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to be killed or to be disliked, that is the question

Reader comment on item: America the Unpopular

Submitted by Stephane Hano (France), Nov 6, 2003 at 12:39

How is it possible for the United States to address the new threats of this century (international terrorism, political islam, rogue states) without being hated by other nations ?

As far as Europe is concerned, I am afraid to say (as a French) that there is absolutely no way out of this dilemma. From most French people, the mere fact of pointing at islamism or rogue states and considering them like threats for the security of this world is seen as something which is very close to racism or to western colonialism. On the contrary, it is very common to hear in European countries that the US or Israel are the main threats for peace (a recent survey in Europe led to this incredible observation : Europeans (at 60 %) think that Israel is a threat to peace and for 53 %the US is a threat to peace, the same proportion as for Iran or North Korea !). As a consequence, I think that even if Bush is replaced by a liberal government in the next elections, this government will be faced with exactly the same problem of cross atlantic incomprehension, unless it gives up trying to solve the problems of this planet, which is not a wise option, considering that the US is the only power right now which is capable of defending the democratic and liberal values of the West.

As far as the Islamic world is concerned, I think the problem is very different because there are many poltical opponents in most islamic countries who long for more freedom and liberty and who can support american interventionnism as the only way to promote democratic ideals in the islamic world. To gain these people's support, the US governement has to be very careful to the type of semantics it uses : no expression of despise towards non western culture, no expression of despise towards Islam as a religion, no 'clash of civilisations' ideology, instead active promotion of universal values such as freedom, democracy and tolerance.
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