Hate America- defeat the U.N.?
After September 11th America engaged in a spasm of self-examination. Every pundit, talking head, editorial board and average Joe asked "Why do they hate us?"
A few choice quotes from around the globe tell the tale (at least in the haters eyes):
1. The American “heart is frozen, their society cold, their empire cruel.”
2. It is a country of “32 religions and only one dish … and even that [is] inedible.”
3. “I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion.”
4. “America is a mistake, a gigantic mistake.”
5. "The United States is “the most dangerous power the world has ever known.”
I am sure it would not surprise you to know the first three quotes are French, the fourth is Austrian and the last British. That we have issues in the Euro-zone is not earthshaking news. Consider this, though. Quote number one is from 1749, by the Comte de Buffon
a renowned French scientist. Number two is by Talleyrand
a famous French politician from the 1790s. Number three is by the French social philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville
(1835) who's book "Democracy in America
" is required reading for history and American Studies students across America. Quote number four is by Sigmund Freud
(1930) an Austrian psychiatrist you may have heard of. Number five is from 2001 by British playwright Harold Pinter
. These quotes come from Hating America: A History
by Barry Rubin, Judith Colp Rubin.
I am sure it would, however, surprise a great many of the home-grown anti-American apologists in America to find out that there is enough material out there to write a book on this subject that covers more than the last four years or so of history. My point? The reason they hate us is not George W. Bush, leader of the free world, and the situation is not likely to change anytime soon.
I'm not going to attempt to explain why they hate us, or the historical roots of anti-Americanism, many have already attempted to do so, and I'll allude to or quote some of those folks as we go along. My question is: "what does all of the ill will in the world towards America mean for us, and for the world, today?
Ambassador Charles J. Swindells, our Ambassador to New Zealand (never been there, so don't bother asking if that is where I am) gave an excellent speech to the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs in August 2004, addressing anti-Americanism. He took pains to clarify that we Americans do not feel "that factual, well-reasoned criticism of a U.S. Government policy or some aspect of American society is anti-American" and goes on to say that "if you have caused us to examine ourselves and re-examine the facts, if you have forced us to avoid complacency, you will have contributed to making the United States a better nation and Americans a better people."
We can take legitimate, reasoned, factual criticism. No cries of interference or violation of sovereignty, no pleas to the U.N. to make it stop. Imagine then, if tomorrow, as an American Diplomat I publicly decry the "honor killings" of women who have been raped which are going on throughout Islamic countries. The hue and cry would be tumultuous, and someone, perhaps a colleague or friend, could die for it. Think about that for a moment.
Farther into the speech the Ambassador goes on to pose a series of scenarios, all follwed by the question: " How should America respond to this?" Most of them are excellent, here is my favorite:
Failure to spend enough on defense to meet security needs will result in increased dependence on someone else and reduced ability to implement an independent foreign policy; How should America respond to this?
This is an especially powerfull theme, which drives the Euros insane. Couple this with the last major point the Ambassador makes, regarding the U.N, and you can see why. He points out that one of the ideals of the U.N. is collective security, and that to provide this security America plays a major role in everything the U.N. does from supplying the lions-share of the budget to peacekeeping, ergo sum filling the void.
He goes on to say:
"In order for collective security to work, it [U.N.]must aim for the security of all the members of the collective. Ignoring the real concerns of any member, including the United States, undermines collective security. Using UN institutions as a means to limit U.S. economic and military power, is not only doomed to failure, it undermines the very concept of collective security. Those who try to use the United Nations in this way... are not just anti-American -- they are anti-United Nations."
If that is indeed the case than anti-Americanism should tend to harm the rest of the world at least to the extent, if not more so, than it harms America. That was certainly the case for one unlucky French woman who is referred to in the New Zealand speech. She was killed four years ago when countrymen of hers, disgusted that people prefer hot fries to snails, blew up a franchise where the woman worked.
The Ambassador closes with a quote he credits to the N.Y. Times, which I have tracked down and quoted at greater length:*:
"Therein lies another exquisite irony: the costs of anti-Americanism will be borne not by Americans, but by others. And their numbers are vast: Cubans, North Koreans, Zimbabweans, and countless others suffer and starve under their respective tyrannies because the democratic world's chattering classes, obsessed with denouncing the United States, can't be bothered with holding their criminal regimes to account. Meanwhile, in Iraq, fascist rabble, with no discernible political program save a pledge to kill more Americans, try desperately to extinguish the slightest hope of democracy, economic growth, and stability for that long-suffering land; but the world, instead of helping to beat back the wolves at the door, basks in anti-American schadenfreude. How countless are the political problems, cultural pathologies, and humanitarian disasters that fester unnoticed, all over the globe, as the anti-American cult, wallowing in ecstatic bigotry, desperately scrutinizes every utterance of the Bush administration for new critical fodder.
Indeed, it is not the slightest exaggeration to say that in 2004, anti-American sentiment has become the biggest single obstacle to human progress. It sustains repressive dictatorships everywhere; excuses corruption, torture, the oppression of women, and mass murder; provides ideological oxygen for vile, stupid "revolutionary movements" like the Maoist insurgents in Nepal; and has even promoted the spread of disease (as when, for example, Europeans haughtily dismissed Bush's AIDS initiative as insincere - God forbid that they should concur with any policy of the wicked Bush, even at the cost of a few million more African lives). By focusing monomaniacally on "why America is wrong", instead of asking "what is right", the global anti-American elite has massively failed to fulfill the most fundamental responsibility of the intellectual class: to provide dispassionate, truthful analysis that can guide society to make proper decisions. And it has contemptuously cast aside the irreplaceable, post-Cold War opportunity to irreversibly consolidate the "liberal revolution" praised by Revel - in which inheres the only true hope of lasting, global peace and development - all in the name of redressing the gaping psychological insecurities of its members."
I firmly beleive that anti-Americanism is endangering the peoples of the world today. Every day regular Americans look at the world and say "let's just disengage, bring the troops home from South Korea and let's see what happens". My own mother has said this to me, watching South Korean students burn Old Glory on the news. Eventually, if enough people think this way, we will withdraw somewhat. Do I think this is a good idea? Not really, but it sure is tempting. I can easily imagine a situation similar in feel, if not in scope, to that which existed in America between the World Wars, returning today. The cop on the beat may need a rest.
I didn't mean to devote so much space to Ambassador Swindells' speech, but it really struck a chord with me. I hope you read the entire speech. In my next post I am going to offer why I think anti-Americanism may have become the E.U.'s raison d'etre, and try to further answer the question I started this post with.
*[Note: I couldn't find this on the Times website, but found it here, as part of a review of a book by a French author calling for support of America- wonders never cease!]