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"The Strongest Trans-Atlantic Relations..."

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee accused the Bush administration of having an "arrogant bunker mentality" on foreign policy. Secretary Rice responded:

We have right now probably the strongest trans-Atlantic relations ... I would say in a very long time. (...) We're working with allies in Europe, Russia and China on Iran. The (NATO) alliance is mobilized together in Afghanistan.

Phillip Carter over at Intel Dump believes "Condi succumbs to the Kool-Aid:"

Strongest trans-Atlantic relations in a "very long time"? Are you serious? I mean, maybe I'm nostalgic for the good old days of the Marshall Plan and the Berlin Airlift, or even the good old days of the 1980s when NATO stood against the Soviet threat. I wouldn't say our relations with Europe and the world are all that stellar right now. But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe there's some super secret diplomacy going on, and the Germans and French are really our best friends right now. Maybe underneath all that anti-American sentiment and rhetoric on the streets of Europe, they still do think we're that bright shining city on a hill.

I basically agree, except for the last sentence, which is far too black and white, even for provocative closing words. It sounds too much like: You either love us or if you don't, you apparently must hate us. (Related post in the Atlantic Review: The Anti-Americans and the Manichaean Narcissists.)

IMHO Anti-American sentiment on the street should not be used as the main indicator of how good or bad transatlantic relations are. BBQs between our heads of government should not be used as the main indicator either. Instead, all that counts is how well we cooperate regarding Afghanistan, climate change, Middle East, trade, counter-terrorism, Kosovo etc. And here, I believe, cooperation is not as strong as it could and should be.

But, let's face it: Have Europe and the US ever cooperated that much on such a wide range of global issues? During the Cold War transatlantic cooperation was limited to a few policy areas. European and American leaders did not bother themselves with doing something about climate change. NATO did not send 20,000 troops to some far away country.

Today's transatlantic agenda is longer than it ever was before. Perhaps that is what Secretary Rice was referring to. Therefore it is okay, that we do not agree on everything.

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chirol on :

"Today's transatlantic agenda is longer than it ever was before. Perhaps that is what Secretary Rice was referring to. Therefore it is okay, that we do not agree on everything." A great closing statement and one that is not repeated often enough. I have to say that in the gazillions of articles I've read in both the German and American news that most important of points is always forgotten.

David on :

Huckabee is spot-on in his criticism. I like the way he is shaking up the Republican Party.

Kevin Sampson on :

'IMHO Anti-American sentiment on the street should not be used as the main indicator of how good or bad transatlantic relations are.' Why not? Are you saying that European governments are not representative of their citizen’s views? 'Instead, all that counts is how well we cooperate regarding Afghanistan, climate change, Middle East, trade, counter-terrorism, Kosovo etc. And here, I believe, cooperation is not as strong as it could and should be.' No government, except a totalitarian one, can act in direct contravention of it's citizens views indefinately. Which is why I believe trans-Atlantic cooperation is about as good as can be expected right now, and probably better than what we'll see in the future.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

Neither Germany nor the US is a [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_democracy]"direct democracy."[/url] There many legitimate reasons why the popular will of the people is often ignored. "No government, except a totalitarian one, can act in direct contravention of it's citizens views indefinately." Sure, but Anti-Americanism is not one of the top 20 issues, that makes people vote for a certain candidate/party. In general, Anti-Americanism is usually just talking. When you want to measure the strength of transatlantic relations, you should look at what Europe and the US are doing together. Not how they talk about each other. This is international politics. Not a soap opera. Too harsh? Maybe. Perhaps Anti-Americanism on the street is some sort of indicator for things to come, but I doubt it. If you consider the Anti-American rhetoric on the street important, then what do you make of these interviews with the ordinary men and women on US streets? What country to attack next: [url]http://youtube.com/watch?v=Ihf_qdaX_G8[/url]

Kevin Sampson on :

'Sure, but Anti-Americanism is not one of the top 20 issues, that makes people vote for a certain candidate/party.' It got Shroeder elected. 'When you want to measure the strength of transatlantic relations, you should look at what Europe and the US are doing together.' OK, enlighten me. What are we doing together? And the video clip is pathetic, Joerg. Besides starting with a pre-supposition (what country should be invaded next), you think they might have cherry-picked those responses?

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

[quote]"It got Shroeder elected."[/quote] He got a few extra votes because of it. And this time those few extra votes mattered. That's all. Nothing more, nothing less. Check this out: [url=http://atlanticreview.org/archives/893-The-Fantasy-of-a-Pro-America-Europe.html]"It takes a robust sense of self-importance to assume that national elections on the other side of the Atlantic are nothing more than referenda on relations with America."[/url] [quote]"OK, enlighten me. What are we doing together?"[/quote] Please read my post again. [quote]"And the video clip is pathetic, Joerg."[/quote] Oh, really? Yeah, congratulations for getting the irony. Perhaps you could now respond to my above question surrounding that video clip: "If you consider the Anti-American rhetoric on the street important, then what do you make of these interviews with the ordinary men and women on US streets?" [quote]"you think they might have cherry-picked those responses?"[/quote] Yeah, right, when Europeans or -- in this case -- Australians interview Americans on the street, then the respondents are all cherry-picked just like the audience of a Bush townhall meeting. If, however, Americans interview European or Arabs on the street than it is always an accurate representation of what "the Arab street" or the Europeans think. I have quoted Intel Dump in the above post: "Maybe underneath all that anti-American sentiment and rhetoric on the streets of Europe." How does he know about the Anti-American sentiment? Perhaps by "documentaries" full of cherry-picked Europeans. See the link in my post to [url=http://atlanticreview.org/archives/839-The-Anti-Americans-and-the-Manichaean-Narcissists.html]"The Anti-Americans and the Manichaean Narcissists.[/url]"

Kevin Sampson on :

‘He got a few extra votes because of it. And this time those few extra votes mattered. That's all. Nothing more, nothing less.’ You don’t think that’s significant? But I’m glad you agree it got him elected. ‘Please read my post again.’ I did, and I reiterate; what are we doing together? ‘Perhaps you could now respond to my above question surrounding that video clip: "If you consider the Anti-American rhetoric on the street important, then what do you make of these interviews with the ordinary men and women on US streets?" I did respond to it: It’s pathetic. Please read my post again. ‘Yeah, right, when Europeans or -- in this case -- Australians interview Americans on the street, then the respondents are all cherry-picked just like the audience of a Bush townhall meeting.’ When the responses are as uniformly extreme as those in the clip, you’re damn right. ‘If, however, Americans interview European or Arabs on the street than it is always an accurate representation of what "the Arab street" or the Europeans think.’ Not at all. I wouldn’t consider any interview(s) of the sort featured in the clip, conducted by anyone, representative of anything, precisely because they are so easy to manipulate. On the subject of anti-Americanism, though, there is no reason to resort to such dubious sources to ascertain what Europeans think. One need look no farther than the ‘Have Your Say’ forums of the BBC World News webpage or Spiegel’s Atlantic Forum on Der Spiegel’s English language webpage to hear it straight form the horse’s mouth, as it were. By the way, in my response to the original post I posed the question “Are you saying that European governments are not representative of their citizen’s views?” After having been reminded of the Treaty of Lisbon, I withdraw what was, in retrospect, a stupid question.

Tuomas on :

I believe you to be misinformed with regard to what made Schröder elected, and in particular with regard to the differences between the main opponents in that election on the point of German participation in an invasion of Iraq, but if you have any relevant sources, why not to present them?

SC on :

"During the Cold War transatlantic cooperation was limited to a few policy areas." Well, if you focus on transatlantic cooperation between the US and the countries of Western Europe then those areas have loomed large, wouldn't you say? The consequences of security cooperation have been felt worldwide with the collapse of the Soviet Union. If you expand your points of policy to include economics generally, and finance in particular, then there has been and remains a great deal of cooperation much of which continues uncommented on by headline writers. Note finance in particular; because the structures negotiated and the organizations that have grown up around them have shaped the dynamics of today's world economy: no mean achievement. Your essential point is certainly correct that while cooperation and agreement are preferred, disagreements should be expected and seen as normal.

Don S on :

Excellent points, SC. The WTO, World Bank, IMF, and many of the UN organisations matter and have seriously shaped our world. And the European effort to change the relationship from a bilateral one (European-US) to a multilateral one (US just one of many countries all with equal say) also is having an effect. As is the rise of India, China, Brazil, Korea, et al.

SC on :

Thank you, Don. The organizations you list are very much products of transatlantic cooperation and define many of the rules of the game these days. Those organizations and rules have come to distinguish the post-1945 world from what preceded it. They even form the framework in which, it is to be hoped, China manages a "soft landing" as it's economy and political system slowly modernize. Your last point is a good one concerning a European goal of promoting multilateralisms. There too, however, I think there is probably more agreement across the Atlantic than is often recognized when points of disagreement tend to be highlighted.

Don S on :

SC, the point that many miss is that there is a fundamental problem in the European efforts promoting more or less 'pure' multilateralism. That problem is the persistent imbalance in national power and (perhaps more important) national willingness to do the more difficult jobs in keeping the 'New World Order' in order. Europeans seem to me to wish to have more say (and collectively the decisive say) on most matters, but Europe has not stepped up to the challenge of providing the resources to back their fine words. Thus the actual implementation of the European multilaterist vision has degenerated into a system where the Europeans wish to give the orders - but leave the messy details to unpaid and despised American myrmidons. They are however very willing to host the war crime tribunals at the Hague afterward to punish said myrmidons for carrying out their orders. This seems - unbalanced. I would prefer the Germans to carry out the 'war crimes' and Americans manning the tribunals. Failing that - let's construct a 'new world order' in which policymaking and implementation are balanced. The current 'worl order' is unfair and unacceptable to the US and needs to be fundamentally reformed. If it cannot be reformed critical parts of it must be ended. Starting with NATO.

SC on :

Heh! Well, I've been saying for some time now, that Europeans generally will have their chance, in a number of areas, to take the lead in the coming years. To begin with, whether we stay or leave Iraq and Afghanistan, it will be very hard for the next President to summon support for any projection of hard power for some new purpose, and if all the writing on this site is indicative of fact, there is little "soft power" to expend for some grand international design. If a Democrat is elected to the Presidency, you can expect full-blown opposition from Republicans because they probably won't gain ground in the Congressional elections. If Republican is elected; well, enough said. Moises Naim of Foreign Policy may be "hungering for America" (see WaPo column liked to the side and above), but from my little perch in the heartland, I don't see an America, beyond the collective of NY-Washington "apparatchik" with whom he's most familiar, desirous of satisfying his hunger. Now that may be enough. After all, that's where the power is. But I wouldn't bet my house on it.

Tuomas on :

Words from diplomats and foreign ministers (and "secretaries" of countries run like the US) are uttered with an intention, but they are not intended to be analyzed as if they were spoken by scholars. So what's ms Rice's message here? She signals, and not for the first time, that the government she is a servant of aspires to improve the transatlantic relations. Nothing wrong with that. Actually, it's kind of reassuring, if you ask me. At this moment, ms Rice does not speak with the voice of an imperial master to her transatlantic servants. Next time THAT occurs, that will indicate Europe being in Very Big Trouble. At this time, it seems as if the imperial masters in Washington have started to realize that the West-Europeans are a lot less desperate for US support than they used to be during the Cold War; and hence that a certain degree of independent thinking in Europe is no sign of hatred or anti-Americanism, but just normal and what to be expected.

Dr who on :

Thank you for an interesting debate. As an Australian myself, its fair to say that public sensibilities here are more attuned to that of Britain and of Europe generally as that is where our culture and the people originated from. As such, like in Europe, there is widespread anti american feeling here amongst the public (which has increased in recent years and is nowadays quite open and de rigeur, however there is a clear gap between the public and the politicians, of whom the latter are servile toward the U.S but are increasingly concerned that the public is simply not with them or their masters in Washington. (Its amusing to see them flaying about). The recently defeated Howard government here paid the price in part because of this Americanism but the new Rudd government is still seen as far to pro American but the lesser of two evils. Thus across the country, we lampoon the americans, and in answer to a point on interviewing americans, we do air responses that confirm our views of americans as stupid, aggressive and unworldly. There is some debate here though as to whether 'vox pop' interviews with americans are 'fixed'as to show the silliest twits we can find, or whether these are typical americans. The debate is ongoing...... The truth is that in Australia, there has always been anti american feeling here but recent years have seen it finally emerge as an open sentiment and really politicians and their lackeys on both sides of the Pacific have been living in a fools paradise on how much "The Aussies love the Yanks and vice versa". Really most americans have no idea about Australia or even where we are or like and Australians don't care for americans at all as we're not alike and the further away they are the better as people resent the grip they have on our country. Its bound to get worse as the U.S has gravely damaged its reputation in recent years and now Howard has been voted out, all politicians are aware just how careful they have to be on this issue. Howard paid the price of hubris and suffered for it. Thank you for an interesting debate.

Pat Patterson on :

What's the set term for "hubris" in Australia? It's seems odd to imply that Howard was brought down for kowtowing to Americans after doing so for eleven years. That's the second longest term in Australian history. That's like Pliny the Younger claiming that the eruptions at Pompeii and Herculaneum were signs of the impdending collapse of the Roman Empire. He was eventually right 250 years later.

dr who on :

Dear Pat, Thanks for your thoughts. In reply, its useful to recall the Howard years. Australian's were out for revenge in the early '90's after the recession here,however that was tempered by the contingent of having a decent opposition to replace the Keating govt, who most people blamed. Thus by 1993, Keating was in the sights of voters, but the conservative Liberal party was not up to the job and so they lost what should have been an easy election. Then in 1996 Howard ws back as opposition leader of the Liberal party and the Keating Govt was thrashed. The widespread lesson here is, voters will kick out an unpopular/incompetant govt but only if there is a viable opposition. Howard's early years were unremarkable with the U.S, a Clinton govt. barely gave him a 20 min meeting during one visit. Only since 2001 have things gone Howard way, with the Bush govt. and Howard pledging Australian unconditional support reflexively for whatever the U.S wished. This has alienated people here as Howard's lies, bullying and indeed hubris have racked up over time. Coupled with similar domestic hubris, Howard paid the price as his Americanism was particularly strident and repulsive for most people here. Indeed so open is the anti american feeling here, that one is hard pressed to find anyone with a kind word to say about the Americans these days. Howard paid the price of not listening. Indeed it was fairly clear that since late 2006, Howard was doomed as he'd alienated so many people, in many areas including foreign affairs that as soon as the opposition got it's house in order and presented a viable alternative, it was over for Howard, losing office and the humiliation of his parlimentary seat as well!. To transpose your analogy of Howard being the second longest leader in our history, he's also the second PM to lose his seat in an election too!. So it seems with the nature of 2nd, there seems to be a lot of it about eh!. (wink). I hope this clears matters up Pat on this issue and thank you for your novel historical juxtapositional patina on this issue Verbum sapienti satis have a good weekend. Dr who

SC on :

Interesting. I'm curious how it is that all or most Australians have come by the prejudice regarding Americans which you ascribe to them. I'm also curious about the following statement: "The truth is that in Australia, there has always been anti american feeling here but recent years have seen it finally emerge as an open sentiment and really politicians and their lackeys on both sides of the Pacific have been living in a fools paradise on how much 'The Aussies love the Yanks and vice versa'". "(A)nd vice versa"; "fools paradise"; I see: As an Australian, you obviously have a better sense of your countrymen than I. But, on what personal experiences or empirical evidence do you base, what appears to be, your belief that there is now, or ever has been, among Americans a corresponding, general, but hidden, antipathy toward Australians? Or, was this simply matter of overreach for the sake of a phrase?

Dr who on :

Dear SC, As you point out, yes I'm Australian and know the place and the people well enough over time about the place. Simply, over the years, one hears and sees the wide gap between the public and the 'leaders' . You must understand here we have a culture of anti authority and politicians are about as popular as used car salesmen or similar types of dubious distinction, so naturally when politicans waffle on about their support for the U.S, its bound to get rejected . Secondly, there is a long history of the U.S leading Australia up the garden path in foreign wars, and generally pushing us around. As I tried to explain, its been low level disgruntlement by ordinary people but I've always been aware of it growing up and now as an adult, from school in the country to my life today. Our culture is to criticise 'big headedness' which we call the tall poppy syndrome, which basically means cut down those who get above themselves. From what I understand, the U.S celebrates high achievers, where we cut them down which likely stems from our British heritage of quiet self effacing sensibility. Recent years have seen something new, with the anti american feeling becoming open as the contradictions of the U.S become more pronounced and the Howard Govt.siding with that attribute. At one stage if anyone dared criticise the U.S, Howard or his mnisters would label them as "anti american", as if it were some sin. This made people wonder whom Howard was supposed to be standing for, Australia or a foreign country, few had any affection for. So yes Dear SC, I'm afraid people in the U.S and the 'leadership' in Australia have been quite wrong for decades about the affection Australians have for the U.S, the (at best) scepticsm has always been there and politicians are the last to notice anything let alone address the matter, but recent U.S behaviour has been so bad, its made people here open wonder "and these are supposed to be our allies!". As for the U.S people, again its common knowledge here that most 'yanks' know practically nothing about Australia, where we are, what we're like, confusing us with Austria in Europe etc. There have been just too many examples where Australians visit the U.S and the Americans know nothing about us, thinking that; we live in mud huts, do we have giraffes here, do we speak English etc. The list is endless. Amusingly, the press here has always had a special and ironic "only in America " story where people tell of their experiences with Americans and how little they know about Australia and how 'odd' the yanks are!. Always good for a few laughs. So to cut a long explanation short my friend, yes I suggest there is a certain 'fools paradise' in Australia- U.S relations and perceptions. Scepticism always been extant here toward the U.S, politicians are the last to know anything and they live in a world of delusion here. Howard was just more overt about his Americanistic views and it came at a time when the U.S seems as mad as a demented Dalek throughout the world. The U.S sees also only what it wants to see and it never seems to occur to them that sycophantic politicians don't necessarily represent the public mood. Hence Mr Bush etc is reviled here and yet the man and those like him still persist in thinking Howard and others speak for most Australians, when the reality is most people here are 'off side'. This is all common knowledge here my friend, so I'm sorry if its a surprise to you, but its best that truth will out!. Thank you for your questions and I hope I've answered them adequetely. Good health to you DR WHO

SC on :

"As for the U.S people, again its common knowledge here that most 'yanks' know practically nothing about Australia, where we are, what we're like, confusing us with Austria in Europe etc. There have been just too many examples where Australians visit the U.S and the Americans know nothing about us, thinking that; we live in mud huts, do we have giraffes here, do we speak English etc." Ah, my good doctor, but "common knowledge" is all too often apocryphal, and as you have yourself suggested, mere prejudice. But come now, I asked for empiricism and your personal experience in these matters. Tell me of your travels in the States. Have you indeed encountered, as widely as you suggest, the behaviors you describe? I can tell you of a pleasant gent in Cardiff who upon encountering my wife couldn't quite distinguish between Thailand and Taiwan. Ahem, a more than small difference, as you know. I wonder, do think this deficiency widespread in the UK? Hmmmm . . . what to make of it, eh? And, what to make of this antipathy toward Australians among Americans you cite?

Dr who on :

My Dear SC, Back from my weekend and to answer your questions I first correct your suggestion in the use of the world 'prejudice' and the linkage toward Americans. I'm sure you had no intent of verballing me, but I must correct you by saying it was you and not me that used the word prejudice. In that regard, I again suggest you're incorrect as scepticism, disagreement and dislike toward America and Americans doesn't translate into prejudice when one has examples that cause that scepticism, disagreement and dislike. Evidence my dear chap, evidence. Example: I dislike cabbage, having tried it, the taste is unpalatable to me, similarly people here and elsewhere can dislike, disagree and be sceptical of Americans for valid and not be prejudiced. Its important to be clear methinks. As for evidence, well firstly we have polls done here in Australia over the years that point for sinking regard and support for the U.S amongst Australians. Instances include; Australians regard the U.S as an equal threat to world peace as radical islamism, Australia pays too much attention to the U.S in foreign policy, people here dislike U.S culture and its undermining of our own, few trust the U.S to solve problems in the world and a growing number of people here have had bad experiences at the hands of Americans etc. Mr Bush is seen in a poor light too. Poll after poll here and from overseas sources. Its worrisome for politicians and their lackeys here as the public simply isn't on side with Americanism. We look to the U.N for legitimate solutions to problems, and the U.S generally is seen in the same league as certain middle east nations and other despotic regimes. Popularity much less than 50% favourability. By contrast, NZ rates very high, then Great Britain and then China. The U.S is well down the list. Australians take a pragmatic view that the 'yanks' should keep their distance and support for alliances is only extant in a pragmatic sense. Certainly there is support, but its tempered by Australians views of the U.S and its people. American bullying of Australia, interference in our internall affairs and wrongful chararacterisations of Australians by Americans don't help your case. Nonsense that both our nations are similar in terms of values (we're not) and both are "pioneer nations" (whatever that means), may work with sycophantic politicians, but leave the public cold and off side. Australians are anti authority, increasingly irreligious and don't like big headed bullies, so thats hardly likely to engender affinity as these charactristics define America. Along with erroneous depictions of Australia by Americans, every incident simply widens the gap between us. So yes I suggest there is a real societal absess betwen us and unfortunately Americans either lack the ability to desire to look too hard at the reality of the situation, looking beyond sycophantic politicisns here selling out to America, and not seeing the real public feeling here manifest in numerous studies here especially in recent years. As I say, living here all my life, one hears things no matter where one goes, demonstrating real antipathy toward the U.S, especially in recent years. From school, work, shops, sporting fixtures etc. Right across the spectrum of society, its hard to find anyone with a kind word to say about America here, especially in the past 7 years or so where its more open than ever. Unfortunately Americans off all persuasions and especially the politicians there have been living in a fools paradise and seeing only what they want to see. The truth is, Australians are not with you . I'm sorry if you find this notion distressing and American is even more friendless then you think, but truth will out!. As for my own experiences, well both professionally and personally I've had my fair share of abuse and unpleasantness from Americans over the years. I can only think of perhaps 4 Americans I've gotten along with in short durations and thats not in much detail either. The rest of the Americans I've spoken to have been truely awful types across society. Rude, intolerant, highly aggressive, abusive, and just plain stupid and ignorant. Oddly when I meet others from other nations, I never have any problems and I'm the same with everyone, only the Americans have been trouble. I'm an affable sort too, quiet, self effacing and friendly. Quick with a joke and a sporting person in many area's, but I'm sad to say that far from being "warm and friendly" which American's self romantically claim they are, I've found the opposite. Its very off putting and so in that regard, no I've certainly not been to the U.S, as to coin a phrase, Once bitten, twice shy, although in my case, its more like 95% of the time,bitten, twice shy. So I avoid America and take my skills, ideas elsewhere- anywhere but America, as my experiences are more telling than the self romantic propaganda Americans fool themselves with. Its a mystery to me why it is so, but I have codified it in 4 main stages. At the risk of sounding like Sir Humphrey Appleby... Stage 1, Over active greeting from American and invitations Stage 2, I express my view, findings, opinion which seems to run counter to 'the American view' this is rejected almost automatically. Stage 3, Puzzlement and then criticisms from Americans toward me for having a different view, finding etc Stage 4, One knows one is in this stage when the said Americans can't get a recantation from me and then either ignore or virulently abuse me with a choice of colourful words that only apply in their country, such as "liberal", Communist, terrorism supporter and a whole plethora of robust epithets I can recall over the years..... Its hard at times to remain calm, but one does my best to brush it off and then move on. Human being are always squabbling over something eh!. So dear SC, I almost always find this expericence both professionally and personally. Thus for me, I've enough evidence to base a firm conclusion that America and its people are to be avoided as the place is intolerant, ignorant and just too dangerous to go to. As one intimates, I have no trouble elsewhere and these days I'm visiting Europe a lot where my work, skills and ideas are well received which is nice and I make friends easily. So this is a summary of my experiences, so any contact I now have with Americans is at arms length and even here perhaps this forum will for once be an exception- one lives in hope. Awfully sorry to take so long, but one likes to to be thorough. As for your experience in Britain, I'm not surprised, are you sure they weren't pulling your leg?. I know I like to have some fun with people a lot.... thanks for your time and good health, Dr who

SC on :

Well, we now seem to be off by ourselves on this little thread. And yes, you certainly have devoted more than a small number of keystrokes to the matter at hand. Let me respond to your last question first: No, the man was not pulling my leg; he was indeed confused as subsequent conversation revealed. He was also not the only person to make this mistake in the UK. I might add that I have found this confusion in the US as well, as I'm sure will not surprise you, and also with people of other nationalities in other places. Geographic ignorance? Perhaps, but there are other explanations. Widespread? Hard to say. Offended by these encounters? No; and I can speak for my wife as well as myself on this. Make of this what you will, but the purpose of my question was to see how you would respond. Your response was interesting and consistent with all you have written before: Rather than propose something as simple as my accent coupled with the resulting closeness in sound of Taiwan and Thailand - which by the way, accounts for more confusion to the American ear than you might suppose when hearing Austria and Australia in an accented voice, you went directly to suggest, in your question, an inability on my part. It's possible that all you've written so far is one large leg pull; and I do consider that a possibility, though I wonder if others reading your posts will think so. If that is the case, then I think you could have accomplished the same with less. However, not seeing the need to think otherwise, I've taken you at your word. As I wrote above, your response to my question was consistent with what you wrote before: something of a, oh say, smarmy condescension: the felt need to apologize for informing of what, clearly, you feel I don't know; a tone thankfully absent even in what passes for a heated exchange on this site. Now, given our exchange, this is rather amusing to me, actually, given that you know, well, actually very little about me, much less my experience. And yet, you do seem to have formed an opinion and certainly have a well formed attitude. Do I find this disturbing or offensive? Hardly. Amusing, yes. Yes, because the world I live in is filled with strong wills and personalities, most greeted with a shrug. This however, is not the typical world of most people, Americans included. Now I can not speak to the causes or the circumstances of the indignities you've personally suffered at the hands of the Americans you've met. But, if the attitude you've shown so far in your writing is at all indicative of a predisposition when encountering Americans, it doesn't surprise me that these encounters have gone less than well. You are correct when you point out that you never wrote the word "prejudice". But let's consider a definition taken from Webster's online: "2 a (1): preconceived judgment or opinion (2): an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge." Now, you have ascribed to your countrymen certain beliefs, opinions, and judgements of Americans - none of which I questioned, by the way: "Thus across the country, we lampoon the americans, and in answer to a point on interviewing americans, we do air responses that confirm our views of americans as stupid, aggressive and unworldly. There is some debate here though as to whether 'vox pop' interviews with americans are 'fixed'as to show the silliest twits we can find, or whether these are typical americans." A bit later was written "The Aussies love the Yanks and vice versa" as a justification for the assertion that politicians were mistaken in their belief that Americans "love" Australians. These quotes were what prompted my first query. The first quote, taken as written in describing the confirmation of a held view, meets the definition of prejudice, because a moment's thought would reveal that most Australians, while they may well have a view of American foreign policy and its conduct, simply haven't enough experience to draw the conclusion you've written about Americans and their culture. Are there those who have enough experience and yet draw this conclusion? I'm sure there are; just as I'm sure from personal experience there are those with the requisite experience who would disagree. In the second quote, I asked for the basis on which you presume to speak for the views of Americans generally regarding Australia and its people favorable or not. I may have missed it in your lengthy discourse, but I don't believe you responded. Now, you can presume to speak on behalf of most or all Australians, if you like, I've not really taken issue with that. But so far, you've offered little evidence of sufficient experience with America and it's people to draw any conclusion about general views held by Americans of Australians, much less to write, in all seeming seriousness: "Thus for me, I've enough evidence to base a firm conclusion that America and its people are to be avoided as the place is intolerant, ignorant and just too dangerous to go to." Does this meet the definition of prejudice quoted above? Sure, it does. You don't have to type "prejudice" to suggest it. The evidence is in your own writing.

Dr who on :

My Dear SC. Thanks for your reply today. I'm the first to admit I do enjoy a somewhat elongated discursive interlocution, but thats just my way, thank you for your time. In reply today, you raise a number of novel issues, but perhaps one can dispel a number of them. I make no judgement on your Taiwan.Thailand comparison, I proffered the suggestion of 'pulling your leg' just as one sundry possibility. Is that a negative reflection of your interpretation?. Not my intent, I was just proffering a simple idea. As for all my comment being one big leg pull as you suggest, I can only assure you, one is being serious, but not with a profundity one hastens to add, as one is actually a light hearted sort overall, merely tempered. As for my professional and personal experiences, well you did ask about them and one responded in a matter of fact way. Little emotion really, merely resigned recollection of a summary of one's experiences. One really hasn't associated with Americans and like all new situations one has an open mind, but from an initial encounter, things went pear shaped very quickly. Oh well thats their problem not mine, but one has not real explanation and really one can only take people as they choose to present themselves. It has a deleterious effect on people though including me, but really if Americnas or anyone else chooses to behave like they do then they reap the consequences, such as people avoiding and bypassing them, as one does. Thus ones predisposition as you argue, is I suggest incorrect as one's current position is a consequence of past experiences with Americans, mostly negative. Logical conclusion, if 95% of all Americans encounted are like that from a wide base, then what does that say about the rest of them one hasn't encountered. Moreover I haven't the time or inclination to seek out 'better Americans', as one thinks how they choose to present themselves is really their issue. Important to not confuse on your part predisposition with resultant after the fact, which I base my assessment and views on. Sorry to correct you again, but your 'a priori ' basis is incorrect. I'm sorry you perceive one's persona as "smarmy condescention" but perhaps what we're seeing here is the limits of cultural difference. Clearly we're different sorts of people dear SC, but I assure you my 'tone' is one of quiet reflection and little emotion. Histrionics isn't ones way, so one thinks your depiction of one is more a reflection of your own 'prejudice' if you'll forgive the reversal of comparison . You seem pleasant enough and there is no invective in one's voice here, I'm sorry if one's words are interpretated in the way you perceive. Finally dear SC on the nature of prejudice. One finds your argument logically inconsistant in that you quote a concise dictionary summation for the word, but then dismiss the argument put forward by one where Australian's views on America and Americans are based on expericences and observations. Let me more precise as one fears you have missed argument. American pushing Australia around over the decades with areas such as threatening us to join U.S wars, threats to end the alliance if we don't comply, unfair trade agreements. Threatening Australia with boycotts if we try to increase our own local cultural content in film and television etc. Quite a few instances there to put any nations people off side don't you think and its all true. Hence the ongoing anti American feeling here. Not a prejudice 'a priori' but a reasonable conclusion based on experience. One the related issue of 'speaking for Australia', one hesitates to do so, but you did ask about instances and one merely relayed the flavour of the mood in keeping ones eyes and ears open in a wide variety of locales in the wider Australian community. As for the American negativity for Australia, well its stands to reason that any people that throws its weight around against anothe nation, has scant regard or respect for that said nation. The systemic threats, forced compliance and general bullying indicate a patttern of behaviour. Indeed juxtaposed from the macro to the micro, one's own personal experiences with Americans are telling in itself. One has found Americans are only really interesting in hearing what they wish to hear, new, different views contrary from theirs are rejected as I've found in my own work for instance. Methinks what is upsetting Americans nowadays is that they are discovering they are not liked by more and more people and this is their own fault after decades of throwing their weight around. They can't accept it and their natural instinct is to reject what they themsleves have caused. Hence they are upset to discover that even in Australia, whem they've considered "under the thumb" and nicely compliant is actually no different to the rest of the world in not liking them based on Americans own shoddy behaviour. Unwilling to accept reality, they try to ignore, pretent or dismiss through dishonest means that truth that they simply don't wish to hear. Perhaps if Americans and their country treated others with respect and dignity, and looked beyond the platitiudes of their puppets in governent like Australia and listened to the public, they may not be so upset these days at how they are disliked caused ironically by their own foolishness. That my friend is the key issue and one that Americans seem unable to confront head on. Although one finds short answers unsatisfatory dear SC, the concise answer to your questions are in fact not prejudice but conclusions based on factual experience and thus non prejudicial. One sees it a lot when one visits Britain, Europe and other nations in ones work. Indeed Australians compared to some even more fed up with the U.S are quite measured in their dislike and criticisms of the U.S and its people. One trusts thats clear and again thank you for your time and an illuminating discussion. a' la bonne heure Doctor Who

SC on :

No, I am not "logically inconsistent" in my application of the definition of prejudice. I shall end by simply noting that the standards implicit in your writing for drawing conclusions about the nature of whole peoples and their culture would have found a warm welcome in many parts of the US, but in particular the American south, prior to the 1960's. In this way, if no other, you would have fit right in then - and in many parts of the world extant. I am content to let any who read this exchange draw their own conclusions.

Dr who on :

Well SC it seems we've reached the natural differential dissonance in our respective outlooks. One simply can't understand your 'reasoning' in this regard. You cite a basic methodology that is sound enough of regarding evidence based resultants, but for some reason that eluses one, when evidence is provided that support the anti american specifics of Australians, such as pushing Australia around, bad 'free trade agreements' etc, which would be enough to annoy anyone, for some reason you seem unable to make the conceptual next step. Personally one prefers the Oxford English dictionary reference, for novel argument you introduced in the concept of 'prejudice', which basically means forming negative views in the absence of reasonable evidence. Australians have high levels of anti american sentiment for a long time and now openly expressed. Some reasons are given for the purposes of explanation in this dialogue, yet for some reason that one cannot fathom, you still can't grasp the conceptual flow of logic. One would have thought it was perfectly straightforward. Leaving aside your ad hominem asides toward one which are of no consequence, one doubts that one would fit into any aspect of U.S society, in the pre '60's south of your country or elsewhere as the dissonance between actuality and your 'perceptions' of actuality leave one with the conclusion that your own inward projections would be a more apt circumstance you stated proscriptions. One thinks its time to desist with this dialogue as one doubts we're going to agree on anything as fundamentally we're poles apart. (see what I mean about Americans living in a fools paradise vis a vis other cultures, indeed if Australians and Americans are distant and moving still apart , then what hope is there for U.S foreign relations where the cultures are even more distant?. Not good methinks). One suspects here in this dialogue,its the real limits of cultural difference exerting themsleves, perhaps its question of class too. One doesn't know how many Australians, New Zealanders or British you know , but its clear that you and people like me in 'our' countries see things very differently and one doubts we're ever going to agree.Therefore its the appropriate juncture to discontinue this exchange methinks and go our own separate ways. In that regard its good that this forced, un-natural and uncomfortable propinquity between our nations and peoples is unwinding at long last. It seems once again, we're in 'stage 4' of the dialogue. Hmmmm, it seems once again one's observations have been confirmed. Thanks anyway for an illuminating discussion, its been informative and rather amusing too (at least we can share a laugh in our own respective ways). I wish you well SC and good health . Dr who

SC on :

Epilog: Well, I thought I would check this thread one last time. I've known a few Australians in my time who liked a good gag. If your writing is reflective of your speech, you would indeed be unique among them. Which is only to say that I remain suspicious that yours continues to be one extended leg pull, as I wrote earlier. But given the off chance that you are as serious as you claim to be, then you should know this: As I expected, you took my last point as "ad hominem". If nothing else, you are indeed predictable. (Which, continues to makes me suspicious.) It was neither ad hominem nor, as you would have it, an aside. Rather, it was the completion of an argument begun with my first questions to you. It is this: The evidence you sight as sufficient, for drawing the characterizations you have of _all_ Americans and for the _entirety_ of a culture as large and diverse that found in the US, simply isn't. That you or your friends and associates may think so, does not make it so. Secondarily, the experience you claim or evidence you've cited is insufficient to assert knowledge of what many, much less most, Americans think or know of Australia. The standard of evidence you have claimed for drawing your characterizations is a low one and leads inevitably to some uncomfortable places and that was the point of my last brief note. It was not a point delivered, as you seem to think, either in anger or, as you now see, to brush you off. Throughout, you have seemed to think that I, or others for that matter, can not comprehend the possibility, much less actuality, of anti-Americanism as prevalent form in Australia. What you never thought to ask is whether that was the case for me. Remember, I never challenged you on your assertions of it. Anti-Americanism has been well documented as a historic norm for at least as long as the American republic has existed. Books have been written upon the topic, whole threads on this site have been and continue to be devoted to it. If you are claiming that Australia is new to this phenomenon, then - and I write this in all good humor and a smile on my face - y'all are late to the party, and you'll just have to take a number and queue up.

Pat Patterson on :

"...historical juxtapositional patina..."? To paraphrase Gen. Browning, "I think we may be going an adjective too far."

Dr who on :

Hello Pat, One never hesitates to shy away from the 'Mirabile ditu' of the English language as a representation of self expression. Thanks again for your replies and time Have a good weekend my friend, I'm off for a weekend in the country. Dr who

Pat Patterson on :

Just in case the impression was left that there was a sea change in Australia after the last election, The Age, a mass market Australian newspaper, cautions that the margin was only 1.5% between Labour and the Coalition. So divided government seems to be the norm at least in Australia and the US. And it's also noteworthy that some of the areas where Labour is strongest may lose seats due to population changes in the next two years. [url]http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/howard-only-15-from-being-pm-again/2008/01/04/1198950073955.html[/url]

Dr who on :

Dear Pat, One hestitates to call you wrong in regard to the situation here in Australia, but one should be careful to not project one's hopes onto other nations. What really counts here in Australia is the number of seats help in the parliament by whoever is in government and the inertia of office one the voters decide . Thus the new Rudd Labour goverment can likely see at minimum two terms in office before the Conservative Liberal/National Coaliton opposition are competitive again. Thus most people here expect no change in government up to 9 years from now as we have 3 year terms and voters almost never vote out a government after only 1 term. Thus its likely Labour will win in 3 years from now but the election after that may be a closer contest. Curently the Coalition opposition is discredited and ignored by everyone. Howard has gone, and his former top ministers are looking to leave parliament as a long stint in opposition is unpalateable. The current opposition leader is Brendon Nelson, but his leadership is weak and likely to be be challenged in time. Everyone here thinks its inevitable there will be disarray in the Coalition for years with infighting as the voters here have rejected the hard line values the Coalition stands for and the arrogance that goes with it. Thus I think you're getting ahead of yourself with your focus on 1.5% margin. The gap is actually much greater and the more ineffectual the Coalition party is the more support they will lose, as they now have to go back and work out just what they stand for having had a drubbing in the election here. Personally I have no time for any party but I understand the situation here a tad better than the hopes of some Americans I suggest. It is my home after all. So contrary to some Americans, yes there is a seachange here amongst the public, growing over years and finally once an opposition was viable, Howard was punished for his hard line views including his Americanism. Hope that clarifies matters. Dr who

Pat Patterson on :

Not really, I was just trying to point out that in terms of numbers this change is not really enough to sustain itself if Labour acts precipitously outside of a few policy positions. The wishful thinking may be on your part as I notice you made no reference to the 2010 reapportionment, any of the contents of The Age's argument or in fact referred to anything other than "...what some people believe."

Dr who on :

Pat, Methinks you don't understand the Australian electoral system as you're apportioning too much emphasis on standard electoral redistributions which may or may not alter the margins of recent won seats. The obverse of that is the AEC (Australian electoral commision) seeks to make sure all electorates in the country are as fair as possible (an independent statuary body free deom government interference), thus its also likely that seats held by opposition parties may reciprocally become more marginal too. Thus your argument is a logical non sequitor. The new government will behave to be careful to not alienate the public, but all governments have that priviso and incidently its that same circumstance that lead to the demise of the Howard government here. Too much hubris and not listening to the public. It may annoy Americans that "their man" was kicked out here, but whinging about it is simply driving the wedge between Australia and the U.S ever wider. Besides, the Liberals are in disarray here, in that they are adrift policy wise, with no-one listening to them and losing what talent they have at an increasing rate as Howards former ministers jump ship, blanching at the prospect of up to a decade or more in opposition. Rudd is a careful man and knows the mistakes Howard made, so Laboour is likely to be well aware of the price of hubris and the the price of not listening to the public. That inclused the open anti americanism here amongst the public (comparable to western European countries where most of us come from and here consider 'family'), global warming, leaving Iraq and other misbegotten fiasco's. Besides with the Australia closer to China now as our largest trading partner, the effects of a U.S recession which seems on the cards now, will be less of a bother for Australia now as our economy and society are largely de-coupled from the U.S as we increasingly drift apart (at long last). My exchanges with Americans here and elsewhere confirm just just how un-natural and uncomfortable our ' relationionship' really is. Showing my colleagues at work, my assistant and my partner in recent days the exchanges here (and having a few laughs), has confirmed ALL of our arguments against americans. As one was saying to SC, what Americans dislike is that at long last they are discovering just how disliked they really are even amongst what they thought were "like minded friends and allies", which is code for unhappy and long oppressed people here, lead by servile propitiators and remote from the real disdain felt by the public toward them and their American masters. The price of shortsightedness by America. As one relates, in ones every day life at work, the shops, sport and the pub here and in my travels across the country, one is hard pressed to hear anything nice about america by Australians. Good health to you Pat. Dr who

Pat Patterson on :

Yes, indeed the swing could either way but if the AEC allows for a plus or minus of 3.5% the swing could be huge. The AEC home page does not make any claim of making elections as fair as possible in regard to the quota but rather to the actual mechanics of voting. Japan is Australia's larges export market not China. While China's and the US's exports to Australia are only 14.4% and 14.1% respectively. Hardly enough to jettison historical partners but just enough to give the hysterical hope to rid themselves of the seppos. Just as aside please stop using Latin phrases it's the visual equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard. Either they have been badly misspelled or used incorrectly. A non sequitur, with a "u", is one of the logical fallacies, obverse means the main side not the lesser and not as used here the reverse. And mirabile dictu has a "c". I'm sure there are plenty of Australians that are anti-American but aside from vigorous hyperventilation I'm not sure that is really pertinent. Unless, of course that in the pursuit of amicable relations with China, Australia happens to forget that its unimpeded intercession in various Asian countries relies America's absolute air and naval superiority in the Pacific. Or Darwin can simply be evacuated again!

dr who on :

Just before I go today, I concede my typing is hurried and errors creep in, but its disingenuious to use that as some kind of 'argument' and I don't need a lecture on Latin expression thank youPat. Try and look beyond mere trifling matters if you're unable to produce counter argument. On trade, china is now ahead of Japan, in terms of OUR exports and growing. You misunderstand the contextual framework of 'obverse' I was presenting. The AEC reflects a more accurate position compared to your slanted perspectives. Finally your spite and aggression do you no credit and cut no ice with one. Its says more about yourself than I. Also your military perspective is unfocussed. Australia has no enemies but U.S militarism in itself is the problem. Constant reminders by Americans of WW2 and dubious claims that you 'saved Australia' merely drive a wedge between people even more. Showing off is unbecoming and not part of our culture. American posturing is not only ugly to see but drives people away. One thinks this discussion should end here as One thinks the gap between people like you and people like me is unbridgable. Best we go our separate ways amicably if you like but the tone of your missive is unworthy. In haste DW

Pat Patterson on :

You missed my point about Australian activities in Asia as without US support or basically carte blanche Australia would have to face an aggresive China or Japan seeking to extend their influence among what they might see as their natural allies. In other words no more troops to East Timor, Tonga, the Solomons, etc. Plus I always thought that the Australia's blunting Japan's advance into New Guinea and providing the bulk of the infantry where the main reasons Australia remained free. While the total elimination of Japan was mainly done by the United States. That's the first time I've heard that America saved Australia since I was only referring to the fact that Australia, more isolationist then the US at that time, was badly prepared to meet Japanese aggression and had to evacuate Darwin. The continued claim of the importance of China as a trading partner is contradicted by a report from the Australian Bureau Statistics, 5368.0 International Trade in Goods and Service, Australia, Oct 2007, might be more accurate than opinion. As I pointed out earlier the largest recipient of Australian exports is Japan while China and the US are only .3% to 1% different on being the source of Australian imports. Though one thing the report showed, which I didn't fully comprehend is how reliant on commodities Australia has become. Not good if prices fall, other sources found or the political situation in the world makes trade difficult. As to the use of obverse then I can only suggest a dictionary and not the contextual defense. Jacques Derrida may really be dead but obviously only in a contextual way.

SC on :

"Jacques Derrida may really be dead but obviously only in a contextual way." Heh! Actually, I'm delighted to think that Ignatius J. Reilly really does exist.

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