Saturday, July 02, 2005


Anne Appelbaum has an excellent and very interesting analysis in Foreign Policy about Pro-Americanism around the world.
We all know the stereotypes of the anti–Americans: The angry Arab radical, demonstrating in the mythical Arab street; or the left–wing newspaper editor, fulminating at Berlin dinner parties; or the French farmer, railing against McDonald’s. Now, perhaps, we should add new stereotypes: The British small businessman, son of a coal miner, who once admired Thatcher and has been to Florida on holiday. Or the Polish anticommunist intellectual, who argued about Reagan with his Parisian friends in the 1980s, and disagrees with them about the Iraqi war now. Or the Indian stockbroker, the South Korean investment banker, and the Philippine manufacturer, all of whom have excellent relations with their American clients, all of whom support a U.S. military presence in their parts of the world, and all of whom probably harbor a fondness for President Bush that they wouldn’t confess to their wives. These stock figures should be as firmly a part of the columnists’ and commentators’ repertoire as their opponents have become.
They also matter, or should matter, to the United States. These people, and their equivalents in other countries, are America’s natural constituents. They may not be a majority, either in the world or in their own countries. But neither are they insignificant. After all, pro–Americans will vote for pro–American politicians, who sometimes win, even in Europe. They can exert pressure on their governments to support U.S. foreign policy. They will also purchase American products, make deals with American companies, vacation in the United States, and watch American movies.
They are worth cultivating, in other words, because their numbers can rise or fall, depending on U.S. policies. Their opinions will change, according to how American ambassadors conduct business in their countries, according to how often the U.S. secretary of state visits their cities, and according to how their media report on American affairs. Before the United States brushes away Europe as hopelessly anti–American, Americans should therefore remember that not all Europeans dislike them. Before Americans brush off the opinion of “foreigners” as unworthy of cultivation either, they should remember that whole chunks of the world have a natural affinity for them and, if they are diligent, always will.
Do read the whole thing. As an inveterate supporter of America, I cannot agree more with this sentiment. An enormous amount of resources are used around the world to spread (both intentionally and not) bias and prejudice against American attitudes and actions at home and abroad. Unfortunately the efforts to counter these tidal waves of disinformation are totally insufficient - America, private and public, must do more to ensure that people around the world are apprised more thoroughly of the (usually cogent) motives that lie behind America's endeavours, which should be engaged in with the clear realization that outside support can often be won and is vital in the long-run.
There is absolutely no question that the vast majority of the anti-Americanism that I encounter is based on misinformation - people who just simply do not know the facts, and I think this can and should be vigorously countered with all the tools at our disposal.

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