January 22, 2007


Western Europe's America Problem (ANDREI S. MARKOVITS, 1/19/07, The Chronicle Review)

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. No Western European country is exempt from this phenomenon -- not a single social class, no age group or profession, nor either gender. But the aversion reaches much deeper and wider than the frequently evoked "anti-Bushism." I perceive this virulent, Europewide, and global "anti-Bushism" as the glaring tip of a massive anti-American iceberg.

It's got nothing to do with W, as demonstrated by the fact that Israel is the other object of their hatred. It's just the inevitable divide between secular rationalists and the leading powers of Christianity and Judaism. Their societies arose out of a rationalist reaction to God--why be surprised that they react badly to us?

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 22, 2007 7:11 PM

Negative sentiments and views have been driven not only -- or even primarily -- by what the United States does, but rather by an animus against what Europeans have believed that America is.

So in a nutshell the Euros hate the US/Israel for the same reason as the Islamists: that it exists.

Posted by: Gideon at January 22, 2007 9:19 PM

Yea I predict our Western European "allies" will try nuclear blackmail on us in about 15 years when there economies go south.

Posted by: KRS at January 22, 2007 9:24 PM

Jealousy is a powerful motivator - look what it's done to Chirac. And Schroeder.

KRS - interesting point. Some here have written that the EU will come to D.C., hat in hand, when a Democrat sits in the White House again. But a backdoor blackmail threat (or some slimy connection with Islamic terrorists) is probably just as likely. What else is the force de frappe going to do now?

By 2020, Moscow may have used energy blackmail to run the whole show.

Posted by: ratbert at January 23, 2007 12:02 AM

It's easier to be anti-Israel, and anti-US because they don't cut people's heads off, and won't bomb them to smithereen unless they were terrorists.

Let's be real, to the haughty Euros Americans are always country bumpkins, stooges. Americans are only useful when they send their young to die for the Euros.

Posted by: ic at January 23, 2007 3:12 AM

What's with all the articles in the media and Drudge http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16758679/ about the EU's great economy?

Posted by: erp at January 23, 2007 7:04 AM

Check this out.

Across the sea to the east [by about 1900] a challenger to Britain had emerged. About three decades before, the union of a number of smaller states had created a major new power. The novelty of this union caused the challenger to make considerable noise about its being "one people," and about having transcended the divisions of the past, and they looked for precedents in the medieval past. In many ways this challenger resembled and emulated Britain, in a more illiberal form, for although elections took place real power always remained in the hands of a resolute elite; but it had more social protections for its citizens than Britain had. And it sympathized with the general thrust of Britain's imperial project, though it criticized (somewhat opportunistically) many of the details. At bottom, however, it conceived itself as a rival to Britain--this challenger wanted Britain's power and prestige much more, indeed, than the British themselves wanted it--and although the dependence of its commerce on the protective umbrella of the British navy ensured that it generally adopted a docile and peaceful attitude towards Britain, views among the ideologists, partisans and patriots of this empire could be rabidly hostile. And while in truth they had nothing to offer the world better than what Britain offered it--rather, something worse--they were articulate enough to make it sometimes sound like they did.

Like the EU today.

Posted by: Nathan Smith at January 23, 2007 8:55 AM

The world has paid a terrible price for the failure to form the Anglo-German Entente.

Posted by: oj at January 23, 2007 10:48 AM