"America is everywhere," Italian novelist Ignazio Silone once observed. It is in Karachi and Paris, in Jakarta and Brussels. An idea of it, a fantasy of it, hovers over distant lands. And everywhere there is also an obligatory anti-Americanism, a cover and an apology for the spell the United States casts over distant peoples and places. In the burning grounds of the Muslim world and on its periphery, U.S. embassies and their fate in recent years bear witness to a duality of the United States as Satan and redeemer. The embassies targeted by the masters of terror and by the diehards are besieged by visa-seekers dreaming of the golden, seductive country. If only the crowd in Tehran offering its tired rhythmic chant "marg bar amrika" ("death to America") really meant it! It is of visas and green cards and houses with lawns and of the glamorous world of Los Angeles, far away from the mullahs and their cultural tyranny, that the crowd really dreams. The frenzy with which radical Islamists battle against deportation orders from U.S. soil— dreading the prospect of returning to Amman and Beirut and Cairo — reveals the lie of anti-Americanism that blows through Muslim lands.
The world rails against the United States, yet embraces its protection, its gossip, and its hipness. Tune into a talk show on the stridently anti-American satellite channel Al-Jazeera, and you’ll behold a parody of American ways and techniques unfolding on the television screen. That reporter in the flak jacket, irreverent and cool against the Kabul or Baghdad background, borrows a form perfected in the country whose sins and follies that reporter has come to chronicle.
In Doha, Qatar, Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, arguably Sunni Islam’s most influential cleric, at Omar ibn al-Khattab Mosque, a short distance away from the headquarters of the U.S. Central Command, delivers a khutba, a Friday sermon. The date is June 13, 2003. The cleric’s big theme of the day is the arrogance of the United States and the cruelty of the war it unleashed on Iraq. This cleric, Egyptian born, political to his fingertips, and in full mastery of his craft and of the sensibility of his followers, is particularly agitated in his sermon. Surgery and a period of recovery have kept him away from his pulpit for three months, during which time there has been a big war in the Arab world that toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq with stunning speed and effectiveness. The United States was "acting like a god on earth," al-Qaradawi told the faithful. In Iraq, the United States had appointed itself judge and jury. The invading power may have used the language of liberation and enlightenment, but this invasion of Iraq was a 21st-century version of what had befallen Baghdad in the middle years of the 13th century, in 1258 to be exact, when Baghdad, the city of learning and culture, was sacked by the Mongols.
The preacher had his themes, but a great deal of the United States had gone into the preacher’s art: Consider his Web site, Qaradawi.net, where the faithful can click and read his fatwas (religious edicts) — the Arabic interwoven with html text — about all matters of modern life, from living in non-Islamic lands to the permissibility of buying houses on mortgage to the follies of Arab rulers who have surrendered to U.S. power. Or what about his way with television? He is a star of the medium, and Al-Jazeera carried an immensely popular program of his. That art form owes a debt, no doubt, to the American "televangelists," as nothing in the sheik’s traditional education at Al Azhar University in Cairo prepared him for this wired, portable religion. And then there are the preacher’s children: One of his daughters had made her way to the University of Texas where she received a master’s degree in biology, a son had earned a Ph.D. from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, and yet another son had embarked on that quintessential American degree, an MBA at the American University in Cairo. Al-Qaradawi embodies anti-Americanism as the flip side of Americanization.
A NEW ORTHODOXY
Of late, pollsters have come bearing news and numbers of anti-Americanism the world over. The reports are one dimensional and filled with panic. This past June, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press published a survey of public opinion in 20 countries and the Palestinian territories that indicated a growing animus toward the United States. In the same month, the BBC came forth with a similar survey that included 10 countries and the United States. On the surface of it, anti-Americanism is a river overflowing its banks. In Indonesia, the United States is deemed more dangerous than al Qaeda. In Jordan, Russia, South Korea, and Brazil, the United States is thought to be more dangerous than Iran, the "rogue state" of the mullahs.
There is no need to go so far away from home only to count the cats in Zanzibar. These responses to the United States are neither surprising nor profound. The pollsters, and those who have been brandishing their findings, see in these results some verdict on the United States itself — and on the performance abroad of the Bush presidency — but the findings could be read as a crude, admittedly limited, measure of the foul temper in some unsettled places. The pollsters have flaunted spreadsheets to legitimize a popular legend: It is not Americans that people abroad hate, but the United States! Yet it was Americans who fell to terrorism on September 11, 2001, and it is of Americans and their deeds, and the kind of social and political order they maintain, that sordid tales are told in Karachi and Athens and Cairo and Paris. You can’t profess kindness toward Americans while attributing the darkest of motives to their homeland.
The Pew pollsters ignored Greece, where hatred of the United States is now a defining feature of political life. The United States offended Greece by rescuing Bosnians and Kosovars. Then, the same Greeks who hailed the Serbian conquest of Srebrenica in 1995 and the mass slaughter of the Muslims there were quick to summon up outrage over the U.S. military campaign in Iraq. In one Greek public opinion survey, Americans were ranked among Albanians, Gypsies, and Turks as the most despised peoples.
Takis Michas, a courageous Greek writer with an eye for his country’s temperament, traces this new anti-Americanism to the Orthodox Church itself. A narrative of virtuous and embattled solitude and alienation from Western Christendom has always been integral to the Greek psyche; a fusion of church and nation is natural to the Greek worldview. In the 1990s, the Yugoslav wars gave this sentiment a free run. The church sanctioned and fed the belief that the United States was Satan, bent on destroying the "True Faith," Michas explains, and shoring up Turkey and the Muslims in the Balkans. A neo-Orthodox ideology took hold, slicing through faith and simplifying history. Where the Balkan churches — be they the Bulgars or the Serbs — had been formed in rebellion against the hegemony of the Greek priesthood, the new history made a fetish of the fidelity of Greece to its Orthodox "brethren." Greek paramilitary units fought alongside Bosnian Serbs as part of the Drina Corps under the command of indicted war criminal Gen. Ratko Mladic. The Greek flag was hoisted over the ruins of Srebrenica’s Orthodox church when the doomed city fell. Serbian war crimes elicited no sense of outrage in Greece; quite to the contrary, sympathy for Serbia and the identification with its war aims and methods were limitless.
Beyond the Yugoslav wars, the neo-Orthodox worldview sanctified the ethnonationalism of Greece, spinning a narrative of Hellenic persecution at the hands of the United States as the standard-bearer of the West. Greece is part of NATO and of the European Union (EU), but an old schism — that of Eastern Orthodoxy’s claim against the Latin world — has greater power and a deeper resonance. In the banal narrative of Greek anti-Americanism, this animosity emerges from U.S. support for the junta that reigned over the country from 1967 to 1974. This deeper fury enables the aggrieved to glide over the role the United States played in the defense and rehabilitation of Greece after World War II. Furthermore, it enables them to overlook the lifeline that migration offered to untold numbers of Greeks who are among the United States’ most prosperous communities.
Greece loves the idea of its "Westernness" — a place and a culture where the West ends, and some other alien world (Islam) begins. But the political culture of religious nationalism has isolated Greece from the wider currents of Western liberalism. What little modern veneer is used to dress up Greece’s anti-Americanism is a pretense. The malady here is, paradoxically, a Greek variant of what plays out in the world of Islam: a belligerent political culture sharpening faith as a political weapon, an abdication of political responsibility for one’s own world, and a search for foreign "devils."
Lest they be trumped by their hated Greek rivals, the Turks now give voice to the same anti-Americanism. It is a peculiar sentiment among the Turks, given their pragmatism. They are not prone to the cluster of grievances that empower anti-Americanism in France or among the intelligentsia of the developing world. In the 1920s, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk gave Turkey a dream of modernity and self-help by pointing his country westward, distancing it from the Arab-Muslim lands to its south and east. But the secular, modernist dream in Turkey has fractured, and oddly, anti-Americanism blows through the cracks from the Arab lands and from Brussels and Berlin.
The fury of the Turkish protests against the United States in the months prior to the war in Iraq exhibited a pathology all its own. It was, at times, nature imitating art: The protesters in the streets burned American flags in the apparent hope that Europeans (real Europeans, that is) would finally take Turkey and the Turks into the fold. The U.S. presence had been benign in Turkish lands, and Americans had been Turkey’s staunchest advocates for coveted membership in the EU. But suddenly this relationship that served Turkey so well was no longer good enough. As the "soft" Islamists (there is no such thing, we ought to understand by now) revolted against Pax Americana, the secularists averted their gaze and let stand this new anti-Americanism. The pollsters calling on the Turks found a people in distress, their economy on the ropes, and their polity in an unfamiliar world beyond the simple certainties of Kemalism, yet without new political tools and compass. No dosage of anti-Americanism, the Turks will soon realize, will take Turkey past the gatekeepers of Europe.
WE WERE ALL AMERICANS
The introduction of the Pew report sets the tone for the entire study. The war in Iraq, it argues,"has widened the rift between Americans and Western Europeans" and "further inflamed the Muslim world." The implications are clear: The United States was better off before Bush’s "unilateralism." The United States, in its hubris, summoned up this anti-Americanism. Those are the political usages of this new survey.
But these sentiments have long prevailed in Jordan, Egypt, and France. During the 1990s, no one said good things about the United States in Egypt. It was then that the Islamist children of Egypt took to the road, to Hamburg and Kandahar, to hatch a horrific conspiracy against the United States. And it was in the 1990s, during the fabled stock market run, when the prophets of globalization preached the triumph of the U.S. economic model over the protected versions of the market in places such as France, when anti-Americanism became the uncontested ideology of French public life. Americans were barbarous, a threat to French cuisine and their beloved language. U.S. pension funds were acquiring their assets and Wall Street speculators were raiding their savings. The United States incarcerated far too many people and executed too many criminals. All these views thrived during a decade when Americans are now told they were loved and uncontested on foreign shores.
Much has been made of the sympathy that the French expressed for the United States immediately after the September 11 attacks, as embodied by the famous editorial of Le Monde‘s publisher Jean-Marie Colombani, "Nous Sommes Tous Américains" ("We are all Americans"). And much has been made of the speed with which the United States presumably squandered that sympathy in the months that followed. But even Colombani’s column, written on so searing a day, was not the unalloyed message of sympathy suggested by the title. Even on that very day, Colombani wrote of the United States reaping the whirlwind of its "cynicism"; he recycled the hackneyed charge that Osama bin Laden had been created and nurtured by U.S. intelligence agencies.
Colombani quickly retracted what little sympathy he had expressed when, in December of 2001, he was back with an open letter to "our American friends" and soon thereafter with a short book, Tous Américains? le monde après le 11 septembre 2001 (All Americans? The World After September 11, 2001). By now the sympathy had drained, and the tone was one of belligerent judgment and disapproval. There was nothing to admire in Colombani’s United States, which had run roughshod in the world and had been indifferent to the rule of law. Colombani described the U.S. republic as a fundamentalist Christian enterprise, its magistrates too deeply attached to the death penalty, its police cruel to its black population. A republic of this sort could not in good conscience undertake a campaign against Islamism. One can’t, Colombani writes, battle the Taliban while trying to introduce prayers in one’s own schools; one can’t strive to reform Saudi Arabia while refusing to teach Darwinism in the schools of the Bible Belt; and one can’t denounce the demands of the sharia (Islamic law) while refusing to outlaw the death penalty. Doubtless, he adds, the United States can’t do battle with the Taliban before doing battle against the bigotry that ravages the depths of the United States itself. The United States had not squandered Colombani’s sympathy; he never had that sympathy in the first place.
Colombani was hardly alone in the French intellectual class in his enmity toward the United States. On November 3, 2001, in Le Monde, the writer and pundit Jean Baudrillard permitted himself a thought of stunning cynicism. He saw the perpetrators of September 11 acting out his own dreams and the dreams of others like him. He gave those attacks a sort of universal warrant: "How we have dreamt of this event," he wrote, "how all the world without exception dreamt of this event, for no one can avoid dreaming of the destruction of a power that has become hegemonic…. It is they who acted, but we who wanted the deed." Casting caution and false sympathy aside, Baudrillard saw the terrible attacks on the United States as an "object of desire." The terrorists had been able to draw on a "deep complicity," knowing perfectly well that they were acting out the hidden yearnings of others oppressed by the United States’ order and power. To him, morality of the U.S. variety is a sham, and the terrorism directed against it is a legitimate response to the inequities of "globalization."
In his country’s intellectual landscape, Baudrillard was no loner. A struggle had raged throughout the 1990s, pitting U.S.-led globalization (with its low government expenditures, a "cheap" and merciless Wall Street-Treasury Department axis keen on greater discipline in the market, and relatively long working hours on the part of labor) against France’s protectionist political economy. The primacy the United States assigned to liberty waged a pitched battle against the French commitment to equity.
To maintain France’s sympathy, and that of Le Monde, the United States would have had to turn the other cheek to the murderers of al Qaeda, spare the Taliban, and engage the Muslim world in some high civilizational dialogue. But who needs high approval ratings in Marseille? Envy of U.S. power, and of the United States’ universalism, is the ruling passion of French intellectual life. It is not "mostly Bush" that turned France against the United States. The former Socialist foreign minister, Hubert Védrine, was given to the same anti-Americanism that moves his successor, the bombastic and vain Dominique de Villepin. It was Védrine, it should be recalled, who in the late 1990s had dubbed the United States a "hyperpower." He had done so before the war on terrorism, before the war on Iraq. He had done it against the background of an international order more concerned with economics and markets than with military power. In contrast to his successor, Védrine at least had the honesty to acknowledge that there was nothing unusual about the way the United States wielded its power abroad, or about France’s response to that primacy. France, too, he observed, might have been equally overbearing if it possessed the United States’ weight and assets.
His successor gave France’s resentment highly moral claims. Villepin appeared evasive, at one point, on whether he wished to see a U.S. or an Iraqi victory in the standoff between Saddam Hussein’s regime and the United States. Anti-Americanism indulges France’s fantasy of past greatness and splendor and gives France’s unwanted Muslim children a claim on the political life of a country that knows not what to do with them.
THE BURDEN OF MODERNITY
To come bearing modernism to those who want it but who rail against it at the same time, to represent and embody so much of what the world yearns for and fears — that is the American burden. The United States lends itself to contradictory interpretations. To the Europeans, and to the French in particular, who are enamored of their laïcisme (secularism), the United States is unduly religious, almost embarrassingly so, its culture suffused with sacred symbolism. In the Islamic world, the burden is precisely the opposite: There, the United States scandalizes the devout, its message represents nothing short of an affront to the pious and a temptation to the gullible and the impressionable young. According to the June BBC survey, 78 percent of French polled identified the United States as a "religious" country, while only 10 percent of Jordanians endowed it with that label. Religious to the secularists, faithless to the devout — such is the way the United States is seen in foreign lands.
So many populations have the United States under their skin. Their rage is oddly derived from that very same attraction. Consider the Saudi realm, a place where anti-Americanism is fierce. The United States helped invent the modern Saudi world. The Arabian American Oil Company — for all practical purposes a state within a state — pulled the desert enclave out of its insularity, gave it skills, and ushered it into the 20th century. Deep inside the anti-Americanism of today’s Saudi Arabia, an observer can easily discern the dependence of the Saudi elite on their U.S. connection. It is in the image of the United States’ suburbs and urban sprawl that Saudi cities are designed. It is on the campuses of Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford that the ruling elite are formed and educated.
After September 11, 2001, the Saudi elite panicked that their ties to the United States might be shattered and that their world would be consigned to what they have at home. Fragments of the United States have been eagerly embraced by an influential segment of Saudi society. For many, the United States was what they encountered when they were free from home and family and age-old prohibitions. Today, an outing in Riyadh is less a journey to the desert than to the mall and to Starbucks.
An academic in Riyadh, in the midst of an anti-American tirade about all policies American, was keen to let me know that his young son, born in the United States, had suddenly declared he no longer wanted to patronize McDonald’s because of the United States’ support of Israel. The message was plaintive and unpersuasive; the resolve behind that "boycott" was sure to crack. A culture that casts so long a shadow is fated to be emulated and resented at the same time. The United States is destined to be in the politics — and imagination — of strangers even when the country (accurately) believes it is not implicated in the affairs of other lands.
In a hauntingly astute set of remarks made to the New Yorker in the days that followed the terrorism of September 11, the Egyptian playwright Ali Salem — a free spirit at odds with the intellectual class in his country and a maverick who journeyed to Israel and wrote of his time there and of his acceptance of that country — went to the heart of the anti-American phenomenon. He was thinking of his own country’s reaction to the United States, no doubt, but what he says clearly goes beyond Egypt:
People say that Americans are arrogant, but it’s not true. Americans enjoy life and they are proud of their lives, and they are boastful of their wonderful inventions that have made life so much easier and more convenient. It’s very difficult to understand the machinery of hatred, because you wind up resorting to logic, but trying to understand this with logic is like measuring distance in kilograms….These are people who are envious. To them, life is an unbearable burden. Modernism is the only way out. But modernism is frightening. It means we have to compete. It means we can’t explain everything away with conspiracy theories. Bernard Shaw said it best, you know. In the preface to ‘St. Joan,’ he said Joan of Arc was burned not for any reason except that she was talented. Talent gives rise to jealousy in the hearts of the untalented.
This kind of envy cannot be attenuated. Jordanians, for instance, cannot be talked out of their anti-Americanism. In the BBC survey, 71 percent of Jordanians thought the United States was more dangerous to the world than al Qaeda. But Jordan has been the rare political and economic recipient of a U.S. free trade agreement, a privilege the United States shares only with a handful of nations. A new monarch, King Abdullah II, came to power, and the free trade agreement was an investment that Pax Americana made in his reign and in the moderation of his regime. But this bargain with the Hashemite dynasty has not swayed the intellectual class, nor has it made headway among the Jordanian masses. On Iraq and on matters Palestinian, for more than a generation now, Jordanians have not had a kind thing to say about the United States. In the scheme of Jordan’s neighborhood, the realm is benign and forgiving, but the political life is restrictive and tight. When talking about the United States, Jordanians have often been talking to their rulers, expressing their dissatisfaction with the quality of the country’s public life and economic performance. A pollster venturing to Jordan must understand the country’s temper, hemmed in by poverty and overshadowed by more resourceful powers all around it: Iraq to the east, Israel to the west, and Syria and Saudi Arabia over the horizon. A sense of disinheritance has always hung over Jordan. The trinity of God, country, and king puts much of the political life of the land beyond scrutiny and discussion. The anti-Americanism emanates from, and merges with, this political condition.
With modernism come the Jews. They have been its bearers and beneficiaries, and they have paid dearly for it. They have been taxed with cosmopolitanism: The historian Isaac Deutscher had it right when he said that other people have roots, but the Jews have legs. Today the Jews have a singular role in U.S. public life and culture, and anti-Americanism is tethered to anti-Semitism. In the Islamic world, and in some European circles as well, U.S. power is seen as the handmaiden of Jewish influence. Witness, for instance, the London-based Arab media’s obsession with the presumed ascendancy of the neoconservatives — such as former chairman of the Defense Policy Board Richard Perle and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz — in the making of U.S. foreign policy. The neocons had been there for the rescue of the (Muslim) Bosnians and Kosovars, but the reactionaries in Muslim lands had not taken notice of that. Left to itself, the United States would be fair-minded, this Arab commentary maintains, and it would arrive at a balanced approach to the Arab-Islamic world. This narrative is nothing less than a modernized version of the worldview of that infamous forgery, The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. But it is put forth by men and women who insist on their oneness with the modern world.
A century ago, in a short-story called "Youth," the great British author Joseph Conrad captured in his incomparable way the disturbance that is heard when a modern world pushes against older cultures and disturbs their peace. In the telling, Marlowe, Conrad’s literary double and voice, speaks of the frenzy of coming upon and disturbing the East. "And then, before I could open my lips, the East spoke to me, but it was in a Western voice. A torrent of words was poured into the enigmatical, the fateful silence; outlandish, angry words mixed with words and even whole sentences of good English, less strange but even more surprising. The voice swore and cursed violently; it riddled the solemn peace of the bay by a volley of abuse. It began by calling me Pig . . . ."
Today, the United States carries the disturbance of the modern to older places — to the east and to the intermediate zones in Europe. There is energy in the United States, and there is force. And there is resistance and resentment — and emulation — in older places affixed on the delicate balancing act of a younger United States not yet content to make its peace with traditional pains and limitations and tyrannies. That sensitive French interpreter of his country, Dominique Moïsi, recently told of a simple countryman of his who was wistful when Saddam Hussein’s statue fell on April 9 in Baghdad’s Firdos Square. France opposed this war, but this Frenchman expressed a sense of diminishment that his country had sat out this stirring story of political liberation. A society like France with a revolutionary history should have had a hand in toppling the tyranny in Baghdad, but it didn’t. Instead, a cable attached to a U.S. tank had pulled down the statue, to the delirium of the crowd. The new history being made was a distinctly American (and British) creation. It was soldiers from Burlington, Vermont, and Linden, New Jersey, and Bon Aqua, Tennessee — I single out those towns because they are the hometowns of three soldiers who were killed in the Iraq war — who raced through the desert making this new history and paying for it.
The United States need not worry about hearts and minds in foreign lands. If Germans wish to use anti-Americanism to absolve themselves and their parents of the great crimes of World War II, they will do it regardless of what the United States says and does. If Muslims truly believe that their long winter of decline is the fault of the United States, no campaign of public diplomacy shall deliver them from that incoherence. In the age of Pax Americana, it is written, fated, or maktoob (as the Arabs would say) that the plotters and preachers shall rail against the United States — in whole sentences of good American slang.
Tags: 138, al Qaeda, Default, Europe, Feature, France, Free, Israel/Palestine, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign Policy
More from Foreign Policy
This was inspired by American friends' confusion over whether they are hated or not, and why. Although it includes some of my own views most of the reasons people give here are common to average people, plus some opinions of reporters and other bodies. This has been written during the fallout of the terrorist attacks on North America on 2001 Sep 11, during which both towers of the World Trade Center collapsed, killing over 20001 people, the Pentagon was attacked leaving over 100 dead, and other bombs and hijackings (some of which failed) occurred.
Many of today's achievements would not be possible without the help or aid of the USA. Many medical, technological advances and much human aid and third world relief comes from this rich nation.
This page is educational in that it is a description and analysis of criticism of America. My personal stance is one of vague indifference. I don't hate America. Its foreign policies are increasingly unacceptable and its current government's attitude to some of the issues below (pollution, environment, arms race) is appalling, immature and short sighted. But at some point, during the times I have spent in America I have kind of fallen in love with it.
I am willing to entertain communications about facts that need altering. But the opinions and feelings of people are sometimes in contradiction of the facts and this text is primarily an account of feelings. There is no need to get into an argument with me over whether peoples' feelings are "true" or not!
2003 Aug 28: I have started to add some quotes from "Why Do People Hate America?" by Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies (2002). This book, wrote nine months after I wrote my initial page by the same name, is a worthwhile read. It covers many of the same subjects as I do except some of my sources are not as respectable. However much of the book is centered around analysing the self-perception of Americans, especially of those under the influence of USA-style war films. The book, therefore, contains a wealth of information on such war films and highlights the inherent pro-USA slant that all such films take, and their bludgeoning of known history. But, in my opinion, the book concentrates on this far too much! I do believe that my simple page contains much more varied and balanced material.
1. Who hates America?
Before considering why people hate America, let us first consider who hates America
“Shock, rage and grief there has been aplenty. But any glimmer of recognition of why people might have been driven to carry out such atrocities, sacrificing their own lives in the process - or why the United States is hated with such bitterness, not only in Arab and Muslim countries, but across the developing world - seems almost entirely absent.”
Seumas Milne (2001)2
It is true that a lot of developing nations hate America.
“Dave Winer posted something yesterday which gives me hope:"People don't sacrifice themselves for no reason. Let's find out what it is. And if we did something wrong (no doubt we did) let's apologize, ask for forgiveness, and then ask how we can do better."”
Jeff Kandt (2001)3
There is much unjustified hatred in the world. There is unjustified hatred of the USA. Much of this arises from the victimisation complex that sweeps much of mankind. Whoever is in charge, whoever is powerful or successful will also be hated. This immature hatred often evaporates quickly with a little reason or thought. The second section of this essay lists some invalid, unjustified criticisms. The most widespread hate is the hate by people the world over who fall victim to their own shortcomings, and want a scapegoat.
When people are willing to kill themselves for a cause it is not due to a whim or immature persecution complex. People willing to go this far... and to maintain that mentality for periods of time to organize an attack and carry it out have got more of a grudge than a mere jealousy or shallow hatred of success. I will dismiss several "unjustified" causes of hate in the second section of this essay. This essay is not geared to these shallow reasons.
The most prevalent form in Western nations of anti American feelings is due to intellectualized reasons. In short this amounts to opinions on America, its actions. Intellectual hatred is based on principles, morals, and historical hatred based on past conflicts and actions of the USA.
Distaste of America in Europe
“...the German foreign policy analyst Josef Joffe, in a smart essay in The National Interest journal titled "Who's Afraid of Mr. Big?" Mr. Joffe argues that one reason no alliance has formed against America yet is because, while resentment of America is rife, particularly among European elites, the attraction of America - its culture, universities, movies, food, clothing and technologies - is just as strong, and today no power in the world can balance it. For every European elitist who resents America for what it is, there are 10 Euro-kids who want what America is. "America is both menace and seducer, both monster and model," says Mr. Joffe.”
Marshallz10 (2001 Jun 16)4
In Europe, it is largely intellectual hatred of America that people take with them after abandoning childhood jealousy. Perhaps choosing to intellectualize their distaste by concentrating on North America's poor spots in history and current affairs, rather than fully fall in love with it and its globalisation, materialist dreams and multicultural freedom.
“Opinion polls show that half the German population is openly critical of US leadership for a number of reasons:
- Its failure to consult its allies as promised.
- Its refusal to sign up to joint action against global warming.
- Its protectionist stance on trade issues such as steel and agriculture.”
BBC News (2002)5
Protests in France, Germany, Spain and Italy have surrounded President Bush's visits to these countries this month. 10,000 security officers are to be mobilised in one of the largest police deployments in Berlin's history as Bush visits during a time of massive open scorn from European citizens.
Distaste of the USA in North America
“I believe every American should be forced to commiserate with people from other countries while they are growing up. Only when I talked to people from outside my borders did I realize how insanely myopic the entire establishment of the US is. People here really can't seem to understand why the world gets mad at us. It is not evil that's the problem here I think, just incredible, earth-shattering, incalculable, painfully entrenched ignorance.”
“As for hating the States....as an American in Canada, it's given me the opportunity to see my country from an external point of view. And there's a lot of bad shit going down in it. But there are a lot of good things as well.”
Hatred of America in Muslim nations and Arab nations
The main reasons, the overwhelming cry, is that the USA has bombed, suppressed Islamic nations and restricted them financially, commercially and politically. This has snowballed since the demise of the perception of a "Communist threat". There is utter desperation that Washington is crusading against Islam and that recent events are only an excuse to continue a Christian oppression. Many Muslims believe that the American people have been deceived by their government. Others just want the endless poverty and strikes to stop. There is a strong feeling of repression and of being hated.
A mood of resentment toward America and its behaviour around the world has become so commonplace in their countries that it is bound to breed hostility, hatred, and then renewed physical violence. We call it "terrorism", they call it "retribution" against America, symbol of Western oppression.
Hatred becomes action
Hatred becomes action not due to apathy or indifference, but when a person wishes to act. I theorize that the unjustified hatred does not in itself cause the desperation or fanaticism required to stimulate a person to engage in violent or destructive behaviour.
So this page, in the third section, summarizes many of the intellectualized and reasons that people feel are based on values and logic which cause them to dislike America.
Americans Do Not Know the Reasons
Reading the summary of the reasons in the third part of this essay will shed light on the mindset and feelings of those who do not like America. Americans themselves do not know or understand the reasons. In the poll I refer to below where Americans were asked to pick the main reason "why those who attacked us and their supporters hate the United States?", the 26% of Americans who answered in the top category surely do not have a grip on reality!
They hate us because of:
- our democracy and freedom" (26%)
- "our support for Israel" (22%)
- "our values and way of life" (20%), and
- "our influence on the economy and lives of Middle Eastern countries" (17%).
- our economic and military power (11%).
Harris Interactive poll (2001)8
Points 1 and 3 together make about half the population who apparently suffer from severe solipsistic confusion about the world. The media critic Nick Davies blames much of this ignorance on the media, whose selective reporting leads to an imbalanced view of the world:
“American media consumers may stand back aghast in January 2006 when Bolivia elects a new president, Evo Morales, who immediately declares his antipathy to their nation. They don't know what he's talking about: the news factory has left them in ignorance. It simply has not told them, for example, the story of the Bolivian trade union leader, Casimiro Huanca, who was shot dead in December 2001 by troops which had been trained and supported by the American government to crack down on cocaine production. This incident generated considerable hostility towards the US Embassy there, and no coverage at all in the international mass media. Too far away, too expensive, too boring, too un-American. [...]
It was exactly this same blind focus in the news factory which left the American people after the attacks of September 2001 asking in genuine ignorance: 'Why do they hate us?' In the same way, it has left them for decades in overwhelming ignorance of the behaviour of US security and intelligence agencies which has created such hostility to their country.”
"Flat Earth News" by Nick Davies (2008)9
The first step to understanding anti-USA hatred is to step outside of USA media, and see the USA's actions abroad and their effects.
2. Invalid Criticism of America?
Some criticisms that are not valid, are immature, or just plain ignorant
Here are some criticisms that are not really valid. They are immature, or just plain ignorant. This page isn't really about immature hate, which vanishes with maturity or thought and rarely becomes action.
- Success & Jealousy
- Power & Jealousy
Language - American English
I find that the continuous jokes and criticism of American English to be immature and pointless. It is a natural occurrence that cultures separated by distance or time will develop an increasingly foreign language. Making fun of American accents or particularities of their language is dumb and plain ignorant.
Every language has inconsistencies and irregularities, and the American language has just as many as ordinary English. I also find that most American's recognize that American-English is not the same as English, there doesn't appear to be an attitude that American English is better. This is a criticism that American's can hold against us; that many Brits are Language elitist, and this is bad. It seems to be a particular weak spot of ours.
Success & Jealousy
As the world's richest nation, jealousy does give rise to hatred. Many level headed people will subconsciously feel its effects, even though they may recognize it as what it is, many won't.
There is much unjustified hatred of America. Much of this arises from the victimisation complex that sweeps much of mankind. Whoever is in charge, whoever is powerful or successful will also be hated. This immature hatred often evaporates quickly with a little reason or thought. The second section of this essay lists some invalid, unjustified criticisms.
Power & Jealousy
As a public world-police force, people are prone to resent it in the same way they resent any authoritarian figure or large institution. The American government is more prone to corruption given its powerful position and size, and if it is corruption you despise you should fight that, but try not to actually place blame for its existence, when it is a universal problem.
As a symbol of Western power and aggression, the USA is frequently made a scapegoat for the evils of commercialism on the rest of the world. USA is the biggest, most ego-filled nation and therefore the clearest and most gratifying target to tarnish. Which is stupid.
The lack of an National Health Service in the USA is a shock to those who automatically assumed that such widespread aid was a part of basic Human rights. But... the USA does have provisions for people unable to pay for their own medical aid. Although it is more stringent, America simply operates differently, and its system is not necessarily inherently worse than Europe. It is a complex issue, and not one that people should use to judge an entire nation by.
Also, America has land. Everything is big. Streets are wide, houses are massive, estates are endless and expansion unchecked and carefree. Plain old jealousy once again arises in many. With pollution and the environment playing on city dweller's minds constantly, it is assumed that large houses are a result of a selfish and indulgent consumption of fuel. Europe is infamously and becoming seriously short of living space, so luxurious "waste" of space and short sightedness is assumed, when it is not the case.
Note that in many countries religious, ideological and political circumstances lead to a government or mass media using the USA as a scapegoat, in short executing a low key propaganda campaign against the USA, out of economic and social interest. Some governments and cultures come to unfairly use the USA as a rallying point for their own patriotism - and although there is economic truth in the claim that the USA is suppressing them, the spin that is put on it is false: individual Americans are not out to "oppress" the rest of the world. A mutual misunderstanding occurs: The USA feels victimized as a result of seemingly irrational hatred, and the populace of other countries feel oppressed via American commercial interests. Neither side is irrational, merely looking at it from a victimized point of view, as is human nature for the majority of the untermensch that live in both the East and West.
3. Why Do People Hate America?
Controversial: A summary of the reasons for hatred of America
Ex-colonial countries like the United Kingdom, France, etc, have all committed atrocities. They all have people and nations who still reserve some hatred for them due to past events, wars and politics. And rightly so.
I fear that this list may be seen as a list of why people should dislike North America. This is not the case. These are the reasons that people feel account for their hatred of America, and are not always logical or solid. Looking into them you will find opposing points of view on whether America deserves some of the criticism it received. I wish to give a non-American point of view on anti-American sentiment without appearing "anti-American" myself.
- Misc. Different reasons
- Naive: America does not know that it is hated
- History of war:
- Oil, Bush, Kyoto
- Short term strategies & long term suffering
- Heavy handed commercial aggression
- Patriotism & Self Righteousness
- World War 2: America is self glorifying?
- UN criticism of the United States' Children's Rights
- Rape and violent crime statistics - the highest in the modern world?
- Foreign Aid: USA is stingiest of the 22 most developed countries
- Support of obnoxious regimes
- International discord and contempt of the UN
- The Middle East:
Misc. Different Reasons
Here is a quote from some Americans on the Internet:
“Are you an American? Are you paying attention to what your government is doing overseas? All over the world, and in the middle-east in particular, the US government is pursuing a foreign policy that many people consider immoral. We have supported, trained and armed dictators, illegitimate governments and racist and brutal regimes. We have largely ignored the pain and suffering this has caused.”
Jeff Kandt (2001)3
So let's get down to the intellectual hatred. Hatred that people derive from politics or events, or at least try to justify in those terms. The quote above mentions overseas policy. Notably, one of the buildings attacked on the Attack On America day was America's Foreign Policy office, by car bomb.
There are people in the Western world also have a hatred for America. Frequent sources of this are modern events and trends in American politics. Dislike also arises from American home issues, such as corporal punishment, the lack of a National Health System and illiteracy and homeless demographics. Also, America's liberal stance on the accessibility of fire arms is seen by many as a route through which many illegal weapons move across the world.
Naive: America does not know that it is hated
It seems that many American's do not realize that they have long ago surpassed the UK and other colonial countries as the most hated country. At present Afghanistan has gained many critics, but I feel that this is a temporary reaction to current events.
President Bush has recently said that these terrorists hate democracy and freedom, and therefore attacked the USA. (See my entry on Patriotism for reasons why this assumption alone annoys people). I believe that the attacks were a result of anti-American hatred more than anti-Democratic sentiments.
In the aftershock, it has came to the attention of the Americans themselves that anti-American hatred exists and is rife throughout the world. You would not expect the media, at other times, to report or summarize the reasons as I have done here. But, I would not be shocked as I have seen it myself, to see an article in British newspapers summarizing our own historical atrocities and current pressures we are under.
History of war
Every military conflict and strike causes innocent people to resent the attackers, even when the attacks appear necessary from our point of view, of course it does feel like that to your average person on the street. I could therefore list every conflict that America has been involved in, supplied weapons to one side, both, or more, made a profit from or secured oil from. But such a list would basically involve listing nearly every conflict across the world. So I do not iterate through such a list here, I instead mention a few conflicts that tie in with the rest of the essay. I may do a separate essay for this list, later.
“Unconstrained by any superpower rival or system of global governance, the US giant has rewritten the global financial and trading system in its own interest; ripped up a string of treaties it finds inconvenient; sent troops to every corner of the globe; bombed Afghanistan, Sudan, Yugoslavia and Iraq without troubling the United Nations; maintained a string of murderous embargos against recalcitrant regimes; and recklessly thrown its weight behind Israel's 34-year illegal military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza as the Palestinian intifada rages.”
The Guardian (2001)2
America, as a self-identified military big brother, has been harassing much of the developing world for multiple decades. Strongly anti-communist sentiments have seen a departure from democracy in American foreign politics and an embrace of political fascism... if you are not democratic, or trying to be so, historically the chances are the American government has been funding attempts to take your government out!
“Three years ago, in response to embassy bombings, America attacked a pharmaceutical factory in one of the poorest countries in the world. The Clinton administration said that the Sudanese factory was linked to Osama bin Laden and involved in the production of chemical weapons.
In the following months, that justification fell apart. Although it was not widely reported, it appears that our leaders reacted too hastily, with tragic results. While there were few injuries from the bombing itself, the people of Sudan have suffered enormously as a result of losing this crucial source of medicine.
Please, let's not let that happen again.”
Jeff Kandt (2001)3
Every army blunders. The more powerful a country, the more these cause hatred of it in the world and the easier they are forgotten by the more affluent! The more a country engages in war, the more long-term resentment is going to be created.
Nagasaki and Hiroshima
The hundreds of thousands that died have created in Japan little hatred. What emerges from Japan is the voice for peace, forgiveness and memory.
Something surprised me. Recently I heard Muslims calling for America to pay the price for the massively indiscriminate killing of hundreds and thousands of people. So therefore, Nagasaki and Hiroshima make their strangely surprising entry on to this page. Although I could not say that I understand people bringing this up, for some it is a reason or justification of why they hate America.
Also, the Bush administration have waived an agreement to allow Biological Weapons inspections of all countries, and not just certain Developing nations. No-one expected this refusal, and everyone was deeply shocked by the revelation that America itself is interested, or has, these kinds of weapons. That's the message that comes across.
America shows a disrespect for Global consensus on all fronts, frequently ignoring the UN and international agreements.
“George Bush's administration yesterday blasted another lethal hole in the vital structure of multilateral arms agreements that has so far protected most of the world from the worst dangers of the modern military age. America's lone, wanton wrecking of long-running negotiations to enforce the 1972 treaty banning biological or germ weapons is an insult to the pact's 142 other signatories, a body-blow for the treaty itself and a major setback for international efforts to agree practical curbs on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
By this action, the USA suggests that its national security interests, narrowly defined, and the commercial interests of its dominant biotechnology sector should take precedence over responsible global collaboration to meet a common threat. By rejecting the proposed inspection regime, it further, dangerously, suggests to others that the USA is not really worried about germ-warfare controls and wants to develop its own, advanced biological weapons.
This in turn could have a serious impact on continuing efforts to bolster the equally important chemical weapons convention. Since Tony Blair's government has been particularly active in promoting the BWC enforcement protocol, it may now be expected to be particularly active in condemning this latest piece of Bush vandalism. Jack Straw should summon the US ambassador, a Bush appointee, to the Foreign Office and demand an explanation.
The US move confirms a pattern of reckless, unilateralist behaviour on arms control, as on environmental and other issues. Since taking office, Mr Bush has spoken in grandiose terms of the need for "new thinking" and for a "new strategic framework". But to date, this supposed post-cold war global security "vision" has largely amounted to trashing existing agreements without any clear idea of what to put in their place.”
The Guardian (2001)10
“AMERICA was heading for a new confrontation with its allies yesterday after it emerged that the Bush Administration will refuse to accept an arms control deal to enforce a ban on biological weapons.
Following the controversy caused by Washington's rejection of the Kyoto protocol and its decision to challenge the ABM treaty on missile defence, the move is likely to lead to a new diplomatic row with its allies in Europe and Asia.
At issue is a draft agreement being negotiated in Geneva to enforce the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention which bans the development, production and stockpiling of germ warfare agents. The treaty has been ratified by more than 140 countries, including the United States, but until now there has been no mechanism to enforce it.
After six years of negotiations, representatives from around the world are due to meet in Geneva today to finalise an agreement that would allow inspectors to visit sites which could be used in making biological weapons.
...Washington has now made it clear that it is unacceptable in its present form and, despite the likely international backlash, America will reject the deal.
"We have problems with the protocol," a White House spokesman said at the weekend. "We think that more work needs to be done."
Developing germ agents in a laboratory is relatively easy to do and notoriously hard to detect, as inspectors discovered in Iraq[...].
Donald Mahley, the American representative to the talks, is expected to say today that the protocol is too weak to catch countries trying to conceal their germ warfare programmes, but strong enough to hurt American industry.
[...] Whatever the reasons, the move is likely to be regarded abroad as further evidence that America is entering a new isolationist era, where its own domestic concerns are placed above its global responsibilities. Supporters of the protocol insist that while it is not perfect, it is better than nothing.”
The Times (2001)11
I believe that there are arguments defending America's refusal to co-operate with this seemingly benevolent motion. But, frequently, the shock that America did not sign such an important treaty is enough to cause fear and resentment that can override people's willingness to find out why America does not support the anti-biological weapon ban.
The Land Mine Treaty
“THERE WAS AN EMPTY chair at the Geneva meeting this past week on implementation of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. The 138 signers of the Treaty were reviewing progress made in removing mines, treating victims, and destroying stockpiles [...]
The empty chair was a symbolic invitation to governments that have not yet signed the treaty. Among these are Iraq, North Korea, Libya, China, and Russia. Sad to say, that empty chair in Geneva also beckons the United States.
The refusal of America to sign the Mine Ban Treaty represents a particularly embarrassing contradiction, since President Clinton, during a 1994 speech to the UN General Assembly, became the first leader of a major power to demand elimination of all antipersonnel land mines. In 1996, Clinton pledged in public that the United States would spearhead an international campaign to rid the world of antipersonnel land mines.”
The Boston Globe (2000)12
I believe that, due to a situation in Korea (which is now obsolete), the USA found itself requiring the use of landmines, and there are some good arguments for their use in that particular scenario, as a purely defensive weapon. But over time, all landmines become serious pests. It seems that the general feeling is that support of landmines is not in the long-term interests of any country, after the wars, landmines always remain a dangerous and stubborn evil.
Some other countries also shunned this move:
“The repeated U.S. proposal for "exemption on the Korean Peninsula" - a move to justify its estimated two million US-made land mines sowed along the DMZ dividing the peninsula into north and south Korea - was flatly turned down by the 89 nations, including all of America's NATO allies.
In the wake of U.S. refusal, which maintains its illegal Armed Forces on the peninsula in violation of Washington-Moscow trusteeship, (agreed upon in 1945 after Korea's liberation) north Korea also refused to sign the treaty, followed by China, Russia and India.”
A Japanese Website (2001)13
The Arms Trade
There have been no wars between major powers since 1945, but there has been an estimated 138 wars resulting in 23 million deaths.
“The Korean War, which caused 3 million deaths and the Vietnam War, which killed 2 million people, were the most deadly conflicts. All 138 wars were fought in the Third World, and many were fuelled by weapons provided by the two major powers or their allies [...]
The surfeit of weapons, especially small arms, left over from this era is a key enabling factor in many conflicts now scarring the world [...] Yet the arms trade continues. [...] The five permanent members of the security council provide 86% of the arms exported to developing countries. In 1992, the United States alone accounted for 46 percent.”
"Our Global Neighbourhood: The Report of the Commission on Global Governance" by United Nations (1995)
The biggest five arms exporters are the USA, Russia, UK, France, and Germany. The USA's biggest customer is Israel, but, all powers are guilty of selling obscene quantities of arms to unstable countries. Despite the widespread condemnation, sometimes it appears it is good to sell weapons to (for example) a government that needs to keep its army operable in order to secure peace within its own borders. But this isn't where lots of the weapons that we sell go. The USA in particular tends to arm opposition parties and rebels in countries where it disagrees with the government, and has as such armed and directly trained groups such as the Taliban in Afghanistan, not always caring that many supported groups have atrocious human rights records.
Oil, Bush, Kyoto
“The USA drew worldwide criticism for failing to adopt the greatest international agreement for the reduction of some greenhouse gases, The Kyoto Protocol, which has been accepted by nearly every other country. This is despite the fact that the USA is by a massive margin the world's biggest polluter and very disproportionately so. President Bush has repeatedly stated that he will not adopt such protocols if they harm American economy. Commercialism and greed overcome all common sense and thought for the welfare of future generations. See my complete page on "Oil, Pollution and Kyoto". This failure causes hatred not only of the Bush administration, but of American commercialism in general.”
"The USA Versus the Environment: Oil, Pollution and Kyoto" by Vexen Crabtree (2002)
Widely known as the world's greatest polluter, America has recently not backed pollution treaties to reduce car emissions or petrol consumption. The US alone accounted for 36.1% of worldwide greenhouse emissions in 199014.
“The US contains 4% of the world's population but produces about 25% of all carbon dioxide emissions. By comparison, Britain emits 3% - about the same as India which has 15 times as many people.”
BBC News (2002)15
"The USA Versus the Environment: Oil, Pollution and Kyoto" by Vexen Crabtree (2002)
Many environmentalists understand that developing countries do not have the technology or means to use the most modern or environmentally friendly industrial equipment. But when such a rich country as the USA fails to take responsibility for its own pollution it really annoys a lot of people worldwide. I wrote this page just to concentrate on the USA and President Bush's effect on the Kyoto Protocol because I receive so many emails from people expressing a hatred of the USA because of these issues.
“The message was: 'US corporations have the right to pollute the entire planet. The people and the environment don't matter.'”
Bianca Jagger (2001)16
Some people have been forced to wonder if, as a Democratic government's partial job is to protect people from the Capitalistic inequality that arises when anarchy reigns, the American government can still be considered to be working for interests of people anywhere in the world, or if it is indeed simply the world's largest corporation.
Short term strategies & long term suffering
Because it is a symptom of being a young, yet powerful, nation that many of the US's military techniques do not appear to be planned with long term humanitarian effects fully taken into account.
- Downwind from Nagasaki, people still die from cancer.
- Long after the USA left Korea, Landmines still kill people.
- The damage done by pollution takes decades to recover. Emitting 25% of the world's pollution, the USA has not only left it too late, but appears to going for a world-wide after-effect this time!
Heavy handed commercial aggression
Some British and Europeans complain that the USA uses its media influence and commercial domination as a method to force goods, such as produce and foods, into foreign markets.
Patriotism & Self Righteousness
There appears to be something about the very language employed by Americans that causes resentment and rejection.
For example, the recent attacks on America were hailed as attacks on freedom and democracy. Although not democratic, the sequence of targets, the American symbol of power and commercial trade, the Pentagon, head of the military and the Foreign Policy offices, do not show an attack on Democracy but a very specific attack on America.
To hear American's claim that any such attack on America is an attack on freedom itself is to claim that America is synonymous with freedom, which is enough to make any non-America cringe and wonder if the speaker has ever even left his country. The targets attacked were not icons of democracy, they were pillars of American commerce, American military power, American government (failed attack) and American foreign policy.
“Mr Bush said the US had been "awakened to danger" and "called to defend freedom.”
BBC News (2001)17
The attacks are wrong, misguided and desperate, but they are not an attack on freedom. Potentially coming from a country that has been fought over, bombed and attacked by American power for over 30 years, the attacks are more of a desperate attempt to strike back at America in particular, in any way they can rather than any poor attempt at attacking freedom itself.
The language employed stinks of a kind of patriotism akin to complete indifference to the rest of the world and ignorance of America's own problems. There is a very showy, macho, self-gratifying kind of righteousness in American speech about themselves which people either assume is intentionally ironic and over the top, or they are shocked and end up thinking that American's actually think like that. Even I would be shocked if I thought they mean to communicate things in the way they do, sometimes, I like to put it down to differences in our usage of English, rather than think that President Bush really feels that America has been "called to defend freedom". The amount of self loving literature in American culture is assumed by many to be an indication that America's population deep down feel bad about their country.
I was asked once, "Vexen, why do you think they didn't blow up the statue of liberty?" and my reply, which I admit is tongue-in-cheek, may well reflect the opinions of many:
“Perhaps they find the Statue of Liberty to be such an ironic facade that they couldn't bring themselves to destroy such a hypocritical monument, which serves in the mind of many to be a symbol of commercialism gone wrong, democracy fuelled by military power.”
Vexen Crabtree (2001)
“It is this record of unabashed national egotism and arrogance that drives anti-Americanism among swaths of the world's population, for whom there is little democracy in the current distribution of global wealth and power.”
Seumas Milne (2001)2
A love for one's own country is not inherently bad, it stinks of counterproductive pride, but as long as it kept in moderation by knowledge of your countries own weaknesses and wrongdoings then it is acceptable. Patriotism combined with ignorance is the worst kind of pro American evangelist.
World War 2: America is self glorifying?
I would rarely consider this a point of hatred, but it is enough to cause many Europeans to verbally attack USA over its own opinion on its activities during World War 2. People curse, shout and argue at great lengths with seemingly unmovable Americans, and complain bitterly that America's late arrival in the war is not something they should boast about.
It continues, for example, in the film Saving Private Ryan (based on a true story of a British expedition to rescue British prisoners), where an all-American ground force takes on Germany; whereas America sent very few soldiers into war. America only began to send men into the war against Japan after Pearl Harbour, and the numbers and aid that America put into the world are pale in comparison to the massive war efforts conducted by Russia (who crushed Germany with 20 millions of ground troops), France (for its bitter, endless and determined self defence) and the UK. The UK's air force and special forces were consistently very brave and effective (even though some of ground invasions of German held territory were ludicrously ill fated).
America did supply vast amounts of material goods, but it did not throw itself, or its soldiers, into combat wholeheartedly. America's most consistent aid was against the Japanese, and not until Japan attacked America directly, and even then America eventually resorted to the massively indiscriminate nuclear bombs rather than "waste" men on resolute Japan.
The USA appears to be very self-glorifying, and there are multiple generations in the UK, France and Europe who upset and angry at America's rewriting of history. Russia's men, France's entire population, and UK's air force, were the principal opponents of Germany, aided by American equipment (which for example was loaned and leased to the USSR, not merely given), for which the allies were grateful, but not tricked that the USA did not have its own interests at heart, like all countries in the ideologically-charged political atmosphere of the time. USAs entry to the war was forced, not chosen, their motives were self-defence not world-wide good such as was the case with UK, and their effort was slow and half-hearted, public opinion only turned in favour of the war at a very late date.
“In his war memoirs Churchill boasted that only in July 1944 did the British Empire yield to the United States in the number of divisions engaging the enemy. [...]The British and the American effort was dwarfed by the Soviets, who were then engaging about 70 per cent of all German divisions, something Churchill neglected entirely to mention.”
Alex Danchev (1994) in the "The Oxford History of the British Army" by Becket and Chandler (1994)18
There is an element of misunderstanding here, as Europeans consider World War 2 to be principally France, Europe, UK (with late American aid), Russia versus Germany, mostly forgetting about Japan. Whereas many American's will rightly remember Pearl Harbour and the Japanese more prominently, and probably give the combat in the Indonesian islands and the Pacific more importance than Europeans do.
“The Soviet economy had suffered enormous devastation. [...] The death of an estimated 20 million [Soviets] is an index of the enormous costs of the war to the Soviets. Although the United States had suffered some 300,000 casualties, the ratio of Soviet to American war deaths was about seventy to one.”
"American Foreign Policy" by Kegley & Wittkopf (1987)
The Final Truth is that without any of the allies, the war would have been lost. without material aid from the USA, Russia and the UK would have taken many more years to finally defeat Germany - if at all. USA bombers and UK fighters (Battle of Britain) were the only serious returns we made on Germany other than Russian ground forces. The much repeated phrase that "USA saved Europe" is very much untrue, and completely dismissive of the intense war that actually occurred far from the USA and for years without USA involvement. Russia saved Europe, so did the UK, so did France and the other allies... for any country to claim that it is more of a benefactor than the others is untrue and shows an emotionally disturbing lack of empathy. I would reckon that historically only the poor, suppressed Russian civilians and soldiers could claim to have saved anyone.19
Amazingly prevalent in the world's richest nation, obesity is a cause of disgust. The USA's obesity levels are embarrassing to absolutely everyone. America is frequently ridiculed for its inhabitant's unwillingness to walk rather than drive. And although the criticism is short sighted, it is at least common with the theme that America is not perceived as a healthy or wise nation by many.
“America is experiencing an obesity epidemic. In 1999, sixty-one percent of Americans were overweight and twenty-six percent were obese. The definition of overweight is having a body-mass index (BMI) greater than 25, and the definition of obesity is having a BMI greater than 30.”
Richard Lutes, MD (2001)20
UN criticism of the United States' Children's Rights
The United Nations did not adopt the "Convention on the Rights of the Child", which shocked and upset many who follow such events:
“The United States has some of the best programs and laws in the world to protect its children but, as UNICEF has pointed out, the U.S. also has one of the highest rates of the industrialized countries for poverty and hunger among children and also for child mortality. A recent story in the Washington Post noted that "despite this time of record prosperity, one in every six American children is poor; one in three children of color. No other developed country has anything approaching U.S. child poverty rates.”
United Nations' High Commissioner for Human Rights,
Mary Robinson (2001 Jan 11)21
Rape and violent crime statistics - the highest in the modern world?
“Nobody disputes one phenomenon disclosed by the crime statistics - the exceptionally high level of violent crime that occurs in the United States as compared with other industrialized countries, including Britain (though not compared with some third world countries). There are more reported murders each year in Detroit, with a population of just over one-and-a-half million, than in the whole of the United Kingdom, which has a population of just over fifty-eight million people. Viewed in this context, the United States is a culture in which crimes of violence flourish. Why should this be? The answer is sometimes given as the widespread availability of hand-guns and other firearms. This is surely relevant, but cannot on its own be the full answer. Switzerland has very low rates of violent crime, yet firearms are easily accessible. (All males keep weapons, including rifles, revolvers, automatic weapons, plus ammunition).”
"Sociology" by Anthony Giddens (1997)22
“The United States has the world's highest rape rate of the countries that publish such statistics - 13 times higher than England and more than 20 times higher than Japan. [Senate Judiciary Committee, 1990. Facts about Violence Against Women.]”
University of Alabama Women's Center23
Statistics such as these appear in the Fact Sheet on Gender Violence, published by the United Nations Non-Governmental Agency, UNIFEM, and available in the Sexual Assault Education Office (USA).
“WASHINGTON -- The United States is "the most violent and self-destructive nation on earth," a congressional report said Tuesday.
..."In 1990, the United States led the world with its murder, rape and robbery rates," the report said. "When viewed from the national perspective, these crime rates are sobering. When viewed from the international perspective, they are truly embarrassing."
The report noted that the murder rate in the United States was more than twice that of Northern Ireland, which is torn by civil war; four times that of Italy; nine times England's and 11 times Japan's. Violence against women in America was even more pervasive, the committee said. The rape rate in the United States was eight times higher than in France, 15 times higher than in England, 23 times higher than in Italy and 26 times higher than in Japan...
...based on raw FBI data and preliminary statistics for last year, based its comparisons on Justice Department statistics for industrialized nations. Crime reporting standards vary in those countries, and crime rates for less-developed Third World nations generally are either unavailable or unreliable. But the report made clear that violence in the United States has no equal among the world's developed nations. Nor did 1990 have a modern equal for violence in America.”
Tim Weiner in San Jose Mercury News (1991)24
With the wealth and material power behind the USA (they are the world's richest nation), why are these statistics so bad? It is puzzling. It is easy to say "low moral standards" and even to correlate this to "80% of all Americans call themselves Christians", but what is the cause of this low level of morals?
Is it the result of rampant commercialism, simple lack of caring in the community? Is it the result of the topography of the country? Is it the same commercialist attitude that leads to wealth, but also to crime and a low quality of society?
It is hard to say why, and this essay is looking at reasons why people hate America, so thinking about why the USA is like it is is something I leave up to the reader!
Foreign Aid: USA is Stingiest of the 22 Most Developed Countries
The USA claims to be, in absolute terms, the world's biggest giver and this is true. However, as a proportion of its wealth the USA gives least when compared to all 22 of the worlds' most developed countries.
“[Americans] are regularly told by politicians and the media, that America is the world's most generous nation. This is one of the most conventional pieces of 'knowledgeable ignorance'. [...For example Japan gives more even in absolute terms...]
Absolute figures are less significant than the proportion of gross domestic product (GDP, or national wealth) that a country devotes to foreign aid. On that league table, the US ranks twenty-second of the 22 most developed nations. As former President Jimmy Carter commented: 'We are the stingiest nation of all'. Denmark is top of the table, giving 1.01% of GDP, while the US manages just 0.1%. The United Nations has long established the target of 0.7% GDP for development assistance, although only four countries actually achieve this: Denmark, 1.01%; Norway, 0.91%; the Netherlands, 0.79%; Sweden, 0.7%. Apart from being the least generous nation, the US is highly selective in who receives its aid. Over 50% of its aid budget is spent on middle-income countries in the Middle East, with Israel being the recipient of the largest single share."
"Why Do People Hate America?" by Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies (2002)25
Not only that, but according to one source cited by Sarder & Davies, 80% of that aid itself actually goes to American companies in those foreign countries.
Support of Obnoxious Regimes
"USA: Supporting Obnoxious Regimes" by Vexen Crabtree (2003)
This section has been expanded into an entire page, it concludes with:
Looking at the Results
In 2002 the USA returned to Afghanistan to kill and destroy the Taliban under the lead of Mullah Mohammed Omar, and the Al-Qaeda under the lead of Osama Bin Laden (who the USA called a 'freedom fighter' in the 1980s, but a "terrorist" now, however his actions haven't changed, only their target). In 2003 the USA also returned to Iraq to destroy Saddam Hussein. Returning to Cuba, the USA has fought Fidel Castro and in Vietnam it fought 'Ho Chi Minh and his successors'. The single most outstanding thing that all of these enemies have in common is that they were created by American interventionism in the first place. The result of all these USA borne monsters has been heavy oppression of the people and widespread resentment of the USA. During the Bosnian war (1992-95) multiple Islamic militants were similarly supported, trained and armed. The Nicaragua terrorists, amongst other varied and colourful enemies of humanity for various reasons; and still, the thing they all have in common is that inhumanity reigned and monsters were created.
It is now looking like other monsters that the USA forced into existence will have to be faced, including the Iranian government that was setup in rebellion to the USA's manipulation of the Shah.
Winston Churchill said, "However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results..." and this virtual truism should perhaps inform the greatest question the world should ask: What IS the United States after that justifies such terrible results?
The USA may have learned some lessons (finally?), as in the 2003 Iraq invasion, it specifically did not grant masses of military equipment or funds to the allied Northern Kurdish forces - the USA seems to be learning that the more weapons you put out there and more factions you turn into monsters, the worse the fighting becomes and the less democratic the governments.
Disclaimer! The USA is Not Alone in This Behaviour
All countries use the same unfortunate tactics as the USA from time to time. The USA is not unique in its foreign policy misadventures. And sometimes, these tactics are justified. It is not clear at all what methods should be used to try to improve the world in places where it resists decency. But the extent to which the USA has engaged in these practices has caused a widespread hatred of the USA amongst the populaces of the countries that have suffered from the resultant regimes.”
"USA: Supporting Obnoxious Regimes" by Vexen Crabtree (2003)
"USA: Contempt for United Nations and International Folly" by Vexen Crabtree (2003)
“The USA has broken the UN Security Council, leading to its decreased importance and effectiveness, largely over Israel that the USA supports under any circumstances, vetoing even the smallest and most reasonable measures against Israel's illegal occupations. The reasons for the USA's behaviour is beyond me, some say it is religiously motivated, commercially motivated or simply due to habit. The USA abuses the UN more than any other country, constantly trying to bribe and buy influence, yet is notorious for owing most to the UN, despite the USA's heavy use of it, and wealth. This intolerable attitude towards world consensus causes hatred of the USA at the highest levels in all countries in the world, except Israel, which is perhaps the USA's sole benefactor.
International treaties mentioned on this page, such as the Landmine Treaty, the 1972 treaty banning biological of germ warfare, Kyoto, Bush has specifically stated that "Americans come first" along with American economic interests. USA & Israel simultaneous rejection of the World Conference Against Racism, and USA's failure to ratify three of the six core Human Rights treaties, are often cited as reasons why people in the developed world hate whatever it is that the USA government is up to. This apparent immorality is hated across the world and is seen as one of the worst aspects of American commercialism, and world opinion was reflected when the USA was voted out of the United Nations Human Rights Committee in 2001.
Commerce, Oil, Money and Power are the only values that come from Washington's lead, consistently over the years the world has learned to hate all American intervention because it is known full well that at the bottom of every American foreign policy these four corrupting principles are immovably roosted. Even in matters of foreign aid, the USA is abusive and two-faced. The poor USA citizens do not know the extent of the damage that their countries commercialism-at-all-costs is costing the world. World peace, world economy, third world countries, the environment and international co-operation are all victims of the USA's blatant greed.”
"USA: Contempt for United Nations and International Folly" by Vexen Crabtree (2003)
The Middle East
U.S. MANIPULATES MIDEAST FOR FUN AND PROFIT - about the Gulf War, Oil and the Arms trade. The USA is the world's biggest exporter of arms. The Mid-East is the biggest importer.
Osama bin Laden: Some of his "justifications" from 1998
“We however, differentiate between the western government and the people of the West. If the people have elected those governments in the latest elections, it is because they have fallen prey to the Western media which portray things contrary to what they really are. And while the slogans raised by those regimes call for humanity, justice, and peace, the behavior of their governments is completely the opposite. It is not enough for their people to show pain when they see our children being killed in Israeli raids launched by American planes, nor does this serve the purpose. What they ought to do is change their governments which attack our countries. The hostility that America continues to express against the Muslim people has given rise to feelings of animosity on the part of Muslims against America and against the West in general. Those feelings of animosity have produced a change in the behavior of some crushed and subdued groups who, instead of fighting the Americans inside the Muslim countries, went on to fight them inside the United States of America itself. [...]
The Americans started it and retaliation and punishment should be carried out following the principle of reciprocity, especially when women and children are involved. Through history, American has not been known to differentiate between the military and the civilians or between men and women or adults and children. Those who threw atomic bombs and used the weapons of mass destruction against Nagasaki and Hiroshima were the Americans. Can the bombs differentiate between military and women and infants and children? America has no religion that can deter her from exterminating whole peoples. Your position against Muslims in Palestine is despicable and disgraceful. America has no shame. ... We believe that the worst thieves in the world today and the worst terrorists are the Americans. Nothing could stop you except perhaps retaliation in kind.”
Osama bin Laden (1998)
Interview with ABC reporter John Miller26
There are strong feelings throughout most Islam nations that America suppresses them. Although ordinary, peaceful citizens do not suppose as much, or feel hatred (in the same way American's should not hate all the Middle East because American embassies are bombed), it is normally the strongest and loudest voice, the most extreme, that the Western world comes to see as representative.
“As Osama Bin Laden is vilified in the West, he is fast achieving the status of a cult hero in parts of the Arab world. [...] Millions of Arabs watched last Thursday as a satellite television station aired a three-year-old interview with him. Even moderate Arabs said afterwards they could identify with his criticism of America's support for Israel which still occupies Palestinian land. [...]
[Ordinary Saudis] would like US and British forces to leave Saudi Arabia. Many Saudi Islamists, who have little direct contact with the West, see these troops as colonial invaders, as latter-day crusaders come to defile the birthplace of Islam.”
BBC News (2001)27
Osama bin Laden iterates the same reasons each time - the injustice done to the Palestinians, the cruelty of continued sanctions against Iraq, the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia, the repressive and corrupt nature of US-backed Gulf governments - and he wins a good deal of popular sympathy.
Israel, which receives over 3 billion dollars in military support from America, is very much hated amongst the Arab world. Its presence and its continual conflicts with its neighbours have caused Israel to become to be seen as another Satan, a state controlled by America, even though much of the hatred is rooted in irrationality and religious-cultural beliefs who are genuinely wrong-headed.
“...Arab nations have lost three wars against their arch-foe - and America's closest ally - Israel. A sense of failure and injustice is rising in the throats of millions.
Three weeks ago, a leading Arabic newspaper, Al-Hayat, published a poem on its front page. A long lament about the plight of the Arabs, addressed to a dead Syrian poet, it ended:"Children are dying, but no one makes a move.
Houses are demolished, but no one makes a move.
Holy places are desecrated, but no one makes a move....
I am fed up with life in the world of mortals.
Find me a hole near you. For a life of dignity is in those holes."
It sounds as if it could have been written by a desperate and hopeless man, driven by frustration to seek death, perhaps martyrdom. A young Palestinian refugee planning a suicide bomb attack, maybe. In fact, it was written by the Saudi Arabian ambassador to London, a member of one of the wealthiest and most influential families in the kingdom that is Washington's closest Arab ally.
...From one end of the region to the other, the perception is that Israel can get away with murder - literally - and that Washington will turn a blind eye. Clearly, the US and Israel have compelling reasons for their actions. But little that US diplomats have done in recent years to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians has persuaded Arabs that the US is a fair-minded and equitable judge of Middle Eastern affairs.
Over the past year, Arab TV stations have broadcast countless pictures of Israeli soldiers shooting at Palestinian youths, Israeli tanks plowing into Palestinian homes, Israeli helicopters rocketing Palestinian streets. And they know that the US sends more than $3 billion a year in military and economic aid to Israel.”
Christian Science Monitor (2001)28
4. The Results of These Feelings
What it all Amounts to. Things I'd like to see change
On a personal and individual level, Americans and Europeans get on, individuals and parties are not hindered by politics. Frequently, in most sane people, all this is just politics and not something to take on a personal level with Americans. And rightly so, the solution is not in bickering or loss of friendship!
If a person outside of American culture is a hateful person, they may actively hate and verbally attack America. If the person takes this to include a hatred of Americans themselves, they are foolish and inconsiderate and have become a fool. If a person like this is brought up by people with vested interests in attacking America (and there are many), a person can be driven to take his opinions to a violent level. It is of utmost importance that we do not blame "Islam" or "Afghanistan" as a concept for the actions of such people, in the same way you would not blame all North American's because some American companies openly fund the IRA. Generic hatred is not solved or soothed by adding more layers of hatred.
I have a massive disgust for those in the Western world who have recently assaulted someone because they happen to be a Muslim. It is equal to violent racism. And on that note, it is the same inhumanity that allows the reasons above to amount to an individual hatred of Americans.
How do people see America?
Westerners see America as just another nation, the most commercially successful one, with a poor pollution record and other bad things. Also America is seen as a Police figure, although the UN's decisions are much more respected, it is frequently the US that has the required military power. America is a required nation, a stabilizer on the world.
Hatred becomes action - the cause & Conclusion
Hatred becomes action not due to apathy or indifference, but when a person wishes to act. When people are willing to kill themselves for a cause it is not due to a whim or immature persecution complex, there must be much stronger factors involved. People willing to go this far... and to maintain that mentality for periods of time to organize an attack and carry it out have got more of a grudge than a mere shallow hatred of success or jealousy.
When bare necessities are short, and the Western world still imposes sanctions and aid is unpredictable and scarce, people will always look to their oppressors as the enemy. When the chances arise, they will lash out at their perceived oppressors because it is the final attempt to free themselves from poverty.
Now, it is very true that they do not understand fully why the West, symbolized by America, appears to be suppressing them. They receive government propaganda and biased media all their lives, it is not their fault that they have been misled. Which I believe many of them have. It is the governments and leaders that are to blame. But more often than not, there is simply no available options to remove and replace a government without causing even more hatred amongst the populace.
American foreign policy and the issues listed in the list of criticisms of America serve to cause many nations to lose sympathy with America, and causes developing countries under fanatical leaders and poor governments to be easily convinced that America is The Great Satan (which has been the term given to America for many decades by the developing world). The reasons above all serve as instruments to convince people that anti-American hatred is correct, intellectually justified.
There is a belief and hope that if enough nations oppose America, the American people will realize what their government has been doing and will overthrow them. This hope is misguided, as anti-American actions are causing the opposite; they have been causing increasing hatred in return of Islamic or otherwise theocratic nations.
So there is a cycle, where neither side understands the other. The potential for chance lays in the ability to remove the propaganda that allows the Criticism-of-America issues above to be turned into hate.
I believe in some changes for the better;
America's self perception needs to change, to be brought back to Earth. To be made more modest. And therefore will regain respect and sympathy from the world
Theocracy needs to be removed from 'rogue states'. It may be that war, although causing more extreme anti-American hatred, is the only practical method as the governments have far too much and rabid support in their countries
America needs to understand (if it doesn't) that the populace of these countries are not to blame
The populace of Afghanistan, and other countries, need to learn that America is a scapegoat, and that their government uses it as a rallying method, to control them and pacify them
America should no longer use the method of supporting terrorism or armed conflict in one country to remove its present government. This has always backfired. All arms sold to the world, are arms that later need to be confiscated
But do not forget about sympathy
The whole world does not hate the USA. The masses of the world in the most part see it as imperfect, often an oppressor, often a humanitarian country, often wrong, often right. The hatred of America does not match the hatred of the United Kingdom 100 years ago. We did some seriously inhumane and undefendable things back then. We're constantly apologizing about it.
The USA has done terrible things too. The key is in apologizing. Although the government seems far from making any concessions, showing any humility or even the faintest sign of modesty, the world understands that the American people are hurt, and the world is sympathetic and caring. People in most nations know that American people are no less human than anyone else, trying their best. Governments and massive organisations, however, are frequently the last to realize when such Human emotions need to be brought to the forefront.
The USA has a child as a government, a young country which is only recently learning that actions last forever, something that plagues older nation's embarrassed leaders. The dislike of America is not as great as people's dislike for terrorism, its atrocities and oppression not as bad as Imperial England.
Current edition: 2001 Sep 24
Last Modified: 2009 Jun 03
Parent page: The United States of America
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References: (What's this?)
The Guardian. UK newspaper. See Which are the Best and Worst Newspapers in the UK?. Respectable and generally well researched UK broadsheet newspaper..
Becket and Chandler
(1994, Eds.) The Oxford History of the British Army. 2003 reissue of 1996 edition. Published by Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. Compiled in 1994..
(2002) "The USA Versus the Environment: Oil, Pollution and Kyoto" (2002). Accessed 2017 Dec 27.
(2003) "USA: Contempt for United Nations and International Folly" (2003). Accessed 2017 Dec 27.
(2017) "United States of America: Foreign Aid" (2017). Accessed 2017 Dec 27.
(2008) Flat Earth News. Hardback book. Published by Chatto & Windus, Random House, London, UK.
(1997) Sociology. Hardback book. 3rd edition. Originally published 1989. Current version published by Polity Press in association with Blackwell Publishers Ltd. The Amazon link is to a newer version..
Kegley & Wittkopf
(1987) American Foreign Policy. 3rd edition. Published by Wadsworth. Charles W Kegley, Jr, Uni South Carolina and Eugene R. Wittkopf, Uni Florida.
Sardar, Ziauddin and Davies, Merryl Wyn
(2002) Why Do People Hate America?.
(1995) Our Global Neighbourhood: The Report of the Commission on Global Governance. Original edition. Published by Oxford University Press.
- 2002 Aug 22. Initial reports stated 6000 deaths, I have changed the number stated to 2000 to reflect more accurate, later, figures.^
- Seumas Milne article "They can't see why they are hated" in The Guardian (2001 Sep 13) .^^
- Jeff Kandt (2001 Sep 13) on scrollbar.com. Accessed 2001.^^^
- Marshallz10 post "AntiAmerican Americans" (2001 Jun 16) on gardenweb forums.^
- BBC News (2002 May 22) "Berlin: City of protest". Added to this page on Added 2002 May 26.^
- Posted by "spf2119" on an ezboard forum thread started by Shaddax666.^^
- Ibid.6, post by PixelFish.
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