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Guys, the following article from the Guardian (U.K. newspaper) provides an indication of how
many people in the U.K. and in Europe view the U.S. in the post 9/11 era.


A degree in bullying and self-interest? No thanks
The decline of American studies reveals our increasing dislike of the
US

Polly Toynbee
e-mail: p.toynbee@guardian.co.uk

Wednesday August 25, 2004

The GuardianTurn to the Guardian's university clearing pages and there are
many vacancies for a subject that was once hugely popular. Until recently,
American studies departments sprang up everywhere. But no longer.

Now 28 universities still have American studies places unfilled, and they
include many at well-regarded institutions - Essex, Keele, Kent and Swansea
among them. Due to lack of demand, five universities have closed American
studies departments while others have cut staff. Keele, traditionally the
top-ranking American studies department, with a maximum, grade five ranking
for research for the past few years, has had to fire half its staff.
Professor Ian Bell at Keele says: "Students don't want to be branded by
doing American studies. They still want to do American modules as part of
English or history but, after Bush, they shy away from being labelled as
pro-American - not after the obscenity of Iraq."

It's only a straw in the wind: student choices are notoriously fickle. But
it fits the picture of a groundswell of anti-American feeling. Where in the
world could you walk down the street and not collect overwhelmingly
negative vox pops on Bush's America and its global impact? Last year's
BBC/ICM poll, taken in a string of countries across the continents, found
only Israel in support of Bush - with Canada, Australia and Korea least
unfavourable, but still with a majority against.

That is not necessarily the same as anti-Americanism. The Bushites in their
daily, foul-mouthed email assaults on Guardian writers try to portray
current anti-American sentiment as racist, akin to anti-semitic. They try
to pretend "old" Europe is just effetely snobbish about the Ugly Americans.
They dismiss anti-Bush disgust in developing countries as envy and as
ignorant support for terror.

But opinion polls make it clear that people are well able to separate their
feelings about Americans from the politicians and policies now occupying
the White House: 81% of the British say, "I like the Americans as people",
according to Mori, but only 19% admire American society. They
overwhelmingly reject the proposition "We would be better off if we were
more like the Americans in many respects" - the view of the right and of
younger Tories infatuated with US neo-conservatism.

How much wider the Atlantic has grown under Bush. A Mori poll for the
German Marshall Fund examined European attitudes towards America. It found
massive condemnation of US Middle East policy (among the British just as
strongly) and equally strong opprobrium for US policies on global warming
and nuclear proliferation. Most Europeans - the British too - want the
European Union to become a superpower to match the US, with a strong
leadership in world affairs. (Americans said they wanted to be the only
superpower.) Yet there was also surprisingly strong support among
two-thirds of Europeans for strengthening Nato - even in France.

However, President Bush's election pledge this week to withdraw 70,000
troops from Germany and Korea may bring an abrupt end to Europe's old
doublethink on Nato. If the troops go, it may force Europe to confront the
hypocrisy of detesting America while relying on it to provide the defence
European nations refuse to pay for. The Bushite emailers are justified in
sneering, "We pulled your sorry asses out of two world wars" (the printable
version), and it's just as well Fox News hasn't covered celebrations in
Paris this week that pretend France liberated itself, with never a mention
of Europe's American saviours.

If a Bush victory brings a major withdrawal from Europe, it should prod the
EU into coordinating its defence capability, without having to beg the US
for a transport plane to mount every tiny border peacekeeping operation in
Macedonia. If the EU starts to put its still considerable defence spending
to better collective use, Bush won't like it: his ministers protested when
Blair and Chirac began the task.

If Bush wins it may galvanise Europe into a stronger sense of what it must
do in response. Forget Blair's phantom "bridge" across the Atlantic, and
start building across the Channel. (Sadly there has been no growth in
university applications to read European studies or languages.)

The world waits on the US elections with particular trepidation this time.
The fall of the Berlin wall was a great opportunity missed for America the
victor to become the global force for good it thinks it is. The fall of the
twin towers was a chance to reclaim that lost global respect, but in every
action Bush has swelled the ranks of those who cheered in the streets when
it happened.

ICM's poll reveals a world that thinks America arrogant, less cultured, a
worse place to live than their own countries and a threat to world peace.
Is that hatred now irreversibly hardwired?

A Kerry win might still do much to heal the rift, just by showing America
publicly renouncing Bush and all his works. Peering into Kerry's muddy
campaign messages, it is unclear whether the man can be far-sighted, brave
and decisive. On Nato troops, for example, he first said he would consider
withdrawing them, then said it was a mistake, then that it should be done
but more slowly.

The insane necessities of a presidential campaign make it impossible to
know what manner of president will emerge at the end, but if Kerry does
indeed make it his mission to repair America's global standing, he will
have a brief window of global goodwill in which to try his best.

The underlying picture of attitudes towards America suggests a miasma of
confusion and deep emotion: the idea of America is woven deep into the
universal imagination. When prompted, the world can also admit to seeing
the US as that beacon of liberty and opportunity that Americans dream
themselves to be.

Hardly a child born can avoid drinking in the great American myth from
those Disney realms where the simple, humble and virtuous win through every
time against the rich, corrupt and greedy. How is that self-image squared
with the monster the world perceives? The old Hollywood morality tales from
Shane and It's a Wonderful Life still spin out into Spiderman or I, Robot,
celebrating the little guy who beats the monster corporation. Homespun
American goodness warring with the cruelties of raw capitalism is the
dominant Hollywood theme, yet little of this culture enters the US
political bloodstream.

Between the American ideal and the American reality falls the longest
shadow. Discuss. It's well worth more study. If John Kerry wins and sets
about repairing the damage Bush has done, it may get American studies
flourishing again - and stem the global tide of anti-Americanism.



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