraqis than Saddam
Hussein killed in all the years he was the dictator."

Mohammed ur-Redan who had been in the background looked almost
shy when Nawab turned to him. At first, he seemed recusant. Nawab
pressed: "What do you think of the situation in Iraq?"

ur-Redan paused, pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped
his brow. "I am not an Iraqi. Yes, I am from a family with roots in
the Middle East, but I am American by birth. I hear the American
government leaders talk about bringing democracy to Iraq. But, at
home, we are a nation divided in two parts. It is not a democracy,
it is a demi-cracy." He laughed at his own weak joke, and then,
gathering himself, wiped his brow again and intoned: "If they bring
their kind of democracy to Iraq, it will be followed by corporations
who come to exploit the people and sell them cars that will pollute
their air. There will be special interest groups, the Shia and the
Sunni will split the spoils and exclude everybody else. If I were a
Kurd, I would be worried. I think this war is for the oil and the
big corporations. I have seen American forces in Lebanon, the
homeland of my ancestors. What democracy have they brought there?"

bin al-Hsub could not contain himself any longer. "No, no, you
do not understand the power of evil Those who do evil are evil
doers. We cannot wait for them to do evil to us. We must deal with
them firmly. The Pig Saddam had to go. I am grateful to America.
They are going to spend billions of dollars to reconstruct Iraq once
the fighting is stopped and my brothers will have the money of the
Americans for rebuilding and reconstruction so that there will be no
need for high taxes on the Iraqi people. That will stimulate their
economy and with the development of their resources, Iraq will be a
free country. I am happy that my new country America will do all
this for the Iraqi people and make it possible for other countries in
the Middle East to see the benefits of being protected by America and
democracy."

Abdul ud-Yrrek needed no prompting: "The Iraqis have no jobs.
We have destroyed the country and people have lost their jobs. They
have no hospitals and no health care,"

Nawab looked pensively into the camera. One could sense the
fatigue creeping over him. He had so wanted to capture the essence
of democracy for his audience back home in Kuwait. "So .... " he
paused, "you, bin al-Hsub, will vote for President Bush and you, ud-
Yrrek, will vote for the Senator from Massachusetts, John Kerry? bin
al-Hsub and Abdul ud-Yrrek nodded to signify their agreement. "And
you, ur-Redan, you will vote for neither?"

ur-Redan shook his head and said: "No, I cannot vote for them. One
is as bad as the other."

Nawab cleared his throat nervously: "If one of you votes for the
President and one of you votes for Senator Kerry, and one of you
votes for neither, how does this democracy work?"

"Ah, to know this, you must understand the electoral college," ur-
Redan said. "But, I warn you, they have hijacked the electoral
college so that only the big parties can win."

Nawab looked at the camera and said: "For you my countrymen in
Kuwait, next week, we will explain how the electoral college works to
make a divided country into a democratic one."

As the cameraman shut off the lights and put his equipment away,
Nawab asked of no one in particular: "Why didn't the Americans make
an electoral college in Afghanistan and Iraq?" Ur-Redan muttered
softly: "They have no judiciary to decide who will win."


----------------------------------------------------------------------
----------


For my readers:

The Organization of the Islamic Conference is real. Their Permanent
Delegation to the UN is in Geneva. The web site address is
authentic.

Haj-ullaf, Hsub, Yrrek, and Redan are "Fallujah" "Bush" "Kerry"
and "Nader" spelled backwards.

Some of you will have realized, by now, that "Nawab" is an anagram
of "Bwana."

Cheerz.....Nawab Bwana

© Copyright, BWB 2004

A Handle:

Mr. Bakshi

You have indeed gone off on many tangents - but isn't that reflective of both the fun and seriousness of trying to figure out the four corners of a complex square?

This love-hate dichotomy is perhaps an escape valve but look at the same phenomenon in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian issues. Many people will proclaim loudly "I am not anti-Semitic but I don't support the Israeli government's policies." Of course, there is a mix of escapism and genuine concern not to be viewed as bigoted there, but taken from the perspective of many American Jewish people, there is no separation allowable here.

So also, with many Americans, the George Bush approach of "Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists" becomes a simplistic binary on-off (1-0) switch.

You are quite correct that an outsider might perceive the government as reflecting the will of the people - in fact, we Americans are sold on the idea that this "democracy" reflects our will. However, I think that what most people fail to understand is that the American democracy to most people in the world is defined by who is President and not by the process of electing thousands of local legislators and governors, and 535 Congressional representatives and 100 Senators. I am going to paste a piece I wrote in October 2004 (ah the good old days - under my name "Bwana") on this perception of democracy. Perhaps it'll make you laugh ... and cry.

This response, mentioned in your comment is probably consonant with what we are saying:
"3) Americans are ignorant of the actions of their government, otherwise they'd do more to fix it."

It really is the same as saying that they love Americans but don't like their government - only one step beyond, in that there is a certain understanding that the American people can't do anything to change the policies of a "democratic" government any more than they can of their assortment of dictators, and all sorts of "-cracies."

So, I'm not sure that answer 3 leaves hope - maybe it's just empathy.

One big difference, of course, is that Americans do have the ability to change some things - as we speak up and make a lot of noise, people do listen even if they don't act immediately.

Going back to my comment about the Israeli-Palestinian issue, think about how different things might have been if 50 years ago, Israel had convinced the US, Saudi Arabia and other surrounding countries to cooperate in building an infrastructure for the Palestinians - housing, factories, schools, hospitals, roads, perhaps a university. My guess is that there would have been more prosperity for all, less bloodshed and who knows, no Iraq war.

I go back to my earlier point that we can have a paranoid foreign policy or a welcoming one. Some months ago, President Bush in Vietnam was reveling in how former enemies can be friends. So, Brand America worked fine there - but we won't talk to Cuba. Cuba! Never mind Iran ... but here is a dinky little Island with no threat potential (yeah, I remember Khruschev's missiles) and yet we won't talk to them.

The solution to all this is for America to view the world as full of friends who may be rivals but welcome rivals since we have a lot to give and take to and from each other.

Thanks for taking the time to respond.

Cheerz...Handle (a/k/a Bwana)

Amar C. Bakshi:

Australiaview and Helena, definitely appreciate your posts. After emailing with Nathan Gardels, he made a good point about the issue of branding: that the administration does it through style, and Hollywood does it through style. As for State Department branding or Madison Ave. consulting, it's a bit of an anthill by the mountain of news and Hollywood material outputted.

Branding is often trying to get a label out there. With America, the label is out there. Re-branding is different, and it begs the question of whether re-branding, whatever that is, means return to a prior brand, or the development of something new?

Amar C. Bakshi:

Tom, I really liked your post a lot, and it reminded me of the argument put out by Mohsin Hamid, the author of the reluctant fundamentalist. I haven't published my whole interview with him yet, but I wanted to just put a part of it below:

From an interview I conducted with Mohsin. He focuses on the idea of a democratic deficit:

There is a democratic deficit when it come to America. America shapes the lives of people in many countries, yet they have no say in what takes place in America. If there was a global election for what goes on in America, this is something many people would want to take part in.

America affects the lives of many people around the world. They have no way of inputting into the way America does that. If they could cast votes in the American election they would probably do that. Whereas no American or very few Americans would cast votes in the elections of Indonesia or Pakistan.

So that’s the first thing. There is a desire to influence a place that influences you. And the second thing is America’s movement away from multilateralism. If America had harnessed itself more to something that other people could influence, the UN or some other world government organization like the WTO on the trade side; if people had institutional mechanisms in their own country to influence the larger multilateral mechanisms through which America acted, to a certain extent the democratic deficit would go away. But in a unilateral America which feels unencumbered, there is great frustration in: Here’s this country acting on its own, shaping our country, without our being able to shape it.

It’s a bit like: Say you have the strongest, but in some way the most liked guy in your village and if he goes around bashing up criminals and helping out old ladies, you’re quite favorably inclined, but you’d much prefer they did it as part of some village government, especially if occasionally he runs amuck and starts bashing regular people who seem to have done nothing wrong. That’s the situation we have when it comes to America.

I will publish the interview in full on the site soon, but thought this related to your point well.

neelima:

I concur with AustraliaView that "brand America" can be reshaped and relaunched. Unfortunately, we will have to get a different administration. Whether it is a Democrat or a totally re-invented Republican, we will definitely need to convince the world that we are listening to, respecting and considering the world-view in our decision making.

Helena Montana:

Brand America. That's a big part of the problem, the American trait of seeing everything as a brand, something to be marketed. We have been so plastic, so ungenuine, and so tabloidized for so long that we have lost the capacity for critical thought. The result of this is the Cheney/Bush coup d'etat.

We are not happy about them but we do nothing to pressure our legislators to confront and impeach them. Not only does Congress refuse to deal with this dictatorship, they are actively aiding and abetting them to spy on our e-mail, our postal mail, our telephone calls, our reading material, and our bank accounts.

We know that these same legislators, whose salaries we are paying, sell access and votes. We know, especially since the 2006 elections, that what we want is of absolutely no interest to the people we elected. Yet we do nothing. I really despair for us.

AustraliaView:

Just as a branding example of what I wrote earlier and the different branding communication to a population of a city. I remember when Bill Clinton visited Sydney as President he went jogging in the Botanical Gardens. The communication was friendly, like us, jogs in the same park we do,is not afraid to been seen and among the people. When Cheney visited this year we had security lockdown and Blackhawks thumping low over our city at 2.00am. People complained of the noise. That is two very different communications. I know times have changed but the second communications felt like: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid. Something terrible could happen. Forgive me for seeming trivial but the perception, at least for me, was very different. I never associated America with fear and I honestly don't want to because I love and respect America.

Rory:

Give me a break. If we listened to the rest of "the world" (however you define that - presumably anyone who hates America), we wouldn't have done most of the things that made us a great country in the first place. There's nothing quite like being lectured by a bunch of backwards dictatorships and spineless European socialist "paradises" that makes me incredibly grateful to live in the US where we can debate without beheadings and, with a little hard work, exceed the various circumstances of our births. We don't listen to you because you're wrong.

I won't even go into how the mechanisms by which we would "listen" to you (email, telephones, television, Internet) were invented by us in the first place, since I'd hate to make you seem so...ungrateful.

AustraliaView:

It is true that the "brand" America has changed its resonance around the world. The brand does not communicate the same thing as it did under the Clinton Administration when I was living in the US. I honestly don't think the brand can be reshaped under the Bush Administration. Too much water has gone under the bridge for that. Interestingly, the "brand" China seems to have improved around the world. Despite the recent issues with quality I am very happy to have most of everything in my home made in China, particularly electronics.

The "brand" America can be reshaped and relaunched. The current situation is not terminal to the brand. Hey, I'm in marketing. Anything is achievable with the right positioning over time. I just don't think the current Administration is credible around the world to be able to do this but a new Administration could. I think the world misses the old brand America had and we want it back. America needs the world but we need America back too.

Tom Wallach:

While I agree that everyone should spend far more effort listening to the world around them, I am not sure that this is the primary issue. The United States spent 50 years ignoring everyone around it, and being far more sensationally arrogant and abusive of smaller nation states, and emerged out of that time as the champion of the "Free World." Our Foreign policy, in a theoretically Unipolar world, is actaully far more restrained because we have in many ways volunteered to be constrained, whether by domestic public opinion or foreign. While the ignorance of our population is tremendously sad, ultimately the US is far more tied down by its global responsibilities than it ever was before, primarily because there is no more "Evil Empire" to serve as both justification and threat.

Accordingly, the Brand Name is weakening because there is far less demand! our allies in thee struggle against communism, from Pakistan, India, China, Japan, to Germany, dont need us to defend them from the big bad soviet boogeyman, and with our increasingly globalized and wired global society, the foibles of American society are seen far more clearly than the once glowing attributes of our fabled "City on a Hill."

In the end, the weaknesses described as "not listening" are endemic to every society. People worry about their own lives. Since American's dont feel a threat from anyone except for anonymous middle eastern terrorists (not the truth, just the perception), they strike out blindly part of the time, and focus on American Idol for the rest. Since everyone else has no choice but to stare at the fairly silly American Collossus (and be a bit upset that we dont have a better idea of what we are doing) we become a focal point, as the power both behind, and with the power to fix, all of their issues.

The real key to restructuring and rebranding the United States is to do it within the framework of international law and organization. As John Eikenberry puts it, the United States needs to voluntarily constrain itself, and let "the lilliputians" tie down the giant with a million tiny strings. By voluntarily constraining our power, we reduce the urge to challenge it, and the assumption of direct responsibility. By re-immersing ourselves in NATO, APEC, ANZAC, the WTO and by pushing for more global security regimes, with stringent rules which a) limit and b) neccessitate action in clear cut ways (aka, not the UN, which is an atrocity of busybody and weightless politics), we can find productive and useful ways of excercising our power and status in a way that does not generate nearly such widespread resentment. This will be fundamentally neccesary if we hope to curtail the rising power of Authoritarian governments worldwide (yeah, i mean authoritarian governments. Terrorists are a threat to everyone, but not a great threat (unless you are in the middle east). China and Russia are threats to everyone, and quite large ones as well, unless everyone else has forgotten the damage nuclear weapons can do.)

Not to say we shouldnt listen however, but how is that going to happen. We have forgotten how to read.

Amar C. Bakshi:

Got a fabulous link on Hollywood and soft power via email from the editor of National Perspectives Quarterly, Nathan Gardels:

http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/06/14/opinion/edgardels.php
Argues that Hollywood needs to match global perceptions to stay afloat, and that politics can help kill the 'American mystique' of old-school cinema.

The next talks about how Hollywood is scrambling to keep up:
http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/02/23/opinion/edgard.php

Thought I'd pass these along...

Amar C. Bakshi:

Hi, 'Handle'.

I do agree largely with what you say, but I am confronted almost daily by the statement, "I love Americans, but hate the American government," and I wonder if this statement isn't a bit of an escape-valve for people, a way of ducking some of the implications of their feelings toward the American government, and what that says necessarily about their view of Americans. Here's what I'm thinking. And again, this is out of my comfort zone, I am no pundit or pollster, and some of this weeks posts are just stepping back trying to lay out some of the reasons I consider this endeavor important, but here goes:

If one believes in some form of America as a Land of Opportunity, and of relative freedom of choice, and believes there is something akin to genuine democracy going on here, then to some extent the government must reflect the will of the people. Not to say always, not to say all the time. But sometimes.

But if people have sustained foreign policy grievances with the U.S., which they do, it goes beyond just this current president, to some extent, then they must be asked how that squares with their view of America. If one asks, as I always do, if Americans have some say in their government, and therefore have some role in its actions, I get on of three responses:

1) The interviewee says, Americans don't choose. They're led by a few elite. It's Americans as victims.

2) The interviewee says, Americans are in line with their government, so I suppose I have hard feelings toward both.

3) Americans are ignorant of the actions of their government, otherwise they'd do more to fix it.

Answer one kills the American dream. Answer two paints us in an unkind light, and doesn't jive with how we see ourselves (largely as a force for the global good). But answer three leaves room for hope, and has been well-documented by pollsters like Bruce Stokes. So I lean toward that reading of the situation.

I agree that I have oversimplified things in this post. And in this comment I've probably gone on thirty tangents and needlessly complicated things. Regardless, I appreciate the time it took you to comment and look forward to your reply.

A Handle:

Mr. Bakshi

Perhaps well-intentioned, but this is really piffle. Mekaal cannot perform in the US and somehow this is the core of what we as Americans need to understand about the negative image of Brand America?

Actually, my reading and listening tells me it's more sophisticated. Most non-Americans will tell you that they love America and the American people (and we can toss those throwaways right out, no?) but that what they hate is America's foreign policy, what's perceived as it's "might-is-right" attitude, etc. Hard core Muslim funnymentalists will add that America is corrupting everything with its lack of morals and its crusade against Islam.

The simple - or at least simpler - truth is that without much need to do so, we (America as represented by its President whoever he has been - although more starkly evident since 9-11-2001) without a heck of a lot of reason to do so, have viewed much of the rest of the world as enemies instead of as just rivals.

Perhaps with the Soviet Union it was inevitable, but we see the same sort of stuff with Russia now. The Chinese seem to view others as rivals - of course, Taiwan and India may be enemies in some sense and there's not much room for a MAJOR enemy like the Dalai Lama!

India seems to have two enemies - Pakistan and China although with China there is a standoff of sorts and with Pakistan there is the ever-in-flux situation.

If we make a list of America's enemies - those whom we consider to be enemies, it is way too long when viewed from any standpoint of reason. If we make a list of those who consider us to be their enemies, the list is much shorter and perhaps that says something about those who hate America also loving it.

I said "simple" and "simpler" but obviously, it is a complex simplicity - surely, however, not anywhere close to the superficial stuff you've written about Mekaal.

No offense intended, but I think this subject - oft addressed by many and seldom understood needs more thorough exploration and exposition. Hence, my taking the time to respond to yours.

Be well.

PS - Some time ago, when I posted as "Anonymous" someone wrote and asked "Why don't you use a handle?" So, since I could post as Amir, A Handle is just a handle. ... Cheers

JRLR:

Amar, there is no sarcasm at all in what I have written: I mean what I wrote literally.

1. "“Anti-Americans” are often “pro-American” too..." -- THAT I CONSIDER IS A MOST IMPORTANT TRUTH.

2. "What an analytical tool that is, Amar, for a man in your trade!" -- I MEAN THIS LITERALLY: ONE OF THE MOST ORIGINAL WAYS TO ANALYZE ANTI-AMERICANISM, IN MY OPINION, WOULD BE TO FIND OUT (AND POINT OUT) WHAT PEOPLE LOVE SO MUCH ABOUT AMERICA THAT MAKES THEM REACT SO NEGATIVELY ABOUT WHAT AMERICA ALSO IS (SOME WOULD SAY: "HAS BECOME"). (Hence my: "What does X love so much, about America and Americans that makes X hate America and Americans?")

IN ESSENCE, I BELIEVE WE WOULD FIND ANTI-AMERICANS, BY AND LARGE, CONSIDER THAT AMERICA HAS SIMPLY BETRAYED THE VALUES IT CLAIMED TO STAND FOR AND THAT MOST PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD (SECRETLY, UNCONSCIOUSLY...) CHERISH... WHICH MAKES THEM, AT BOTTOM, MORE PRO-AMERICAN THAN PERHAPS MANY AMERICANS THEMSELVES ARE...

3. "X hates America and Americans BECAUSE X loves America and Americans! (Have you noticed it does not seem to work so well the other way around: X loves American and Americans BECAUSE X hates America and Americans? Must mean something!)" -- AGAIN, I MEAN THIS LITERALLY: THIS SEEMINGLY ONE-WAY PARADOX IS, PHILOSOPHICALLY, EXTREMELY MEANINGFUL IN THAT IT WOULD SEEM TO SUGGEST THAT LOVE, NOT HATE, IS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP. By the way, that would also account for the fact so many people just can't let go of America and of Americans, even after the worst has happened to them because of America and of Americans...

TO PARAPHRASE, AND AGAIN I MEAN THAT LITERALLY: "Hope SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE, SOMETIME, uses that paradox as an analytical tool on a few cases of anti-Americanism, just to see what comes out of that exercise."

Neelima:

It appears that the US v/s THEM mind-set of Americans may have been created by the competitive culture of American business and sports. I don't see significant examples of recognizing the second-best in our culture. Our culture encourages a mentality of Winners v/s Losers. There is no middle ground. If one seeks compromise, one is a "Namby Pamby", and that "No Guts, No Glory" is the norm.

Our parents and schools need to emphasize the team approach from Kindergarten on. But that is not likely to take root, as long as you have individual competitions that bring out the "Winner Take All" sentiment.

Our youngsters need to create a parallel ethic where the banner stating "Football team A SHARED the National trophy with Football team B" is considered GLORIOUS beyond compare.

But that will take many generations!

Amar C. Bakshi:

Michael, I think you state the problem very well. News highlights the big stories, but readers have to dig to get down deeper.

I imagine a future news service that allows you to do that more easily: by linking to international articles reacting to a key event, by collecting and vetting user-generated-media from around the world that presents another, extended eye on an event, both before and after the 'news' moment of the explosion, the arrest, or whatever else.

The interval is so quick, that even if depth is created, it is often well after the event, or had been created before so it's not current enough. The key is to overlap them and add significant 'depth' through links and multimedia for example, to bring you to human lives behind the news, and beyond the news.

I hope this site is a step in that direction.

As for JRLR, sarcasm is never appreciated! But I understand your point, and perhaps should have written in my claim a little more clearly: Anti-Americanism as an analytical construct is not terribly useful, because we see so much variation within that term. It sets up an us-v-them framework that doesn't hold for the vast majority of described 'anti-Americans,' and obscures as much as it tends to reveal.

Michael Kelley:

As a native born American, I try as hard as I can to listen to the world. And what do I hear? Silence.

I hear silence because American media do not tell us the truth about what is happening and what people are thinking and saying. I don't mean to say that they are lying. I mean to say that they rarely tell us anything at all. Far too frequently, what they do tell us is extreme or sensational, simply because the media believe that that is what we want presented to us.

Network news is limited to half an hour in the evening. Local news, maybe two hours in the evening, is still local.

Major newspapers skew things not just by the tone of the coverage, but also by the placement of the news. Front page articles always get more readers, and if an editor has a attitude about a topic, then it may get promoted or demoted to a different spot in the newspaper.

Another problem is that much of the world resents our culture being so pervasive, yet world media contribute to that by producing content that focuses on our culture as some kind of freak show. I have no idea why so many are so fascinated by so much pointless and shallow aspects of American life, but there it is.

Bottom line, though, is this: if I want to hear what the world is saying, I have to dig for it. I have to know what newspapers have English language editions. I have to know what countries produce English language broadcasts and web sites, and then I still must take the active step of seeking them out and examining their content. Papers such as the Daily Star of Lebanon, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Times of India, or The Hindu, all provide useful and fascinating information. Even Al-Jazeera now has an English web site.

Americans have to want to care about the rest of the world if we are concerned about how the rest of the world thinks of us. Otherwise, it's just an exercise of vanity.

JRLR:

"“Anti-Americans” are often “pro-American” too..."

What an analytical tool that is, Amar, for a man in your trade!

X hates America and Americans BECAUSE X loves America and Americans! (Have you noticed it does not seem to work so well the other way around: X loves American and Americans BECAUSE X hates America and Americans? Must mean something!)

What does X love so much, about America and Americans that makes X hate America and Americans?

Hope you use that analytical tool a few times, just to see what comes out of it.

Ali in Tehran:

That is a new one! America and listening to the rest of the world. It is a good idea, but that means a root-and-branch change of mind, mentality, intention, economic and business plan, social interaction, ......oh, I could go on and on!

There are massive industries and businesses, employing hundreds of thousands and generating lots of economic activity, taxes and "stuff" (like news shows on TV) that depend on the assertive, sensationalist, skewed, uninformed and similar challenges everywhere. What are they going to do?

And the irony is that the message from the rest of the world is really simple too: equal rules and treatment for every one. The rest will take care of itself, and it will generate more business, employment, taxes, etc...... but no one has the guts to take that bold step.

There is a bold example at a more rudimentary level and at a much lower level: WTO agricultural rounds at Doha.

Too bad, really! If there was one nation that is set-up to listen to different views, it was USA. But that has changed for the last decade or two.

The Oracle:

Yes,Americans.

Listen!

A government that uses reason and logic to guide them would also be a significant improvement.

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