Anti-Americanism, or anti-American sentiment, is opposition or hostility to the policies, culture, society, economics, foreign policy, international role, or superpower role of the United States. Common contemporary negative stereotypes of Americans include the assertions that Americans are: aggressive, arrogant, ignorant, overweight, poorly dressed, materialistic, obsessed with making money, too moralistic, and generally obnoxious.
Political scientist Brendon O'Connor of the United States Studies Centre suggests that anti-Americanism cannot be isolated as a consistent phenomenon and that the term originated as a rough composite of stereotypes, prejudices and criticisms towards Americans or the United States, evolving to more politically based criticism. French scholar Marie-France Toinet says use of the term "is only fully justified if it implies systematic opposition – a sort of allergic reaction – to America as a whole".
Discussions on anti-Americanism have in most cases lacked a precise definition of what the sentiment entails (other than a general disfavor), which has led to the term being used broadly and in an impressionistic manner, resulting in the inexact impressions of the many expressions described as anti-American.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Interpretations
- 3 18th and 19th centuries
- 4 20th century
- 5 21st century
- 5.1 9/11
- 5.2 Middle East, South Asia and North Africa
- 5.3 Europe
- 5.4 Asia-Pacific
- 5.5 The Americas
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
In the first edition of Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language (1828) the term "anti-American" was defined as "opposed to America, or to the true interests or government of the United States; opposed to the revolution in America”. In France the use of the noun form 'antiaméricanisme' has been catalogued from 1948, entering ordinary political language in the 1950s.
Interpretations of anti-Americanism have often been polarized. Anti-Americanism has been described by Hungarian-born American sociologist Paul Hollander as "a relentless critical impulse toward American social, economic, and political institutions, traditions, and values”.
German newspaper publisher and political scientist Josef Joffe suggests five classic aspects of the phenomenon: reducing Americans to stereotypes, believing the United States to have an irremediably evil nature, ascribing to the U.S. establishment a vast conspiratorial power aimed at utterly dominating the globe, holding the United States responsible for all the evils in the world, and seeking to limit the influence of the United States by destroying it or by cutting oneself and one's society off from its polluting products and practices. Other advocates of the significance of the term argue that anti-Americanism represents a coherent and dangerous ideological current, comparable to anti-Semitism. Anti-Americanism has also been described as an attempt to frame the consequences of U.S. policy choices as evidence of a specifically American moral failure, as opposed to what may be unavoidable failures of a complicated foreign policy that comes with superpower status.
Its status as an "-ism" is a greatly contended aspect, however. Brendon O'Connor notes that studies of the topic have been "patchy and impressionistic," and often one-sided attacks on anti-Americanism as an irrational position. American academic Noam Chomsky, a prolific critic of U.S. policy, asserts that the use of the term within the U.S. has parallels with methods employed by totalitarian states or military dictatorships; he compares the term to "anti-Sovietism", a label used by the Kremlin to suppress dissident or critical thought, for instance.
"The concept "anti-American" is an interesting one. The counterpart is used only in totalitarian states or military dictatorships... Thus, in the old Soviet Union, dissidents were condemned as "anti-Soviet”. That's a natural usage among people with deeply rooted totalitarian instincts, which identify state policy with the society, the people, the culture. In contrast, people with even the slightest concept of democracy treat such notions with ridicule and contempt.
Some have attempted to recognize both positions. French academic Pierre Guerlain has argued that the term represents two very different tendencies: "One systematic or essentialist, which is a form of prejudice targeting all Americans. The other refers to the way criticisms of the United States are labeled "anti-American" by supporters of U.S. policies in an ideological bid to discredit their opponents". Guerlain argues that these two "ideal types" of anti-Americanism can sometimes merge, thus making discussion of the phenomenon particularly difficult. Other scholars have suggested that a plural of anti-Americanisms, specific to country and time period, more accurately describe the phenomenon than any broad generalization. The widely used "anti-American sentiment", meanwhile, less explicitly implies an ideology or belief system.
Globally, increases in perceived anti-American attitudes appear to correlate with particular policies or actions, such as the Vietnam and Iraq wars. For this reason, critics sometimes argue the label is a propaganda term that is used to dismiss any censure of the United States as irrational.
18th and 19th centuries
In the mid- to late-eighteenth century, a theory emerged among some European intellectuals that the New World landmasses were inherently inferior to Europe. The so-called "degeneracy thesis" held that climatic extremes, humidity and other atmospheric conditions in America physically weakened both men and animals.:3–19 American author James W. Ceaser and French author Philippe Roger have interpreted this theory as "a kind of prehistory of anti-Americanism". and have (in the words of Philippe Roger) been a historical "constant" since the 18th century, or again an endlessly repetitive "semantic block". Others, like Jean-François Revel, have examined what lay hidden behind this 'fashionable' ideology. Purported evidence for the idea included the smallness of American fauna, dogs that ceased to bark, and venomous plants; one theory put forth was that the New World had emerged from the Biblical flood later than the Old World. Native Americans were also held to be feeble, small, and without ardor.
The theory originated with Comte de Buffon, a leading French naturalist, in his Histoire Naturelle (1766). The French writer Voltaire joined Buffon and others in making the argument. Dutchman Cornelius de Pauw, court philosopher to Frederick II of Prussia became its leading proponent. While Buffon focused on the American biological environment, de Pauw attacked people native to the continent. James Ceaser has noted that the denouncement of America as inferior to Europe was in part motivated by the German government's fear of mass emigration; de Pauw was called on to convince the Germans that the new world was inferior. De Pauw is also known to have influenced the philosopher Immanuel Kant in a similar direction.
De Pauw said that the New World was unfit for human habitation because it was, "so ill-favored by nature that all it contains is either degenerate or monstrous". He asserted that, "the earth, full of putrefacation, was flooded with lizards, snakes, serpents, reptiles and insects". Taking a long-term perspective he announced that he was, "certain that the conquest of the New World...has been the greatest of all misfortunes befall mankind".
The theory made it easy to argue that the natural environment of the United States would prevent it from ever producing true culture. Echoing de Pauw, the French Encyclopedist Abbé Raynal wrote in 1770, "America has not yet produced a good poet, an able mathematician, one man of genius in a single art or a single science". The theory was debated and rejected by early American thinkers such as Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson; Jefferson, in his Notes on the State of Virginia (1781), provided a detailed rebuttal of de Buffon from a scientific point of view. Hamilton also vigorously rebuked the idea in Federalist No. 11 (1787).
Roger suggests that the idea of degeneracy posited a symbolic, as well as a scientific America, that would evolve beyond the original thesis. He argues that Buffon's ideas formed the root of a "stratification of negative discourses" that has recurred throughout the two countries' relationship (and has been matched by persistent anti-Gallic sentiment in the United States).
According to Brendan O'Connor, some Europeans criticized Americans for lacking "taste, grace and civility" and having a brazen and arrogant character. British author Frances Trollope observed in her 1832 book Domestic Manners of the Americans that the greatest difference between England and the United States was "want of refinement", explaining that "that polish which removes the coarser and rougher parts of our nature is unknown and undreamed of" in America. According to one source her account "succeeded in angering Americans more than any book written by a foreign observer before or since". English writer Captain Marryat's critical account in his Diary in America, with Remarks on Its Institutions (1839) also proved controversial, especially in Detroit where an effigy of the author, along with his books, was committed to the flames. Other writers critical of American culture and manners included the bishop Talleyrand in France and Charles Dickens in England. Dickens' novel Martin Chuzzlewit (1844) is a ferocious satire on American life.:42
Simon Schama says: "By the end of the nineteenth century, the stereotype of the ugly American – voracious, preachy, mercenary, and bombastically chauvinist – was firmly in place in Europe". O'Connor suggests that such prejudices were rooted in an idealised image of European refinement and that the notion of high European culture pitted against American vulgarity has not disappeared.
Politics and ideology
The young United States also faced criticism on political and ideological grounds. Ceaser argues that the Romantic strain of European thought and literature, hostile to the Enlightenment view of reason and obsessed with history and national character, disdained the rationalistic American project. The German poet Nikolaus Lenau commented: "With the expression Bodenlosigkeit (absence of ground), I think I am able to indicate the general character of all American institutions; what we call Fatherland is here only a property insurance scheme". Ceaser argues in his essay that such comments often repurposed the language of degeneracy, and the prejudice came to focus solely on the United States and not Canada and Mexico. Lenau had emigrated to the United States in 1833 and found that the country did not live up to his ideals, leading him to return to Germany the following year. His experiences in the USA were the subject of a novel entitled Tired of America (Der Amerika-Müde) (1855) by fellow German Ferdinand Kürnberger.
The nature of American democracy was also questioned. The sentiment was that the country lacked "[a] monarch, aristocracy, strong traditions, official religion, or rigid class system," according to Rubin, and its democracy was attacked by some Europeans in the early nineteenth century as degraded, a travesty, and a failure. The French Revolution, which was loathed by many European conservatives, also implicated the United States and the idea of creating a constitution on abstract and universal principles. That the country was intended to be a bastion of liberty was also seen as fraudulent given that it had been established with slavery. "How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?" asked Samuel Johnson in 1775. He famously stated that, "I am willing to love all mankind, except an American".
Sigmund Freud was vehemently anti-American. Historian Peter Gay says that in "slashing away at Americans wholesale; quite indiscriminately, with imaginative ferocity, Freud was ventilating some inner need". Gay suggests that Freud's anti-Americanism was not really about United States at all.
Numerous authors went on the attack. French writer Louis-Ferdinand Celine denounced the United States. German poet Rainer Marie Rilke wrote, "I no longer love Paris, partly because it is disfiguring and Americanizing itself”.
Until its demise in 1991, the Soviet Union and other Communist nations emphasized capitalism as the great enemy of Communism, and identified the U.S. as the leader of the capitalist nations. They sponsored anti-Americanism of all kinds among followers and fellow travellers. Berman notes that in the mid-19th century, "Marx himself largely admired the dynamism of American capitalism and democracy and did not participate in the anti-Americanism that came to be the hallmark of Communist ideology in the twentieth century”. O'Connor argues that, "communism represented the starkest version of anti-Americanism – a coherent worldview that challenged the free market, private property, limited government, and individualism".
Communist authors in the west, such as Bertolt Brecht and Jean-Paul Sartre went on the attack and reached a large audience on the far left. In his Anti-Americanism (2003), French writer Jean François Revel argues that anti-Americanism emerges primarily from anti-capitalism, and this critique also comes from non-Communist, totalitarian regimes.
The East German regime imposed an official ideology that was reflected in all its media and all the schools. Anyone who indicated the least deviation invited a visit from the Stasi (secret police). The official line followed Lenin's theory of imperialism as the highest and last stage of capitalism, and in Dimitrov's theory of fascism as the dictatorship of the most reactionary elements of financial capitalism. The official party line stated that the United States had caused the breakup of the coalition against Hitler. It was now the bulwark of reaction worldwide, with a heavy reliance on warmongering for the benefit of the "terrorist international of murderers on Wall Street". East Germans were told they had a heroic role to play as a front-line against the evil Americans. However Schnoor argues that few East Germans believed it. They had seen enough of the Russians since 1945—a half-million Soviet troops were still stationed in East Germany as late as 1989. Furthermore they were exposed to information from relatives in the West, as well as the American Radio Free Europe broadcasts, and West German media. The official Communist media ridiculed the modernism and cosmopolitanism of American culture, and denigrated the features of the American way of life, especially jazz music and rock 'n roll. The East German regime relied heavily on its tight control of youth organizations to rally them, with scant success, against American popular culture. The older generations were more concerned with the poor quality of food, housing, and clothing, which stood in dramatic contrast to the prosperity of West Germany. Professionals in East Germany were watched for any sign of deviation from the party line; their privileges were at risk. The solution was to either comply or flee to West Germany, which was relatively easy before the crackdown and the Berlin wall of 1961.
Drawing on the ideas of Arthur de Gobineau (1816–1882), European fascists decried the supposed degenerating effect of immigration on the racial mix of the American population. The Nazi philosopher Alfred Rosenberg argued that race mixture in the United States made it inferior to countries like Germany, which had a supposedly pure-bred racial stock.:91–2
Anti-Semitism was another factor in these critiques. The view that America was controlled by a Jewish conspiracy through a Jewish lobby was common in countries ruled by fascists before and during World War II.:91–7 The Jews, the assumed puppet masters behind American plans for world domination, were also seen as using jazz in a crafty plan to eliminate racial distinctions.:91–7 However, despite this belief, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini did not count America as a credible adversary of the Third Reich because of its incoherent racial mix; they saw Americans as a "mongrel race", "half-Judaised" and "half-Negrified".:94–7
- "He [Roosevelt] was strengthened in this [political diversion] by the circle of Jews surrounding him, who, with Old Testament-like fanaticism, believe that the United States can be the instrument for preparing another Purim for the European nations that are becoming increasingly anti-Semitic. It was the Jew, in his full Satanic vileness, who rallied around this man [Roosevelt], but to whom this man also reached out".
The "Liberators" poster distributed by Nazis in 1944 to a Dutch audience displays multiple elements of anti-American attitudes used by the Nazis. Note that the title-"Liberator"-was a common Allied justification for attacking Germany. It also stands for the B-24 American bomber and the poster shows liberation equals destruction of Europe's cities. The artist was Harald Damsleth, a Norwegian who worked for the SS in occupied Norway.
- The decadence of beauty pageants (scantily-clad "Miss America" and "Miss Victory", "The World's Most Beautiful Leg") – or more generally, the putative sexual laxness of American women, a theme which strongly resonates with extremists today. The "Miss America" beauty pageant in Atlantic City had expanded during the war and was used to sell war bonds.
- Gangsterism and gun violence (the arm of an escaped convict holding a submachine gun). Gangsterism had become a theme of anti-Americanism in the 1930s.
- Anti-black violence (a lynching noose, a Ku Klux Klan hood). Lynching of blacks had attracted European denunciations by the 1890s.
- General violence of American society, in addition to the above (boxing-glove which grasps the money-bag). The theme of a violent American frontier was well known in the 19th century.
- Americans as Indian savages. As well as mockery of American genocide over Natives as well as land-theft, since it is a chieftain symbol here used as fashion trinket. ("Miss America" wears plains-Indian head-dress).
- The pure materialism or commercialism of America, to the detriment of any spirit or soul (moneybag with "$" symbol). The materialism of America contrasted with the spiritual depth of European high culture is a common trope, especially in Scandinavia.
- Anti-semitism appears in most Nazi images of America. A Jewish banker is seen behind the money.
- The presence of blacks in America equals its "mongrelization", adding undesirably "primitive" elements to American popular culture, and constituting a potential danger to the white race (strongly muscular arms of a black male, a stereotypically-caricatured black couple dancing the "JITTERBUG – Triumph of Civilization" in birdcage, which is portrayed as a degraded animalistic ritual). The degradation of culture, especially through miscegenation, resonated with European anxieties, especially in Germany.
- Decadence of American popular culture, and its pernicious influence on the rest of the world (dancing of jitterbug, hand holds phonograph record, figure of a European gullible "all-ears" dupe in lower foreground). The growing popularity of American music and dancing among young people had ignited a "moral panic" among conservative Europeans.
- Indiscriminate U.S. military violence (bloodied bomb for foot, metal legs, military aircraft wings), threatening the European cultural landmarks at lower right. The terror-bombing of Nazi-held cities was a British strategy, but it was easy enough to use it to attack the Americans.
- Hence the falsity of American claims to be "Liberators". (The word "Liberators" was also the name of a U.S. bomber plane.)
- Nazis denounced American jingoism and war fervor (a business-suited arm literally "beating the drum" of militarism, "Miss Victory" and her drum-majorette cap and boots).
- The malevolent influence of American Freemasons (Masonic apron descending from drum) was a theme among conservative Catholics, as in Spain.
- Demonization of national symbols of the United States ("Miss Victory" waves the reverse side of 48-star U.S. flag, and the WW2-era Army Air Corps roundel – of small red disk within white star on large blue disk – is shown on one of the wings).
In a book called The Rise of Anti-Americanism, published in 2006, Brendon O'Connor and Martin Griffiths said that the September 11, 2001 attacks were "quintessential anti-American acts, which satisfy all of the competing definitions of Anti-Americanism”. They ask, "If 9/11 can be construed as the exemplar of anti-Americanism at work, does it make much sense to imply that all anti-Americans are complicit with terrorism?" Leaders in most Middle Eastern countries, including Afghanistan, condemned the attacks. Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was a notable exception, with an immediate official statement that "the American cowboys are reaping the fruit of their crimes against humanity".
Middle East, South Asia and North Africa
After World War I, admiration was expressed for American President Woodrow Wilson's promulgation of democracy, freedom and self-determination in the Fourteen Points and, during World War II, the high ideals of the Atlantic Charter received favorable notice. According to Tamim Ansary, in Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes (2009) early views of America in the Middle East and the Muslim World were mostly positive.
Like elsewhere in the world, spikes in anti-Americanism in the region correlate with the adoption or reiteration of certain policies by the US government, in special its support for Israel in the occupation of Palestine and the Iraq War. In regards to 9/11, a Gallup poll noted, for example, that while most (93%) Muslims polled opposed the attack, 7% of them (called 'radicals' in the survey) supported it, citing in their favor, not religious view points, but disgust at US policies. In effect, when targeting US or other Western assets in the region, radical armed groups in the Middle East, Al Qaeda included, have made reference to US policies and alleged crimes against humanity to justify their attacks. To explain the Khobar Towers bombing, for example, Bin Laden named US support for Israel in instances of attacks against Muslims, such as the Sabra and Shatila massacre and the Qana massacre, as the reasons behind his group's attacks.
US-sponsored sanctions on Iraq, which exacted a large toll in the Arab country's civilian population, were also named by Al Qaeda as a justification to kill Americans.
Though right-wing scholars (e.g. Paul Hollander) have given prominence to the role that religiosity, culture and backwardness play in inflaming anti-Americanism in the region, the poll noted that radicalism among Arabs or Muslims isn't correlated with poverty, backwardness or religiosity. Radicals were in fact shown to be better educated and wealthier than 'moderates'.
There is also, however, a cultural dimension to anti-Americanism among religious and conservative groups in the Middle East. It may have its origins with Sayyid Qutb. Qutb, an Egyptian who was the leading intellectual of the Muslim Brotherhood, studied in Greeley, Colorado from 1948 to 1950, and wrote a book, The America I Have Seen (1951) based on his impressions. In it he decried everything in America from individual freedom and taste in music to Church socials and haircuts. Wrote Qutb, "They danced to the tunes of the gramophone, and the dance floor was replete with tapping feet, enticing legs, arms wrapped around waists, lips pressed to lips, and chests pressed to chests. The atmosphere was full of desire..." He offered a distorted chronology of American history and was disturbed by its sexually liberated women: "The American girl is well acquainted with her body's seductive capacity. She knows it lies in the face, and in expressive eyes, and thirsty lips. She knows seductiveness lies in the round breasts, the full buttocks, and in the shapely thighs, sleek legs – and she shows all this and does not hide it". He was particularly disturbed by jazz, which he called the American's preferred music, and which "was created by Negroes to satisfy their love of noise and to whet their sexual desires ..." Qutb's writings influenced generations of militants and radicals in the Middle East who viewed America as a cultural temptress bent on overturning traditional customs and morals, especially with respect to the relations between the sexes.
Qutb's ideas influenced Osama Bin Laden, an anti-American Islamic militant from Saudi Arabia, who was the founder of the Jihadist organization Al-Qaeda. In conjunction with several other Islamic militant leaders, bin Laden issued two fatawa – in 1996 and then again in 1998 – that Muslims should kill military personnel from the United States until they withdraw military forces from Islamic countries and withdraw support for Israel.
After the 1996 fatwa, entitled "Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places", bin Laden was put on a criminal file by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) under an American Civil War statute which forbids instigating violence and attempting to overthrow the U.S. government. He has also been indicted in United States federal court for his alleged involvement in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya, and was on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.
Bin Laden has claimed responsibility for the September 11, 2001 attacks in videos released to the public. On 14 January 2009, bin Laden vowed to continue the fight and open up new fronts against the U.S. on behalf of the Islamic world.
In 2002 and in mid-2004 Zogby International polled the favorable/unfavorable ratings of the U.S. in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In Zogby's 2002 survey, 76% of Egyptians had a negative attitude toward the United States, compared with 98% in 2004. In Morocco, 61% viewed the country unfavorably in 2002, but in two years, that number had jumped to 88 percent. In Saudi Arabia, such responses rose from 87% in 2002 to 94% in 2004. Attitudes were virtually unchanged in Lebanon but improved slightly in the UAE, from 87% who said in 2002 that they disliked the United States to 73% in 2004. However, most of these countries mainly objected to foreign policies that they considered unfair.
The chant "Death to America" (Persian: مرگ بر آمریکا) has been in use in Iran since at least the Iranian revolution in 1979, along with other phrases often represented as anti-American. A 1953 coup which involved the CIA was cited as a grievance. State-sponsored murals characterised as anti-American dot the streets of Tehran. It has been suggested that under Ayatollah Khomeini anti-Americanism was little more than a way to distinguish between domestic supporters and detractors, and even the phrase "Great Satan" which has previously been associated with anti-Americanism, appears to now signify either the United States or the United Kingdom.
The Iran hostage crisis that lasted from 1979 to 1981, in which fifty-two Americans were held hostage in Tehran for 444 days, was also a demonstration of anti-Americanism, one which considerably worsened mutual perceptions between the U.S. and Iran.
Anti Americanism is felt very strongly in Jordan and has been on the rise since at least 2003. Despite the fact that Jordan is one of America's closest allies in the Middle East and the Government of Jordan is pro-American and pro-Western, Anti Americanism amongst Jordanians is amongst the largest in the world. Anti Americanism rose dramatically after the 2003 invasion of Iraq when the United States, The United Kingdom, Australia and many other allies, invaded Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein from power. According to several Pew Research Attitudes polls conducted since 2003, 99% of Jordanians viewed the U.S. unfavorably and 82% of Jordanians viewed American people unfavorably. Although negative attitudes have gone down to 85%, Anti Americanism is still amongst the most widespread in Jordan than any other country in the world.
Negative attitudes towards the USA's influence on the world has risen in Pakistan as a result of U.S. drone attacks on the country introduced by George W. Bush and continued by Barack Obama. In a poll surveying opinions towards the United States, Pakistan scored as the most negatively aligned nation, jointly alongside Serbia.
In July 2013, Palestinian Cleric Ismat Al-Hammouri, a leader of the Jerusalem-based Hizb ut-Tahrir, called for the destruction of America, France and Britain and Rome to conquer and destroy the enemies of the "Nation of Islam”. He warned: "We warn you, oh America: Take your hands off the Muslims. You have wreaked havoc in Syria, and before that, in Afghanistan and in Iraq, and now in Egypt," shouted the cleric to the enthusiastic replies of the crowd. "Who do you think we are, America? We are the nation of Islam — a giant and mighty nation, which extends from east to west. Soon, we will teach you a political and military lesson, Allah willing. Allah Akbar. All glory to Allah". Al-Hammouri also warned US president Barack Obama that there is an impending rise of a united Muslim empire that will instill religious law on all of its subjects.
In Turkey, anti-American protestors held signs saying "Obama, new president of the American imperialism that is the enemy of the world’s people, your hands are also bloody. Get out of our country". when Barack Obama visited Turkey. Protestors also shouted phrases such as "Yankee go home" and "Obama go home".
J. Ceaser has claimed that anti-Americanism in Europe has been an influence on Islamic terrorists, though his views have been described as 'combative'.
Ozgur Taskaya states that the root of secular anti-Americanism in Turkey lies within the so-called conspiracy theories about the USA.
In a 2003 article, historian David Ellwood identified what he called three great roots of anti-Americanism:
- Representations, images and stereotypes (from the birth of the Republic onwards)
- The challenge of economic power and the American model of modernization (principally from the 1910s and 1920s on)
- The organized projection of U.S. political, strategic and ideological power (from World War II on)
He went on to say that expressions of the phenomenon in the last 60 years have contained ever-changing combinations of these elements, the configurations depending on internal crises within the groups or societies articulating them as much as anything done by American society in all its forms.
In 2004, Sergio Fabbrini wrote that the perceived post-9/11 unilateralism of the 2003 invasion of Iraq fed deep rooted anti-American feeling in Europe, bringing it to the surface. In his article, he highlighted European fears surrounding the Americanization of the economy, culture and political process of Europe. Fabbrini in 2011 identified a cycle in anti-Americanism: modest in the 1990s, it grew explosively between 2003 and 2008, then declined after 2008. He sees the current version as related to images of American foreign policy-making as unrestrained by international institutions or world opinion. Thus it is the unilateral policy process and the arrogance of policy makers, not the specific policy decisions, that are decisive.
During the George W. Bush administration, public opinion of America declined in most European countries. A Pew Global Attitudes Project poll showed "favourable opinions" of America between 2000 and 2006 dropping from 83% to 56% in the United Kingdom, from 62% to 39% in France, from 78% to 37% in Germany and from 50% to 23% in Spain.
In Europe in 2002, vandalism of American companies was reported in Athens, Zürich, Tbilisi, Moscow and elsewhere. In Venice, 8 to 10 masked individuals claiming to be anti-globalists attacked a McDonald's restaurant. In Athens, at the demonstrations commemorating the 17 November Uprising there is a march towards the US embassy to emphasize the US backing of the Greek military junta of 1967–1974 attended by many people each year.
Hatlapa and Markovits portray President Obama as an angel – or more exactly, like a rock star – in contrast to the devilish image of Bush. Hence his early Nobel Peace Prize. But they argue that "Obamamania" masks a deep-seated distrust and disdain of America.
In France, the term "Anglo-Saxon" often is used in expressions of anti-Americanism or Anglophobia. It also has had more nuanced uses in discussions by French writers on French decline, especially as an alternative model to which France should aspire, how France should adjust to its two most prominent global competitors, and how it should deal with social and economic modernization.
In the 1950s the Suez Crisis of 1956 caused dismay among the French right, which already was angry at the lack of American support during Dien Bien Phu in 1954. For the Socialists and Communists of the French left, it was the Vietnam War and U.S. imperialism that were the sources of resentment. Much later, the alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq affair certainly dirtied the previously favourable image. In 2008, 85% of the French people considered the American government and banks to be most liable for the Financial crisis of 2007–2010.
In her contribution to the seminal book Anti-Americanisms in World Politics edited by Peter Katzenstein and Robert Keohane in 2006, Sophie Meunier writes about French anti-Americanism. She contends that although it has a long history (older than the U.S. itself) and is the most easily recognizable anti-Americanism in Europe, it may not have had real policy consequences on the United States and thus may have been less damaging than more pernicious and invisible anti-Americanism in other countries.
In 2013, 33% of the French had a "very unfavorable" or "somewhat unfavorable" view of Americans and 36% viewed the U.S. in a "very unfavorable" or "somewhat unfavorable" light.
Although the Dutch have generally held a favorable attitude toward America, there were negative currents in the aftermath of World War II as the Dutch blamed American policy for the loss of their Asian Empire to Indonesia. They credited their rescue from the Nazis in 1944-45 to the Canadian Army. Postwar attitudes continued the perennial ambiguity of anti-Americanism: the love-hate relationship, or willingness to adopt American cultural patterns while at the same time voicing criticism of them. In the 1960s, anti-Americanism revived largely in reaction against the Vietnam War. Its major early advocates were non-party-affiliated, left-wing students, journalists, and intellectuals. Dutch public opinion polls (1975–83) indicate a stable attitude toward the United States; only 10% of the people were unswervingly anti-American. The most strident rhetoric came from the left wing of Dutch politics and can largely be attributed to the consequences of Dutch participation in NATO.
Russia has long history of Anti-Americanism, dating back to early days of Cold War. In some of the latest Russian population polls, United States and its allies, constantly top the list of "greatest threats". In 2013, 30% of Russians had a "very unfavorable" or "somewhat unfavorable" view of Americans and 40% viewed the U.S. in a "very unfavorable" or "somewhat unfavorable" light, up from 34% in 2012. Recent Polls from the Levada center survey shows that 71% of Russians they have a negative or somewhat negative attitude to the U.S., up from 38% in 2013. It is the largest figure since the collapse of the USSR. In comparison to the 1990's the number of Russians unhappy with American policies at that time was only under 10%.
In August 2014, forces of Ukraine's new pro-Western government had completely surrounded the pro-Russian rebel-held Luhansk. Luhansk was under the heavy shelling of Ukrainian artillery. The war photographer Stanley Greene, on assignment for Newsweek, reported: "If you talk to people in Luhansk, they say everything is the fault of the Ukrainian military. They also blame President Obama. That is what they say. ‘Obama is bombing us.’ ‘Obama wants our gas.’"
In 2006, the BBC published an article discussing the experiences of Americans living in the United Kingdom.
The Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition (AABCC) was formed on the basis of lobbying and protests that developed over the years from the 1960s when the majority of U.S. bases in Australia were established. It was founded by the New South Wales branch of the PND (People For Nuclear Disarmament). In 1974, several hundred people travelled to North West Cape from around Australia to protest and occupy the base. Anti-Americanism is known to exist among school teachers in Australia, which has been condemned by government officials. In August 2005, Treasurer Peter Costello condemned anti-American sentiment by teachers and criticised the teaching of history in Australian schools. John Kilcullen, professor and senior research fellow in the department of Politics and International Relations – Macquarie University, says that the Middle Eastern conflict foments anti-American sentiments in Australia, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. According to an article published by The Monthly magazine, Australian people muttered stories about George W. Bush over glasses of beer and despaired of neoconservatism in coffee shops, lamenting the so-called Ugly American activities. Rupert Murdoch, during his visit to Australia, said that he was worried about a regrettable anti-American sentiment in the country. In a poll taken by US magazine Reader's Digest with 1000 Australians, 15 percent of Australians described themselves as "anti-American". Another 67 percent held neutral views of America, and 17 percent said they were "pro-American". In the survey, 71 percent of Australians said they would not like to live in the US.
In China, there has been a history of anti-Americanism, beginning with the general disdain for foreigners in the early 19th century that culminated in the Boxer Rebellion of 1900.
When Mao Zedong and the Communists came to power in 1948, he launched an anti-American campaign that intensified as China and the U.S. fought a major undeclared war in Korea, 1950–53. One of Mao's goals was to identify and destroy factions inside China that might be favorable to capitalism.
Mao never intended on friendly relations with the U.S., Sheng argues. Mao ridiculed the U.S. as a "paper tiger," occupiers of Taiwan, "the enemy of the people of the world and has increasingly isolated itself" and "monopoly capitalist groups”.
After Mao's death and the Chinese economic reforms of the 1980s hostility diminished sharply, and large-scale trade and investments, as well as cultural exchanges became major factors.
The Taiwanese Strait Crisis has led China to blame the U.S. for any issues that arise in the bilateral relationship between China and Taiwan, as they believe that American support of Taiwan is an effort to weaken their country. Relations became severely strained by the NATO Bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in May 1999, which was blamed on an intelligence error but which some Chinese believed to be deliberate. Recently, in 2009, Luo Ping, a director-general at the China Banking Regulatory Commission, criticized America's laissez-faire capitalism and said that he hated America when the United States Treasury would start to print money and depreciate the value of the US dollar, thus cheapening the value of China's purchase of U.S. bonds. Chinese hackers have also conducted extensive cyberwarfare against American institutions and citizens targeting the U.S. and its Western allies. Furthermore, China's leaders present their country as an alternative to the meddling power of the West. In 2013, 54% of the Chinese had a "very unfavorable" or "somewhat unfavorable" view of Americans and 53% viewed the U.S. in a "very unfavorable" or "somewhat unfavorable" light.
Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained was going to be the first Tarantino film approved for official distribution in China’s strictly controlled film market. It was reported that the film will be released on 12 May 2013. Lily Kuo, on Quartz, wrote that "the film depicts one of America’s darker periods, when slavery was legal, which Chinese officials like to use to push back against criticism from the United States".
In Japan, objections to the behavior and presence of American military personnel are sometimes reported as anti-Americanism, such as the 1995 Okinawa rape incident. The ongoing U.S. military presence in Okinawa remains a contentious issue in Japan.
While protests have arisen because of specific incidents, they are often reflective of deeper historical resentments. Robert Hathaway, director of the Wilson Center's Asia program, suggests: "The growth of anti-American sentiment in both Japan and South Korea must be seen not simply as a response to American policies and actions, but as reflective of deeper domestic trends and developments within these Asian countries". In Japan, a variety of threads have contributed to anti-Americanism in the post-war era, including pacifism on the left, nationalism on the right, and opportunistic worries over American influence in Japanese economic life.
Speaking to the Wilson Center, Katherine Moon notes that while the majority of South Koreans support the American alliance "anti-Americanism also represents the collective venting of accumulated grievances that in many instances have lain hidden for decades”. In the 1990s, scholars, policy makers, and the media noted that anti-Americanism was motivated by the rejection of authoritarianism and a resurgent nationalism, this nationalist Anti-Americanism continued into the 2000s fuelled by a number of incidents such as the ‘IMF’ crisis. During the early 1990s, Western princess, prostitutes for American soldiers became a symbol of Anti-American nationalism.
"Dear American" is an anti-American song sung by Psy. "Fucking USA" is an anti-American protest song written by South Korean singer and activist Yoon Min-suk. Strongly anti-US foreign policy and anti-Bush, the song was written in 2002 at a time when, following the Apolo Ohno Olympic controversy and an incident in which two Korean middle school students were killed under the wheels of a U.S. Army vehicle, anti-American sentiment in South Korea reached high levels. However, by 2009, a majority of South Koreans were reported as having a favorable view of the United States.
In North Korea, July is the "Month of Joint Anti-American Struggle," with festivities to denounce the U.S.
However, 74% of South Koreans have a favorable view of the U.S., making South Korea one of the world's most pro-American countries.
The Anti-American sentiment in the Philippines has been rising since 2009 due to the controversial Visiting Forces Agreement, the historical Philippine–American War, and the 1898–1946 period of American rule.
Many loyalists of dictator Ferdinand Marcos have protested against the presence of American military forces in the Philippines. Their reason for supporting the anti-American sentiment is the role of the United States in framing up and overthrowing President Marcos in 1986.
In October 2012, American ships were found dumping toxic wastes into Subic Bay, spurring Anti-Americanism and setting the stage for multiple rallies.
However, a poll conducted in 2011 by the BBC found that 90% of Filipinos have a favorable view of the U.S., higher than the view of the U.S. in any other country.
"The United States hastens the delivery of arms to the puppet governments they see as being increasingly threatened; it makes them sign pacts of dependence to legally facilitate the shipment of instruments of repression and death and of troops to use them”.
In Latin America, anti-American sentiment has deep roots dating back to the 1830s and the 1836 Texas Revolution, in which the province seceded from Mexico. Nine years later, encouraged by the Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny, the United States annexed the Republic of Texas – at its request, but against vehement opposition by Mexico, which refused to recognize Texas' independence – and began its aggressive expansion into Western North America. :53–4, 57–8 Mexican anti-American sentiment was further inflamed by the resulting 1846–1848 Mexican-American War, in which Mexico lost more than half of its territory to the U.S.:57–8 The Chilean writer Francisco Bilbao predicted in America in Danger (1856) that the loss of Texas and northern Mexico to "the talons of the eagle" was just a foretaste of an American bid for world domination.:104 Such interventions from the USA prompted a later ruler of Mexico, Porfirio Diaz, to lament "Poor Mexico, so far from God, and so close to the United States".:104 Mexico's National Museum of Interventions, opened in 1981, is a testament to Mexico's sense of grievance with the United States.:121
The 1855 American intervention in Nicaragua and the Spanish-American War of 1898, which turned Cuba into a virtual dependency of the United States, in the context of the Big Stick ideology espoused by Theodore Roosevelt's corollary to the Monroe Doctrine that led to numerous interventions in Central America and the Caribbean, also prompted hatred of the US in other regions of the Americas. A very influential formulation of Latin-American anti-Americanism, engendered by the 1898 war, was the Uruguayan journalist José Enrique Rodó's essay Ariel (1900) in which the spiritual values of the South American Ariel are contrasted to the brutish mass-culture of the American Caliban. This essay had enormous influence throughout Spanish America in the 1910s and 1920s, and prompted resistance to what was seen as American cultural imperialism. Perceived racist attitudes of the white Anglo-Saxon Protestants of the North towards the populations of Latin America also caused resentment.
In the twentieth century, American support for the 1954 Guatemalan coup d'état against the democratically elected President Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán fueled anti-Americanism in the region. This CIA-sponsored coup prompted a former president of that country, Juan José Arévalo to write a fable entitled The Shark and the Sardines (1961) in which a predatory shark (representing the USA) overawes the sardines of Latin America.:114
Vice-President Richard Nixon's tour of South America in 1958 prompted a spectacular eruption of anti-Americanism. The tour became the focus of violent protests which climaxed in Caracas, Venezuela where Nixon was almost killed by a raging mob as his motorcade drove from the airport to the city. In response, President Dwight D. Eisenhower assembled troops at Guantanamo Bay and a fleet of battleships in the Caribbean to intervene to save Nixon if necessary. :826–34
Fidel Castro, the revolutionary leader of Cuba, has throughout his career tried to co-ordinate long-standing Latin American resentments against the USA through military and propagandist means. He was aided in this goal by the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba in 1961, planned and implemented by the American government against his regime. This disaster ruined American credibility in the Americas and gave a boost to her critics worldwide.:893–907 According to Rubin and Rubin, Castro's Second Declaration of Havana, in February 1962, "constituted a declaration of war on the United States and the enshrinement of a new theory of anti-Americanism".:115 Castro called America "a vulture...feeding on humanity":862 The United States embargo against Cuba maintained resentment and Castro's colleague, the famed revolutionary Che Guevara, expressed his hopes during the Vietnam War of "creating a Second or a Third Vietnam" in the Latin American region against the designs of what he believed to be US imperialism. The 1964 Brazilian coup d'état, the invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965, US involvement in Operation Condor, the 1973 Chilean and 1976 Argentine Coup d'états, and the Salvadoran Civil War, the support of the Contras, the training of furure war criminals in the School of the Americas and the refusal to extradite a convicted terrorist, U.S. support for dictators such as Augusto Pinochet, Anastasio Somoza, Alfredo Stroessner and pre-1989 Manuel Noriega have continued to influence regional attitudes in a negative way.
The perceived failures of the neo-liberal reforms of the 1980s and the 1990s intensified opposition to the Washington consensus, leading to a resurgence in support for Pan-Americanism, support for popular movements in the region, the nationalization of key industries and centralization of government. America's tightening of the economic embargo on Cuba in 1996 and 2004 also caused resentment among Latin American leaders and has prompted them to use the Rio Group and the Madrid-based Ibero-American Summits as meeting places rather than the American dominated OAS. This trend has been reinforced through the creation of a series of regional political bodies such as Unasur and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, and a strong opposition to the materialization of the Washington-sponsored Free Trade Area of the Americas at the 2005 4th Summit of the Americas.
Furthermore, the renewal of the concession for the U.S. military base in Manta, Ecuador was met by considerable criticism, derision, and even doubt by the supporters of such an expansion. The near-war sparked by the 2008 Andean diplomatic crisis was expressed by a high-level Ecuadorean military officer as being carried under American auspices. The officer said "a large proportion of senior officers," share "the conviction that the United States was an accomplice in the attack" (launched on by the Colombian military on a FARC camp in Ecuador, near the Colombian border). The Ecuadorean military retaliated by stating the 10-year lease on the base, which expired in November 2009, would not be renewed and that the U.S. military presence was expected to be scaled down starting three months before the expiration date.
Relations have been tense since the 1940s, when the U.S. feared Argentina was too close to Nazi Germany. Polls compiled by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs showed in 2006 Argentine public opinion was quite negative regarding America's role in the world. Argentine public opinion of the U.S. and U.S. policies improved during the Obama administration, and as of 2010 was divided about evenly (42% to 41%) between those who viewed these favorably or unfavorably. In 2007, 26% of Argentinos had a favourable view of the American people, with 57% having an unfavourable view, but this improved somewhat in 2013, with 38% having a favourable view and 40% having an unfavourable view.
Anti-Americanism in Canada has unique historic roots. When the Continental Congress was called in 1774, an invitation was sent to Quebec (then known as Canada) and Nova Scotia. However Canadians expressed little interest in joining the Congress, and the following year the American army invaded Canada, but was defeated at the Battle of Quebec. Although the American Articles of Confederation later pre-approved Canada as a U.S. state, public opinion had turned against them. Soon 40,000 loyalist refugees arrived from the United States, including 2,000 Black Loyalists, many of whom had fought for the Crown against the American Revolution. To them, the republic they left behind was violent and anarchic, ruled by money and mob rule. Pro-British imperialists repeatedly warned against American-style republicanism and democracy as little more than mob rule. Anti-Americanism, as a political tactic, was sometimes used by the Conservatives to attack the supposed Liberal Party affinity for Americans, as in the 1911 elections. Anti-Americanism thus remained a fixture in Canadian partisan politics, as employed by such leaders as prime minister John G. Diefenbaker in the 1950s.
Canadian intellectuals, who wrote about the U.S. in the first half of the 20th century, identified the United States as the world center of modernity, and deplored it. Imperialists explained that Canadians had narrowly escaped American conquest with its rejection of tradition, its worship of "progress" and technology, and its mass culture; they explained that Canada was much better because of its commitment to orderly government and societal harmony. There were a few ardent defenders of the nation to the south, notably liberal and socialist intellectuals such as F. R. Scott and Jean-Charles Harvey (1891–1967).
Brendon O'Connor & Martin Griffiths state in their book Anti-Americanism that they would at first glance think that Canadians seem as likely as others to embrace characteristics that are characterised as anti-American. O'Conner and Griffiths include such actions as criticising Americans as a people, or the US as a country as being anti-American often demonising, denigrating and resorting to stereotypes. They have also written that the Anti-Americanism found in Canada had unique qualities: nowhere else has it been so entrenched for so long, nor so central to the political culture as in Canada. Canadian historian Kim Richard Nossal thinks that a low level attenuated form of anti-Americanism permeates Canadian political culture, though "designed primarily as a means to differentiate Canadians from Americans". Although Jack Granatstein has suggested that Anti-Americanism was dead in Canada, John Herd Thompson and Stephen J. Randall in their book Canada and the United States (2002) states that there is anecdotal evidence that it still flourishes, and that it continues to nourish the Canadian sense of identity.
Margaret Atwood is a leading Canadian author. In her dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale (1986) all the horrible developments take place in the United States near Boston, while Canada is portrayed as the only hope for an escape. This reflects her status of being "in the vanguard of Canadian anti-Americanism of the 1960s and 1970s." Critics have seen Gilead (the U.S.) as a repressive regime and the mistreated Handmaid as Canada. During the debate in 1987 over a free trade agreement between Canada and the United States, Atwood spoke out against the deal, and wrote an essay opposing the agreement.
- Category:Human rights abuses in the United States
- United States and state-sponsored terrorism
- Foreign relations of the United States
- American stereotypes
- United States and state terrorism
- American imperialism
- How the World Sees America
- Covert U.S. regime change actions
- List of United States military history events
- Overseas expansion of the United States
- Washington Obkom
- Opposition to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War
- Opposition to the Iraq War
- Cultural Imperialism
- September 11 attacks
- Anti-American sentiment in Korea
- Anti-Sovietism – similar concept as Anti-Americanism
- Ugly American (pejorative)
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