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Reasons for disliking the US

Reader comment on item: Europeans: From Venus?

Submitted by NR (United Kingdom), Dec 6, 2003 at 14:30

There are quite a few reasons why people in other countries dislike the US. Sour grapes is one of them in a lot of cases - the US is incredibly wealthy and powerful. However, I think the main reason is that a lot of people feel betrayed by the US. The US was supposed to be the heartland of democracy and freedom.

After the end of the Cold War, there was finally a chance - for probably the first time ever - to really improve the world, to reduce starvation, disease and poverty. However, the US is depressingly reluctant to do the slightest thing that threatens its hegemony - Kyoto showed us that a few jobs are more important to them than the air of the whole world, while the refusal to change trade laws showed us that they're quite happy for the system to remain biased toward them.

It still acts like a Cold War antagonist in its foreign policy, attacking other countries for extremely tenuous reasons. Iraq is too expensive to be purely for the oil, but Hussein wasn't nearly nasty enough - by the standards of the region, and so by the standards of the regime that can eventually be expected to replace him in the long-term, after the US leave - for it to be for genuine humanitarian reasons (there are much, much better examples of oppressive regimes who could've been got first). Can it really be just Mr Bush finishing his father's war? I really hope not.

Or the American people feeling the need for more vengeance after September 11th 2001? This also seems unreasonable ... it was a pretty nasty tragedy, but there have been much worse tragedies throughout history, and much worse things happen every day. 25,000 people dying of starvation every day is the usual thing to mention here - makes the 3000 killed then look like a drop in the ocean - obviously not to them and theirs, but it still needs to kept in some sort of perspective.

It preaches altruism, but cynically practises realpolitik. It preaches democracy, but look at their last election! The guy who less people voted for won! And the deciding factor was a state the guy's brother ran. And the Supreme Court judges, deciding on whether to have a recount or not, ALL voted in line with their political affiliation (the most shameful part of the whole affair, IMHO ... did nobody consider that, regardless of cheating, if a vote is that close another should be taken just to make sure of what the people actually want?)

Most of all, the impression the US gives is of a rich, but unhappy land. Those statistics about high school students not knowing the first thing about other countries (or much of anything at all), however questionable, along with such ridiculous things as a few schools refusing to teach about evolution, have given the rest of the world the impression that the US citizens aren't that bright. The existence of religious fantacism is worrying too - sure, there are a lot of religious folk in Europe, but they don't get allowed to affect what's taught in schools in any real way, most of the time! Allowing people to walk around with objects only designed to maim and kill doesn't really give the Europeans a good impression of the US' claims to preferring peace (they let Ozzy Osbourne have a gun, and he's pretty brain-fried - that really worries me!). Some bad statistics about US obesity gives the Europeans the impression that the whole of the US is overweight and unhealthy (however much our own statistics aren't so far behind...). The terrible, terrible environmental record of the US is another major black mark, and in my opinion an entirely justified one. The only things the US has going for it is power and money.

Why would the Europeans want to follow them?

Norm
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