Skip to content

How Widespread is Anti-Americanism?

American political science professors take different approaches and assess the forms and strengths of Anti-Americanism(s) differently in two books (and in freely available essays adapted from the books). Professor Markovits sounds more alarmist than professors Keohane and Katzenstein.
US Fulbright Alumnus Andrei S. Markovits is a professor of comparative politics and German studies at the University of Michigan and writes about "Western Europe's America Problem:" 
Any trip to Europe confirms what surveys have been finding: The aversion to America is becoming greater, louder, more determined. It is unifying Western Europeans more than any other political emotion -- with the exception of a common hostility toward Israel. Indeed, the virulence in Western Europe's antipathy to Israel cannot be understood without the presence of anti-Americanism and hostility to the United States. Those two closely related resentments are now considered proper etiquette. They are present in polite company and acceptable in the discourse of the political classes. They constitute common fare not only among Western Europe's cultural and media elites, but also throughout society itself, from London to Athens and from Stockholm to Rome, even if European politicians visiting Washington or European professors at international conferences about anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism are adamant about denying or sugarcoating that reality.
There can be no doubt that many disastrous and irresponsible policies by members of the Bush administration, as well as their haughty demeanor and arrogant tone, have contributed massively to this unprecedented vocal animosity on the part of Europeans toward Americans and America. Indeed, they bear responsibility for having created a situation in which anti-Americanism has mutated into a sort of global antinomy, a mutually shared language of opposition to and resistance against the real and perceived ills of modernity that are now inextricably identified with America. I have been traveling back and forth with considerable frequency between the United States and Europe since 1960, and I cannot recall a time like the present, when such a vehement aversion to everything American has been articulated in Europe.
His full essay is available at The Chronicle of Higher Education (via: Transatlantic Forum) "Uncouth Nation: Why Europe Dislikes America" and is adapted from his new book More about this book, including some criticism in the Atlantic Review post Anti-Americanism and Anti-Semitism.
The new book by professors Katzenstein and Keohane seems to be less alarmist than Markovits:
Continue reading "How Widespread is Anti-Americanism?"

"Anti-Americanisms in World Politics"

Professors Peter J. Katzenstein and Robert O. Keohane, who are two leading international relations experts at Cornell and Princeton, have just published Anti-Americanisms in World Politics (, According to the book description, they have "assembled a distinguished group of experts, including historians, polling-data analysts, political scientists, anthropologists, and sociologists, to explore Anti-Americanism in depth, using both qualitative and quantitative methods. The result is a book that probes deeply a central aspect of world politics that is frequently noted yet rarely understood."
Policy Review has published the essay "Anti-Americanisms: Biases as diverse as the country itself" by Katzenstein and Keohane, adapted from their new book. In the book and the essay they discuss four themes:
First, we distinguish between anti-Americanisms that are rooted in opinion or bias. Second, as our book's title suggests, there are many varieties of anti-Americanism. The beginning of wisdom is to recognize that what is called anti-Americanism varies, depending on who is reacting to America. In our book, we describe several different types of anti-Americanism and indicate where each type is concentrated. The variety of anti-Americanism helps us to see, third, the futility of grand explanations for anti-Americanism. It is accounted for better as the result of particular sets of forces. Finally, the persistence of anti-Americanism, as well as the great variety of forms that it takes, reflects what we call the polyvalence of a complex and kaleidoscopic American society in which observers can find whatever they don’t like -- from Protestantism to porn. The complexity of anti-Americanism reflects the polyvalence of America itself.
Another one of their conclusions:
Perhaps the most puzzling thing about anti-Americanism is that we Americans seem to care so much about it. Americans want to know about anti-Americanism: to understand ourselves better and, perhaps above all, to be reassured. This is one of our enduring traits. Americans’ reaction to anti-Americanism in the twenty-first century thus is not very different from what Alexis de Tocqueville encountered in 1835: "The Americans, in their intercourse with strangers, appear impatient of the smallest censure and insatiable of praise... They unceasingly harass you to extort praise, and if you resist their entreaties they fall to praising themselves. It would seem as if, doubting their own merit, they wished to have it constantly exhibited before their eyes." Perhaps we care because we lack self-confidence, because we are uncertain whether to be proud of our role in the world or dismayed by it.
The second book Ueberpower: The Imperial Temptation of America (, was published in the summer of 2006 and is written by Fulbright Alumnus and ZEIT editor Josef Joffe, who is very pro-American and even supported the Iraq war. The title is a bit misleading since the book examines Anti-Americanism at great length. I have read an interesting essay in the American Interest by Joffe based on his book, but that essay is no longer available online. Joffe presented and discussed his book at Carnegie.

Iraqi Fulbrighters Speak about their Concerns

Vietnamese journalist and Fulbrighter Tran Le Thuy wrote the article "When winning a Fulbright means having to hide your face." She writes about the fears and concerns many Iraqi Fulbrighters in the United States have. According to her interviews, some of them did not accept the invitation to meet with President Bush "either in fear for their lives or to avoid the tormenting questions about the conflict taking place in their motherland."
Although all of them seem uniformly happy that Saddam Hussein is no longer in power, they are painfully watching the news from home for signs of civil war. And many blame unfair, insensitive, and poorly designed American policies for the clashes among Sunnis and Shiites and the way post-dictatorship democracy in Iraq seems to be going awry. (...)
Dr. Fadhil says he would love to meet the president. "I would thank Mr. Bush for removing Saddam; at the end this is the only major achievement that all Iraqis agree on," said the filmmaker, who became a journalist by chance when a Guardian reporter asked him to work as a translator in 2003. "But it is not worth it for hundred[s of] thousands of Iraqis to die. We got nothing after Saddam -- no jobs, no security, and no better life."
Thuy quotes one Iraqi Fulbrigther as saying "Bush is good [for his country]. He attracts terrorists from all over the world to Iraq in order to make them forget about attacking America. Iraq becomes a battlefield for terrorists." She also writes:
Another Fulbrighter from Baghdad, who declines to be named, says, "I hate [it] when the Americans say that they are shifting the anti-terrorism battlefield to Iraq. It really pisses me off. This is the city where I live. Why is there terrorism in my city? They didn’t think about me or about my people when they declared that. Who gave them this authority?" He laments, "Don't they think of [the] 25 millions people living there, who are killed and being killed everyday? Nobody cares for Iraqi civilians."

Leading Role for NATO in Germany's New Security and Defense Policy Review

UPDATE: Marco Overhaus, a research fellow at the University of Trier and Fulbright Alumnus, describes Germany's new White Paper on security policy as a "Solid Basis for a Needed Debate.":
The White Paper devotes considerable space to describing the comparative advantages of both NATO (with its integrated military structure) and the European Union (with its broad array of foreign and security instruments) and quite frankly states that the current state of cooperation between both organizations is unsatisfactory. Certainly, a distinct feature of the present White Paper is its clear and unequivocal commitment to NATO as "the cornerstone of German security and defence policy." This is probably the clearest departure of German security policy under the previous government of Chancellor Schroeder who was willing to confront Washington and put more emphasis on the development of the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP). (...)
Yet, the principal test will be whether the German government will put these ideas into practice. Not surprisingly, a major obstacle to the implementation of the stated goals will be their financial implications. A broad security strategy also necessitates greater financial resources, and at least some of the propositions in the White Paper imply higher expenditures.
Overhaus also criticizes that the White Paper "shies away from honestly addressing the problems of German and international efforts to deal with the decreasing stability" in Afghanistan. His general assessment, however, tilts towards the positive. He concludes that "the White Paper should also be understood as a starting point for a national debate on security policy which is urgently needed as increasing international demands on Germany meet more scepticism on the domestic front."

The Financial Times comments on the White Paper as well and argues that Germany"needs to get rid of conscription, a tradition that limits the country's military effectiveness." That won't happen anytime soon. [END of UPDATE]

The New York Times writes about the new German Defense White Book:
Germany will publish a defense and security policy review on Wednesday [October 25, 2006] that says the country is poised to play a major role in Europe without distancing itself from the NATO alliance. The review -- the first in 12 years -- is a sign that Germany has grown more confident and assertive about its place on the international stage, after decades spent living down the aggression and atrocities of the Nazi years and then knitting itself back into a single nation. (...)
Continue reading "Leading Role for NATO in Germany's New Security and Defense Policy Review"

Fulbrighter Runs Marathon for a Good Cause

Australian Fulbrighter Eliza Matthews will be participating in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC on October 29, 2006. You can sponsor her Marathon:
Did you know that more than one million Americans, and 40 million others around the world, are living with HIV -- the virus that causes AIDS? With more than 20 million deaths so far, AIDS is now the leading cause of death among all people aged 15 to 59 worldwide. Regrettably, approximately 1 in every 20 adults in the District of Columbia is living with HIV/AIDS. So, the money I am raising will benefit Whitman-Walker Clinic, the largest provider of HIV/AIDS services in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia. The Clinic provides direct medical care, food, housing and other really important AIDS services -- to help keep people alive until there's a cure.
This concept of doing something extraordinary and having others sponsor you by donating for a good cause has been pretty popular in the United States for a long time (how long?), but is not popular at all in Germany. Not yet, at least.
Eliza also has a blog. Recently she wrote about being labeled a "non-resident alien" by the Bank of America, the Patriot Act and trouble with the service provided by the German company T-Mobile in the US.
UPDATE: Due to a terrible infection, Eliza won't run the marathon next Sunday. She ran the Philadelphia half marathon and is still fundraising for the Whitman Walker Clinic whilst building up to a full marathon.

More Fulbright blogs and Fulbright projects.

Rieff: Ideology of Exceptionalism is Dangerous to America's National Interest

On Tuesday, President Bush signed into law a bill that critics consider "one of the most un-American in the nation's long history," writes Dan Froomkin for the Washington Post:
The new law vaguely bans torture -- but makes the administration the arbiter of what is torture and what isn't. It allows the president to imprison indefinitely anyone he decides falls under a wide-ranging new definition of unlawful combatant. It suspends the Great Writ of habeas corpus for detainees. It allows coerced testimony at trial. It immunizes retroactively interrogators who may have engaged in torture. Here's what Bush had to say at his signing ceremony in the East Room: "The bill I sign today helps secure this country, and it sends a clear message: This nation is patient and decent and fair, and we will never back down from the threats to our freedom." But that may not be the "clear message" the new law sends most people. Here's the clear message the law sends to the world: America makes its own rules.
And the LA Times points out that "the Justice Department moved immediately to request the dismissal of dozens of lawsuits filed by detainees challenging their incarceration."
The new law is relevant to the discussion about American Exceptionalism: Gregory Djerejian suspects in The Belgravia Dispatch that many historians will view the Iraq war as a "vanity" war.
Continue reading "Rieff: Ideology of Exceptionalism is Dangerous to America's National Interest"

Nobel Peace Prize for Fulbright Alumnus Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006 to Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank for "their efforts to create economic and social development from below. Lasting peace can not be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty. Micro-credit is one such means."

Muhammad Yunus was born in 1940 in Chittagong, the business centre of what was then Eastern Bengal and is now Bangladesh. He was the third of 14 children of whom five died in infancy. Educated in Chittagong, he was awarded a Fulbright scholarship and received his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee. In 1972 he became head of the Economics Department at Chittagong University. He is the founder and managing director of the Grameen Bank.
Prof. Yunus wrote the memoir Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty (,
According to the BBC, "Hillary Clinton, wife of former US President Bill Clinton, said in 2000 that Mr Yunus had helped the Clintons introduce micro-credit schemes to some of the poorest communities in Arkansas." Since Senator Fulbright was from Arkansas, one could conclude that the Fulbright program has made a full circle (in a positive sense) and America has benefited from awarding a Fulbright grant to Muhammad Yunus.

The CEO of Grameen Foundation USA is Alex Counts, who is also a Fulbright Alumnus. He will present the plenary luncheon address on Sunday, November 5, during the Fulbright Association's 29th Annual Conference "Fulbright Alumni: Expressions in Civil Society."
The Fulbright Academy lists in the right column here some Nobel Laureates, who are also Fulbright Scholars.


Sweig on Anti-Americanism and Feichtlbauer on Appreciating the United States

•  "Why They Hate Us. No, it's not our freedoms. Anti-Americanism isn't going away until the U.S. puts some fairness in its foreign policy." opines Julia E. Sweig, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, in the Los Angeles Times:
America's moral standing in the world has precipitously declined since 2001. For starters, blame the Bush administration's go-it-alone tough talk after 9/11, contempt for the Kyoto accord, war and then chaos in Iraq, secret prisons in Europe and alleged use of torture at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Democrats would have you believe that a new team -- theirs -- in Washington would change all this. Not so fast. Around the world, anti-Americanism is not simply the result of anger about President Bush's foreign policies. Rather, it is deeply entrenched antipathy accumulated over decades. It may take generations to undo. (…)
In Latin America, for example, U.S. policies -- whether on trade, aid, democracy, drugs or immigration -- presumed that Latin Americans would automatically see U.S. interests as their own. And when denied deference, we sometimes lash out, as did Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld when he lumped Germany, a close U.S. ally, with Cuba and Libya because Berlin opposed the Iraq war.
Ms. Sweig's most recent book is "Friendly Fire: Losing Friends and Making Enemies in the Anti-American Century." |


You can support the Atlantic Review by starting your Amazon shopping here or by clicking on the Amazon logo in the sidebar.

"Why We Appreciate the U.S." is the headline of an op-ed in in Die Presse (in German) by Hubert Feichtlbauer, who used to be the editor in chief of several Austrian papers and one of the first Austrian Fulbright grantees. He focuses on the many historic contributions and why the US was a role model after WWII.