Opinion Page: Don't Believe the Hype

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Pakistani protesters at an anti-Karzai rally last week.

Pakistani protesters at an anti-Karzai rally last week. Source: TARIQ MAHMOOD/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Source: TARIQ MAHMOOD/AFP/Getty Images

"Anti-American sentiment" is a phrase invoked so often, and by so many, that it is practically conventional wisdom — whether we are talking about the Middle East, or even Europe, or South America. Every year Pew pollsters release their global attitudes survey, and this year is no different — people really, really, dislike us. Enter perpetual contrarian Fouad Adjami — his Wall Street Journal oped expresses his own anti - anti - American theory (yes, that's a double negative, on purpose). Read the piece — and add your own arguments — below.

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The anit american is not about the american culture, but about the american government's foreign policy.

Sent by azad | 2:50 PM | 6-23-2008

Wow, What a SURPRISE! Another halfbaked "essayist" from The Wall Street Journal. Instead of dealing with methodological issues pertaining to the Pew study, we get anecdotes and random "facts" that seem to not intuitively jive with the author. Why are opinion page guests selected from a proven right wing biased Rupert Murdoch owned sources?

Sent by kent strock | 2:51 PM | 6-23-2008

The anti-American attitudes are greater because of the greater reach of the press and the internet. Abu Gahraib abuses, the horrible Guantanamo Bay prison camp, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqui people killed in the current ware show the US to be feared and untrustworthy.

Sent by Earl Nissen | 2:54 PM | 6-23-2008

Are we focusing on happy talk today? Why should we believe this shill who gets paid to tell Wall Street that the arab world really loves them? Do us a favor and get a guest to tell Californians that those smoky fires are just really June barbecues.

It's time you left Washington for a while and talked to people who used to work for a living.

Sent by John Yaya | 2:56 PM | 6-23-2008

Just returned from Morocco...people do not openly disagree with America; however, they DO dislike our President and his policies...this causes me great concern.

Sent by Louis Adams | 2:58 PM | 6-23-2008

At the end of the day, anti-Americanism is useless. We have problems but much of the rest of the world has such congenital problems it makes our foibles pale in comparison. The Europeans are flaccid and useless as graphically displayed in Bosnia in 1995. Much of the Arab world is a basket case marked by social, economic and intellectual oppression and lack of opportunity. India is corrupt from top to bottom and will never reach its potential. China is a repressive and poluted mess. People vote with their feet and they are voting for the American brand. Look at emmigration vs immigration rates.

Sent by Mark Salas | 3:02 PM | 6-23-2008

It is refreshing to hear Fouad Ajami's opinion on anti-Americanism. His comment that the purported anti-Americanism abroad may be just as much a reflection of the pollster as anything else rings very true. He also seems to understand that not everything told a pollster reflects real opinion. I find that the strangely gleeful reportage of some of these poll findings in the States is, to say the least, creepy. It is in the same category with the reporting that the UN is seriously investigating prisons in the US. It is not that there is no anti-Americanism or deplorable conditions in our jails - it is that there must be context given to these opinions and investigations.

Sent by SGM | 3:09 PM | 6-23-2008

Here in Alaska, too often gun ownership is an attitude. Macho, wild west, no one can stop me is often heard. I've dealt with both gun policy on a local level and violence resulting from gun use. I am in favor of fewer guns and restricted use.

Sent by Heather Flynn | 3:21 PM | 6-23-2008

Excellent discussion with Fouad Ajami. As a student living in Europe in the 1970's, I associated with many North African students, including accompanying them on travels. Most of the anti-Western sentiments heard today were expressed then, usually including condemnation for supporting Israel and Western economic, cultural and military dominance. The United States was usually the chief villain, however frequently France was the main target of their resentment.

Sent by European Student | 4:57 PM | 6-23-2008

Your commentator is, of course, entitled to his opinion.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/poll/2008/jun/11/georgebush.usforeignpolicy?gusrc=rss&feed=commentisfree

Sent by David Ballantyne | 4:59 PM | 6-23-2008

Hi... I am the person who called during the program to talk about my personal experience with my Pakistani relatives. I mentioned my blog on the radio; I thought you guys might be interested to see it:

http://www.globallyrational.com

Sent by Shan-ul-Hai | 8:25 PM | 6-23-2008

I'm not concerned about "Anti-Americanism", but I am concerned about how much respect we lost due to Bush's war. We lost our ability to call out other countries on unprovoked conflict and occupation without being hypocritical.

Not just Bush's pitiable oratory abilities, but his actions reflect poorly on all Americans.

Living abroad, I now have to start all bar conversations with an apology for our leader.

Sent by Alex | 5:01 AM | 6-24-2008

It's typical of the WSJ's American triumphalism to see it flout world opinion, but the truth, as recognized by a growing number of Americans, is that we live in a global society where our actions have global consequences - this despite the fantasies of those who want to bury their heads in the sand and pretend we still live in an age where colonial dominance and international bullying is an acceptable mode of operations in an interconnected world. If you don't believe me, just pay attention to the condescencion and derision in his tone as he refers to how Turkey no longer "knows its place" in the world - a place which the WSJ is no doubt eminently placed to instruct Turkey in!

And if he looked a little deeper, he might see that the strife between secularism and sectarianism in modern Turkey has more to do with its wave of anti-American sentiment than his tired and predictable belief that Turkey has nothing better to do than aping the West - because of course, from his lofty throne atop Western culture, there is no better ideal that they could ever hope to aspire to.

I have also never heard complete political incompetence so beautifully rationalized away as in the phrase, "indifferent to political protocol". A true masterpiece of right-wing toadying, if ever I have heard one. But at least in the end, he cannot resist using the hegemonist's phrase ("Pax Americana") - so secure is he that he has befogged his readers thoroughly enough that they will read his arrogant contempt for foreign self-determination as benevolence.

It is fortunate that not all of us share his narrow and prideful view of American power - or else he would be right that nothing more just is on the horizon. Fortunately, he is wrong there, as everywhere else in this detestable article.

Sent by Kasreyn | 9:13 AM | 6-24-2008

Here. Here. Alex. When I'm in France, I often have to apologize for America's role in their liberation during WWII. They would have rather been speaking German now than to have been tied up with our disgraceful sham of a country. Shame on us. Excuse me while I get my lighter fluid and American flag.

Sent by Sue | 9:45 AM | 6-24-2008

These kinds of polls can be valuable because they track trends over time even if there are various problems built in. Let's not disregard them wholesale.

But of course they can never stand on their own and Fouad Adjami adds a rich dimension with this discussion.

Sent by gk | 10:47 PM | 6-24-2008

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