Friday, April 06, 2007

International Perceptions of the United States since 9/11

It has never been more important for Americans to understand why the world both hates and loves the United States. In What They Think of Us, a remarkable group of writers from the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and Latin America describes the world's profoundly ambivalent attitudes toward the United States--before and since 9/11.

While many people around the world continue to see the United States as a model despite the Iraq war and the war on terror, the U.S. response to 9/11 has undoubtedly intensified global anti-Americanism. What They Think of Us reveals that substantial goodwill toward America still exists, but that this sympathy is in peril--and that there is an immense gap between how Americans view their country and how it is viewed abroad.

Drawing on broad research and personal experience while avoiding anecdotalism and polemics, the writers gathered here combine political, cultural, and historical analysis to explain how people in different parts of the world see the United States. They show that not all anti-Americanism can be blamed on U.S. foreign policy. America is disliked not just for what it does but also for what it is, and perceptions of both are profoundly shaped--and sometimes warped--by the domestic realities of the countries where anti-Americanism thrives. In addition to analyzing America's battered global reputation, these writers propose ways the United States and other countries can build better relations through greater understanding and respect.

David Farber is Professor of History at Temple University. His books include Taken Hostage: The Iran Hostage Crisis and America's First Encounter with Radical Islam (Princeton).


"These essays highlight what we have long observed from our international polling, that people do not judge us by what we say about ourselves, but by how they perceive we are threatening them. What They Think of Us is a must-read book for Ms. Karen Hughes and Co."--James J. Zogby, founder and President of the Arab American Institute

"This is an important and timely book. To my knowledge there is no other book that does what this one does--collect commentaries on the United States written by foreigners. It is terrifically fresh in its approach and a valuable addition to writing about the post-9/11 world."--Mark Lawrence, University of Texas, Austin

"Offering a broad international perspective on anti-American attitudes, What They Think of Us is timely and provocative. It helps explain why so many educated and even democratic-minded citizens around the world have grown increasingly critical of the United States in the last decade. The essays point to the corrosive effects of American military intervention, economic expansion, and cultural insensitivity. This book allows the reader to understand, if not always sympathize with, the experiences and attitudes of people who see the world very differently from the average American."--Jeremi Suri, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Table of Contents:
Contributors vii
Preface by David Farber xi
Iraqis' Bleak Views of the United States by Ibrahim Al-Marashi and Abdul Hadi al-Khalili 1
Beyond the Stained Glass Window: Indonesian Perceptions of the United States and the War on Terror by Melani Budianta 27
Turkish Perceptions of the United States by Nur Bilge Criss 49
Beautiful Imperialist or Warmongering Hegemon: Contemporary Chinese Views of the United States by Yufan Hao and Lin Su 74
From the Cold War to a Lukewarm Peace: Russian Views of September 11 and Beyond by Eric Shiraev and Olga Makhovskaya 95
Nuestro Once de Septiembre: The Kingdom of the Comma by Fernando Escalante-Gonzalbo and Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo 125
The Twilight of American Cultural Hegemony: A Historical Perspective on Western Europe's Distancing from America by Federico Romero 153Index 177
Chapter 1 [HTML] or [PDF format]


Anonymous said...

As the world's only hyper-power trying to stage-manage international affairs without paying heed to other established powers like Russia, France or Germany or parvenu ones like China,India and Brazil, the USA is bound to attract opprobrium.

Regardless of perceptions, which are prone to change with the beholder's current equation with the USA, what is going cast long shadows in the USA's future and influence it, will be its actions.

I think it is otiose to harp on USA's so-called values being the cause of the ire directed against it. This is simply turning a Nelson's eye to the main cause of grouse: the USA's strategy of sustaining its dominance by gaining control of strategic resources and not caring for the means it employs in the process, even it results in the weakening of another state.

Anonymous said...


After the towers fell, who was
More sympathetic than
Of populations global, both
French and Iranian?

To squander such a sympathy
Was sure a foolish thing--
As even victims of a crime
Reacting to may bring

Yet enmity of passers-by
And witnesses upon them
Because reaction uglified,
So none cares what was done them.

It is in times of crisis, stress
True nature is revealed:
Alas we showed ourselves a mess,
Most vulgar on the field.

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