November 29, 2002
THE LAST UNIVERSALISTS:Letter to America: an interview with JURGEN HABERMAS (Danny Postel, the Nation)
Q: And what about relations between the United States and Europe more generally?
A: Many Americans do not yet realize the extent and the character of the growing rejection of, if not resentment against, the policy of the present American Administration throughout Europe, including in Great Britain. The emotional gap may well become deeper than it has ever been since the end of World War II. For people like me, who always sided with a pro-American left, it is important to draw a visible boundary between criticizing the policy of the American Administration, on one hand, and the muddy stream of anti-American prejudices on the other. Remembering the period of the Vietnam War, it would be helpful in this respect if the opposition in Europe could relate to, and identify with, a similar movement in this country. Yet compared with 1965, timidity now prevails here.
Maybe a kind of systematically distorted communication between the United States and Europe is also in play. I had not thought of such a possibility until an American friend tried to explain to me what he perceived as the hawkish worldview of influential people like Paul Wolfowitz. They think of themselves, so the explanation goes, as the real defenders of universalist ideals. Europeans, always susceptible to anti-Semitism, are perceived as falling back on the cynical realism of their pre-1945 power games, while brave Americans and Britons are rushing to arms for the same goals as in World War II. From this perspective, only the Anglo-Saxons are committed to defending the universal values of freedom and democracy against an "evil" that is now embodied in "rogue" states. If that were in fact more than a caricature, we would need, perhaps, a discussion on the respective faults and merits of what we might contrast as "liberal nationalism" and "cosmopolitanism."
As pj, who sent this, said, that last answer is interesting, because by its end Mr. Habermas seems to at least consider the possibility that only the Anglo-American alliance remains to defend freedom.
Posted by Orrin Judd at November 29, 2002 12:41 PM