Hating America

When you first hear that people in some parts of the world have a higher opinion of China than the United States, you think of the polls showing something like a third of all Democrats believe President Bush knew about the 9/11 attacks before they happened.

The polling in both cases, you figure, may have more to say about mental peculiarities than the state of reality, or maybe it simply reflects the fact that the technique of gathering opinions from masses of people is more sledgehammer than scalpel, a crude tool that lacks precision to the point of smashing qualifications and nuance.

I’ve been polled a few times in my life, and instead of giving “yes” or “no” answers that the pollster is seeking, I have wanted to say, “Well, yes, maybe, if you mean such and such, or perhaps no, if I can offer a bit of an explanation.”

As a pro-Democratic Internet group and at least one Democratic critic have pointed out, many of the Democrats who said Bush knew in advance about the attacks may simply have meant Bush had been warned ahead of time of the generic possibility of a terrorist attack, which is true. They may not have been paranoid lunatics, although, as the critic says, some likely were.

By the same token, the people recorded as putting more trust in what remains in many ways a vicious, repressive, double-dealing Chinese government than in the United States may be delusional or markedly uninformed or many times more subtle about the issue than they can express in polls. The widespread idea that the world is coming to hate America because America is in fact behaving horribly doesn’t stand up.

This idea gets explicit expression by Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International, who cites the survey in question and says our “foreign policy of fear” has caused us to act unilaterally and pre-emptively, making our allies move away from us, our enemies to hate us all the more and for “countries around the world” to view us as “arrogant, uncaring and insensitive.” In other words, the animosity is real, and we deserve it.

First off, of course, our allies are not all that alienated, as you can find by checking out the pro-American words from the heads of state in France, Germany and Great Britain. Seldom has such purring been heard. As for the Pew poll that gives us the data about mass opinion and America’s low standing in some places, it also tells us a lot of other things that can be understood as either qualifications or at least indications that the opinions were driven by factors different from what Zakaria outlines.

For instance, it’s not just the U.S. war in Iraq that seems to have displeased large numbers of people in Western Europe and all countries where Muslims are in the majority, but also the U.S. and NATO presence in Afghanistan. Most Americans, even including many of President Bush’s most extreme detractors, believe that ousting the Taliban from power in Afghanistan and seeking to crush al Qaeda there were justifiable actions. And, obviously, the United States did not act alone.

It’s interesting, too, as the scholar-columnist Victor Davis Hanson says, to note who applauds us and who doesn’t. The people saying phooey on us include Western Europeans, who have been doing that, if in somewhat lower percentages, for a long, long time.

Russians and Chinese aren’t enamored of us these days, but it’s not as if the Chinese have the blessings of a free press or that the Russians have yet shown full recovery from illiberal nationalism. The Middle East frowns on us, but, as Hanson notes, we have rescued Muslims from disaster and oppressors repeatedly, and poured billions into the Middle East without ever drowning a “venom” that hardly made its first appearance with the war in Iraq.

Meanwhile, our marks are high in Japan, South Korea, Eastern Europe, India and Africa — places where either our trade or aid and encouragement have made or are now beginning to make a large difference in the fulfilling of aspirations.

It can be argued that the United States has made any number of foreign-policy errors under the Bush administration — that the war in Iraq was a mistake — but that war was not unilateral, without justification or driven by irrational fear, and the errors hardly outweigh the countervailing good that continues to define this nation. It’s an important point to keep in mind during a presidential race in which the topic will keep coming up and the suggestion made that easily misread poll results are decisive in the argument.

(Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado. He can be reached at SpeaktoJay(at)aol.com.)

11 Responses to "Hating America"

  1. magnum588  November 20, 2007 at 5:39 am

    Hello everyone! First, let me introduce myself. My name is Magnus and I am a Scandinavian who has lived in the US for a couple of years.
    I must say that I personally disagree with most of the critics of president Bush. I recall how Reagan was portrayed as a silly cowboy in the 80’s with an unrealistic dream of a Soviet Union that would no longer exist. Personally, I thought he was pretty stupid. I look at him in a very different light today.
    I agree with with Mr. Ambrose that one needs to look behind the rhetoric and poll numbers. To my mind, intelligent people have the ability to do that, and some of my friends in senior positions secretly admire Bush for his courage to push for what is vitally needed in the Muslim world: Reform. To my mind, Tony Blair is not only a skilled and brave politician, but also someone who knows what is at stake. It may seem silly and utopian, but if the Muslim world does not reform, we are going to be in real trouble, especially with Islamic countries with nuclear capabilities.
    I suggest that people take a deep breath and really analyse the facts, and make an honest effort to try to understand the realities on the ground. I personally recommend the book “While Europe Slept” by Bruce Bawer. I dear you to read it!

  2. VietnamVet  August 16, 2007 at 10:21 am

    This article is so full of flaws that one does not know where to begin to comment. I find it hard to believe that any reputable columnist would tack his name on the article. That the US has lost respect in the world has been supported by a number of polls. You cannot only look at the comments of heads of states in specific countries; one has to look at the opinions of the PEOPLE of those countries. One report, for example, showed that only 16% of the people of Spain had a positive view of the US. I live here, and have for years, and I can tell you, I have not met ONE Spaniard that has a positive view of the US, let alone 16%! Furthermore, the last poll I saw showed that the PEOPLE of France, Germany, and Great Britain had negative perceptions of the US, irrespective of what those heads of state may say in public.

    And the last paragraph:

    “It’s an important point to keep in mind during a presidential race in which the topic will keep coming up and the suggestion made that easily misread poll results are decisive in the argument.”

    You damn right the point should be kept in mind, along with the disaster this president has heaped on this great nation, including:

    Illegal phone taping of Americans
    Cancellation of habeas corpus
    Trashing of constitutional rights
    Changing laws by signing statements
    Politicizing the justice system
    Tailoring intelligence reports to start a war

    And, the list goes on and on.

    I suggest that Mr. Ambrose find another subject to expound upon, because he certainly has no credibility on this one!

  3. JoyfulC  August 16, 2007 at 10:30 am

    Waiter! Whatever this guy is drinking, I’d like a double.

  4. Bill Robinson  August 16, 2007 at 11:13 am

    Leaders of other countries like George Bush because he is the first US President since Regan that is more stupid than they are. All laugh at him behind his back, as do most of us here on CHB.
    I have never seen anyone write into this site who hates America. I have seen nearly everyone who writes into this site express various degrees of contempt for Bush, even hatred.
    I am living abroad at this time, and I must tell you that in all my travels I have never met anyone who hates America. I have met many who question the Iraq war and Bush’s sanity. Noone I have met ever discusses the possibility that Bush/Cheney planned the 9/11 attacks. The scope and/or possibility of such a thing is beyond the limits of belief that foreigners have in America.
    Travelling in China, I never heard one angry word about Americans, but about 30% of those I met questioned the Iraq war, and maybe 60% expressed varying degrees of scorn, contempt, and even a little fear about Bush/Cheney.
    China is to be admired because it is a highly successful Communist Country–perhaps the first one to succeed economically. They don’t need to make war on the US, they will conquer us economically if they haven’t already. They own 900 Billion Dollars of our debt, and really could destroy us economically if they chose to do so. They would wince at the loss on the 900,000,000,000 but they would survive. We probably would fall into a depression that would outdo that of the 30s. The Chinese are in their government, Communists. But the reality is that they are really hard working, shrewd Capitalists cloaked in the Red Banner. They respect someone who will best them in a business deal. Their government’s ridicule for the USA is because of our failure to maintain our lofty position as a World Leader. This is tatally the responsibility and fault of the Bush Administration. Bush/Cheney were and are too busy stealing as much as they could cram into their bulging bank accounts to care about the welfare of America, and for that alone they should be fired. For their acts of treason they should be tried and hung.
    Last comment is on all the recalls in Chinese products. There is no forgiveness for toothpaste containing anti-freeze, or for contaminated foodstuffs, or for fake medicines. Those are bad business decisions and should be turned to bite the Chinese in the ass. Ban their products from America for 4 years as punishment, and see what they do to correct these acts. But when it comes to the toys, I do not believe any punitive measures should be taken. The Asian family is a strong unit. When it comes to their children, the kids are NOT left alone–they are not left unsupervised, and would not be allowed to chew on a painted toy, or to destroy a toy to the extent that they could remove a magnet that it contained. Chinese and other Asian people watch their children. They play with them, support them, care for them, and do not leave them alone. So the fact that a paint contains a harmful substance or that a toy contains magnets is not even worthy of consideration. The kids are not going to eat or swallow or ingest anything that the Chinese mother, father, grandparent, older sibling, aunt, uncle, neighbor does not want them to.
    Our society has become too litigious. Lawyers have caused us to be so careful that we are losing our humanity and concern for others. The American parent should take better care of their kid, and not rely on product safety to protect the children. Protection of your child is YOUR responsibility–don’t let some lawyer convince you otherwise.
    Bill Robinson

  5. allan hirsh  August 16, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    mr. hirsh:
    The comments following the Ambrose column are ten times better than the Ambrose column. What gives with Capital Hill Blue? Equal opportunities for lunaticals?
    Quote the refrain from Robert Browning’s “Pippa Passes” three times and see a vintage Disney cartoon.
    There, no conspiracies anymore. Isn’t that better? And
    the rest of the world admires Bush. Pippa thought so.

  6. marti oakley  August 16, 2007 at 7:32 pm

    Is this guy for real?

    This was such a convoluted twisting of information that I had to laugh….almost.

    I love these polls these people are constantly quoting. Of course, the source of the polls and who initiated them is never revealed or, if it is, and you are allowed to view the questions actually asked you find that these are worded specifically to illicit a specific response which usually bears no reflection on the truth.

    Not a unilateral war? Not without justification? For god’s sake…..we have been razing a country that even King George has had to admit had no part in 9/11. There was no irrational fear on Bush’s part…….just a bad case of totally irrational overall!

    And the “mistakes” are outweighed by the counter vailing good? Over 1 million Iraqi’s slaughtered for no other reason than they live atop some of the biggest oil reserves in the world. Nearly 4,000 of our military DEAD! 23,000 WOUNDED and even among the paid assasins like Blackwater, 1001 DEAD.

    WHERE IS THE PREVAILING GOOD IN THIS? YOU MORON!

    We have totally destroyed a country whose former but now hung by the neck dictator was our hand picked lackey. And for what? Because he wouldn’t let BP, Exxon/Mobil and Dutch Shell into the Iraqi oil business?

    I had hoped that “the Minsitry of Truth According to the Neo-Cons” had folded but I see it is alive and well in Ambrose!

    I believe Ambrose like Faux News gets his talking points and misleading information from the White House spin office…….which happens to be the home of The Minstry of Truth (as we want you to know it)

    What a load of absolute crap!

    Marti Oakley

  7. marti oakley  August 16, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    BTW: You noted statements by the heads of state of France and Germany….and claimed they are our allies?

    Aren’t these the same people you castigated and belittled for NOT supporting the attack on Iraq? Wasn’t it the Neo-cons who cited all that we had done for France and Germany and went on to call them cowards among other things for NOT becoming a part of the “Coalition of the Willing”? Now they are part of the coalition? GOOD! Especially now that the UK is pulling out, and Poland already has, and Australia is leaving along with Canada. What that means to us is about 5 less sets of boots on the ground.

    I have to give credit where credit is due…….most publishers like CHB are flexible enough to allow all sides of an issue to be presented..even if it comes from neo-con plants

    Marti Oakley

  8. SEAL  August 17, 2007 at 3:55 am

    I could never claim to be an “expert” about anything. I’m not sure anyone is an “expert.” But I have never met anyone with a greater variety of training and hands on experience with weapons, explosives, war, combat, and observation of the effects of bombings and collisions of all kinds than I have had over a dedicated 32 year career.

    I will never forget watching the planes hit those buildings. My wife and I were preparing to view a movie we had just bought and turned on the TV at just the right moment to see it as it was happening. The planes hit, exploded, the buildings were on fire and I was thinking of the problem those who could would have getting down and out of such tall buildings and the enormous task facing the fire fighters.

    Then, to my amazement, first one building dropped straight down into its own footprint and then the second did exactly the same thing. But even more amazing was a third building next to then that was burning but not hit by any plane did exactly the same. It just dropped stright down. I turned to my wife and said, “That was a controlled demolition!”

    Instantly, I knew there was no way in hell those buildings could have come down any other way. The impact of those planes and the resulting fire could not and did not cause the buildings internal support to perfectly collapse from the bottom up. If not for being deliberately brought down by expertly placed demolition charges they would still be standing. In bad shape. The damage may have been sufficient to make them unsafe enough to go ahead later and bring them down. It’s even possible that one or two might have “broke” at the point of impact sufficiently for the top portion to fall off onto other buildings below.

    I knew then and I know now that was three controlled demolitions. Nothing can change that “fact.” There is no way anyone with half a brain could observe those building drop and not understand that they could not have come down any other way. You don’t have to have all the background and experience I have to understand that. Seeing is believing. What you saw is what happened. You have seen buildings demolished by explosive charges before in person on TV. This was the same thing wasn’t it?

    This indisputable “fact” is what makes the whole affair suspect and establishes the conspiracy as much more than “theory.” In order for these buildings to be brought down this way means that it was known the planes would hit them. All that is left is to find out whether it was allowed to happen or whether the planes were flown into the building by our own government’s people. Either way, the guilt is the same and it must be determined who engineered it. If we do not do that, we are the most foolish nation on the planet. The fact that the people have allowed this to go unexposed and have accepted the idiotic explanation given is to reveal that we are doomed as a nation of helpless “subjects” to a corupt and dangerous group of criminals. Subjects who no longer bask in the freedom given them by some of the bravest and most intelligent, far sighted men of history. Men who must now be turning over in their graves in disgust at what has happened to their vision. Shame on all of you!

  9. Bill Robinson  August 17, 2007 at 11:53 am

    Seal, you need to see the video called “Loose Change”. It says exactly what you said about the way the WTC and the building next to it collapsed, and gives some really upsetting background as to why, how, and by whom this act of terror was really done.
    If it is true, and there are too many coincidences for it to be anything but true, then the real terrorists that attacked America that day in September of 2001 were George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Paul Wolfowicz, and Donald Rumsfeld. A conspiracy of dunces indeed, but effective dunces and most dangerous as well. You might ask yourself, with all your demolition experience, how no wings, engine, or fuselage was ever found at the Pentagon. I myself have never seen a crash scene of an airplane where those parts were totally absent.
    I love our country, and it tears me apart to think that the perpetrators of the attack are sitting in the White House and making billions of dollars from a war that they started at the cost of so many American lives. They are disgusting human beings and if there is a Hell, I am sure that they will end up there along with their compadres like Hitler and Caligula.

  10. pacplyer  August 17, 2007 at 9:56 am

    Talk about Pravda! (the mouthpeice of “the party”) What a delusional article. Most of the world hates the U.S. now, either because of big business abuses or because of military/big gov attocities (but now it’s practically all the same animal now: there’s no difference between gov and big business anymore.) The dogs of war and the fortune 500 have hijacked our once great government and destroyed the constitution in one term.

    The author of this article might as well use a smile for an umbrella on a rainy rainy day!

    The US government is a Frankenstien monster, that we’ve all lost control of. It’s cranking up wars all over the world. There’s a huge one going on now in the southern philippines with U.S. special forces and it’s not even on CNN! You guessed it: It’s another bush illegal war offically called “foreign training!” Translation: another concocted jihad were there wasn’t one before. A Christian purge of the islamic “terrorists” in the Sulu and Mindano islands. The reason? Massive Oil in the adjacent Spratley Islands.

    The Bush crime family is cleaning up again: selling arms to both sides and attempting to secure rights to oil reserves possibly greater than Saudi Arabia (nobody knows for sure since China has warships parked all over the place.)

    How come this isn’t news?

    Had enough yet?

    Impeachbush.org!

    pacplyer

  11. Dionysis  August 16, 2007 at 9:35 am

    ” polls showing something like a third of all Democrats believe President Bush knew about the 9/11 attacks before they happened.”

    A typical neo con shell game; make the suggestion that it’s only a bunch of loony Democrats who think the government was involved in 9/11. Don’t look behind the curtain, sheeple! In reality, those who do not believe the government’s illogical story are far more than a bunch of leftist Democrats. For example:

    “Senior Military, Intelligence, and Government
    Officials Question 9/11 Commission Report

    Alphabetized List Baer, Robert – Case Officer, 21 Years in CIA, Career Intelligence Medal Bowman, Col. Robert – Director of Advanced Space Programs Development under Ford and Carter Burks, Fred – State Department Interpreter for Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton Christison, William – Director of the CIA’s Office of Regional and Political Analysis Cleland, Senator Max – U.S. Senator from Georgia. Member of 9/11 Commission Cole, John – Intelligence Operations Specialist, 18 Years in FBI Conrad, David Mark – Professor of Criminal Justice, Agent in Charge, Internal Affairs, U.S. Customs Costello, Edward – Special Agent, Counterterrorism, FBI, Judge Dew, Rosemary – Supervisory Special Agent, Counterterrorism & Counterintelligence, FBI Dzakovic, Bogdan – Counterterrorism Expert, FAA, Federal Air Marshall, Witness for 9/11 Commission Edmonds, Sibel – Language Translation Specialist, FBI, Witness for 9/11 Commission Elson, Steve – Special Agent, FAA, 22 Years in Military, Navy Seal Fitts, Catherine Austin – Assistant Secretary of Housing under George H.W. Bush Freeh, Louis – Director of the FBI 1993-2001 Goodman, Melvin – Division Chief and Senior Analyst of Soviet Affairs, CIA Goulder, Morton – Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense under Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter Graf, Mark – Security Supervisor, Department of Energy Graham, Gilbert – Special Agent, Counterintelligence, 24 Years in FBI Heikal, Mohamed Hassanein – Foreign Minister, Egypt Hellyer, Paul – Minister of National Defense and Deputy Prime Minister, Canada Honegger, Barbara – White House Policy Analyst Under Ronald Reagan Ivashov, Gen. Leonid – Chief of Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Kleiman, Diane – Special Agent, U.S. Customs Kwiatkowski, Lt. Col. Karen – Political-Military Affairs Officer, Office of the Secretary of Defense Larkin, Lynne – Operations Officer, CIA MacMichael, David – Senior Estimates Officer, CIA, 10 Years in Marine Corps McGovern, Raymond – Chairman, National Intelligence Estimates, 27 Years in CIA Meacher, Michael – Undersecretary for Industry, Minister for the Environment, UK 1997-2003 Nelson, Col. George – Aircraft Crash Investigator, 34 Years in U.S. Air Force Pahle, Theodore J. – Senior Intelligence Officer, 37 Years in Defense Intelligence Agency Peck, Edward – Deputy Director of the White House Task Force on Terrorism under Ronald Reagan Ray, Col. Ronald – Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense under Ronald Reagan Reynolds, Morgan – Chief Economist, U.S. Department of Labor under George W. Bush Ritter, Maj. Scott – Marine Corps Intelligence Officer and Chief UN Weapons Inspector in Iraq Roberts, Paul Craig – Ass. Secretary of Treasury under Ronald Reagan, Father of Reaganomics Rokke, Maj. Douglas – Director U.S. Army Depleted Uranium Project Sarshar, Behrooz – Language Translation Specialist, FBI Shaffer, Lt. Col. Anthony – Defense Intelligence Agency, 23 Years in Military, Bronze Star Recipient Shayler, David – Counter-terrorism Officer, MI5 (UK Intelligence Service) Stubblebine, Gen. Albert – Commanding General, U.S. Army Intelligence, 32 Years in Military Sullivan, Brian – Special Agent, Risk Management Specialist, FAA, Lieutenant Colonel Military Police Tortorich, Larry – US Navy Commander, Department of Homeland Security Turner, Jane – Special Agent, FBI Vincent, John – Special Agent, Counterterrorism, FBI von Buelow, Andreas – State Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Defense, West Germany Weldon, Rep. Curt – Vice Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Whitehurst, Dr. Fred – Supervisory Special Agent, Forensic Examiner, FBI, U.S. Army Intelligence Wittenberg, Capt. Russ – Air Force Fighter Pilot, Commercial Jet Pilot for 35 Years Wright, Col. Ann – U.S. Army Colonel, 27 Years in Military, Diplomat Zeigler, Capt. Gregory – U.S. Army Intelligence Officer Zipoli, Matthew – Special Response Team Officer, Department of Energy

    Many respected senior members of the U.S. military, intelligence services, and government have expressed significant criticism of the 9/11 Commission Report. Some even allege government complicity in the terrible acts of 9/11. Below are the highly revealing public statements on this vital topic of over 50 prominent public servants with links for verification and further investigation.

    The collective voices of these respected senior officials along with over 100 esteemed professors give credibility to the claim that the 9/11 Commission Report is tragically flawed. These dedicated individuals from across the political spectrum cannot be simply dismissed as irresponsible believers in some 9/11 conspiracy theory. Their sincere concern, backed by decades of service to their country, demonstrate that criticism of the 9/11 Commission Report is not only reasonable and responsible, it is in fact a patriotic duty.”

    http://www.wanttoknow.info/officialsquestion911commissionreport

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