Skip to content

America Has Become "Politically Radioactive" (Update)

“Some sort of gripes of the globe, fluctuating in strength, manifest themselves in the critique of the United States,” says Jan Roß in the esteemed German weekly newspaper DIE ZEIT. “This anti-Americanism forms a new global ideology, the mainstream culture (“Leitkultur”) for all protest against the current state of affairs, like the different shades of socialism used to be over the last decades.”
This dominating undertone against the United States, claims Roß, transcends all tangible controversial issues at hand. It’s proved long-lasting and not confined to traditional foes or the losers of globalization. In fact, according to a BBC poll, dramatically fewer people, from the Philippines to India to Germany to South Korea, believe in a “mostly positive” influence of the US any longer. A divided attitude towards America “drives Europe and the Atlantic alliance apart; for most governments, everything American has become “politically radioactive”: Touch it, and you’re inevitably contaminated in the eyes of the voters at the next election.
Outside the transatlantic community, the idea takes root that the EU’s main raison d’être should be to “put the arrogant United States in place”. Asia doesn’t participate in the “global psycho-game with Americans in need to feel loved on the one hand and bitter Europeans or Arabs on the other hand; it just profits from it.”

UPDATE: Richard has translated one of the key paragraphs of the Zeit article "Anti-Americanism: The Global Bellyache." Thank you!
A kind of global bellyache in varying intensity is showing up in criticisms of the United States. Anti-Americanism is a new global ideology, the predominate culture of protest against prevailing relations, just as it was over decades for the various incarnations of Socialism (...)
The basic atmosphere against the United States reaches far beyond all the concrete questions in dispute. When Angela Merkel travels to Washington for the EU/USA summit at the beginning of next week, she'll encounter the tamest, most cooperative American regime in a long time.  At the meeting, a project to harmonize the transatlantic economy will be initiated, which doesn't really interest the Americans and which they're including mostly to humor the Chancellor. American diplomacy is doing overtime to deal with NATO and the Russians over the disputed missile defense szstem. The administration in Washington has given up its grandiose reform plan for the Islamic world, which was considered the height of madness in Europe, and is again backing the small potatoes of a traditional Mideast peace policy.  The weakend Bush II Administration, humiliated in Iraq, is probably a more docile partner than the Clinton administration, for which they still yearn in Europe, ever was.  But it's no use.  Everyone who comes into too close contact for too long becomes contaminated to the point of unelectability.  Great trembling in Germany's CDU/CSU began immediately when the SPD discovered the conflict and mobilization potential of the US missile defense plans.
UPPERDATE: Ray D. has translated the entire article for Davids Medienkritik.


No Trackbacks


Display comments as Linear | Threaded

Anonymous on :

Same thing goes on in Canada, Adbusters magazine recently had an issue which depicted on the cover Prime Minister Stephen Harper (of the new Conservative Party, sometimes colloquially referred to as the "Neo-Conservative Party") smooching US President George W Bush. Their close relationship is certainly the cause of much criticism of the current regime, and I expect them to pay heavily in the next election for this.

2020 on :

The U.S. isn't winning not only in Iraq. Even hard boiled Israeli hardliners go gaga if asked for a comment on America's role as a security factor.

Pat Patterson on :

And yet the latest Decima poll shows the Conservative Party down 3% to 31% approval while the mighty Liberal Party is...down 1% to 28%. While Steven Harper, according the SES Research is actually more popular now then right before the last election, 42% now versus 36% then. Something akin to Pres. Bush's approval ratings being around 30% versus the Democratic Congress with a staggering 25% approval. Pygmies in a telescope are still pygmies regardless of how huge they might appear. And the possibility that a somewhat pro-American Nikolas Sarkozy winning in the upcoming French national election can only prove that these annual claims of how toxic the US is in the world, might be grossly overstated. Of course in all honesty I don't think that Mr. Sarkozy will use either Pres. Bush or even Speaker Pelosi on any campaign stops or photo ops any time soon.

David on :

Actually approval of Congress is higher than over a year, as the Democrats confront Bush on the Iraq War. This according to the AP: "WASHINGTON - Public approval for Congress is at its highest level in a year as Democrats mark 100 days in power and step up their confrontation with President Bush over his handling of the Iraq War, the issue that overshadows all others. The findings from an AP-Ipsos nationwide poll provide a snapshot of public sentiment in the days after the House and Senate triggered a series of veto threats from the president by passing separate bills that provide funds for the war, yet also call for the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops."

Pat Patterson on :

Considering that Congress had an approval rating of 23% last year as compared to 33% this year is hardly proof of anything(Gallop Poll as of 4/2) except that Americans still, to quote Mark Twin, believe, "...that there is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." On the other hand Pres. Bush's approval rating (Rassmussen Report 4/29) is now at 41%, up 8% since last year. But again not really indicating much, except maybe that the last two years of every presidents term of office, except JFK, and possibly the current president showed declines in approval rating. All this is interesting in that these polls give some indication of what people are thinking but only the most timid of politicians would use them to formulate actual policy.

David on :

What Ross fails to point out in his article is that the global aversion to the US is largely the outcome of the Iraq War - seen by the world (and now most Americans) as unjust and immoral. One of the commenters in Die Zeit points this out: "über 60% der Amerikaner sind gegen den Irakkrieg - mittlerweile! Die meisten Bush-Gegner finden sich in den USA. Wer also die amerikanische Politk kritisiert und als Antiamerikanist beschimpft wird, kann sich in guter Gesellschaft wähnen. Es ist lächerlich, mit solchen Anti-Begriffen heutzutage noch hausieren zu gehen und Hetze zu betreiben. Kritik an Regierungen gehört zum demokratischen Denken dazu!" After 2008 there will be new (Democratic) leadership in the White House committed to withdrawing troops from Iraq and rebuilding global alliances and institutions. You will see this anti-Americanism quickly shift.

Don S on :

Victor Hanson has written an essay about what has come of American support for democracy in the Middle East. Because of the violence and general abuse universally (or so it seems) heaped upon the US, many Americans have turned their backs on the entire region. He quotes Bismark's remark: “The whole of the Balkans is not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier.” It is hard not to agree. I would also add that Europe has acted similarly to those in the Middle East, albeit with less overt ciolence (but rhetoric no less heated). I believe Europe runs the same risks of an American withdrawal. A 'New Isolationism'? I think not. There is no signs of American disengagement from and with Asia, Latin America, or Africa. I think the lack of overheated rhetoric (as prominently reported in the US news media) has much to do with that. If I were Europe's friend I'd advise them to tone things down an awful lot - things Europe fundamentally value (or ought to) are very much at stake. But as an increasingly convinced foe of NATO I hold no fears that this will happen. Europeans cannot and will not shut up about even the most minor greivances - and will continue to bring them up for years after the fact. Again and again. NATO will die because Americans are disengaging with Europe. Europe has come to mean a theme park in the eyes of Americans, not a vital strategic center of an essential alliance. The hinge of history is in Asia. NATO won't die suddenly, but with a whimper. It was left to die over the past decade and will take it's time about it. Europe ceased to invest in NATO with the fall of the Berlin wall. The US has belatedly caught up with the plan and has followed Europe's lead.

Don S on :

There is a bit of a paradox here which needs to be discussed. The US is currently in a position as the sole global superpower where it needs the good opinions and cooperation of many other countries to fulfill the role. Those good opinions having been withdrawn (sometimes for somewhat good reason but frequently for spurious reasoning and envy, the US finds it virtually impossible to fulfill it's role. Yet part of the strength of the US lies in it's strategic position on a continent with no credible threats of any great importance, The US existed for many years in a kind of splendid isolation having little truck with countries outside of North America apart for trading matters. We could do it again if necessary. A lot of this has been driven by the needs of Europe, particularly Europe's need for the US to trump the threat of a resurgent Germany after WWII. These are the 'lessons of history' which Joerg and other atlanticists cite. Yet there is good reason to believe that the German genie has finally been bottled and with that development Europeans have come to have ever less tolerance for the US as superpower. Or rather they are willing to tolerate the superpower but only as a complete puppet of Europe. The US is not to take action without the active concurrence of a long list of (mostly) European nations - a recipe for paralysis. Given these developments why should the US not take up splendid isolation again - at least vis continental Europe and South Korea? Not as punishment (though it may be taken as such) but as the most rational policy choice. Engage on trading matters but allow most of you to go to hell in the manner of your own choosing? The 'lesson of history' may be that without the US security guarantee that Europe will fall into nationalistic chaos. I don't buy that argument at all (excpet perhaps on the periphery. But even if it were so why should anyone in the US care? What is there in Continental Europe that is worth 'the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier' (the quote Bismark)?

Add Comment

E-Mail addresses will not be displayed and will only be used for E-Mail notifications.

To prevent automated Bots from commentspamming, please enter the string you see in the image below in the appropriate input box. Your comment will only be submitted if the strings match. Please ensure that your browser supports and accepts cookies, or your comment cannot be verified correctly.

Form options