US Image Is Worsening Worldwide: Review

The image of the United States in the eyes of the people worldwide has been deteriorating in recent years. In the Middle East, anti-American sentiment is rising high; in Southeast Asia, anti-US marches are staged one after another; in the ROK and Japan, there have been frequent demonstrations against US soldiers' disgusting conducts. Even in its European allies, a "sentiment of alienation" from the old "Uncle Sam" has bred and grown among local people. In a recent demonstration in Denmark, on placards held up by people were written these words: "Bush, the biggest terrorist in the world!"

Over the past two years, the favorability ratings for the United States among the people in 20 out of 27 countries have fallen, according to the result of a survey conducted by the US-based Pew Research Center for the People & the Press between July and October. The problem has drawn attention from US policy-makers. US defense officials recently revealed that the Pentagon was discussing whether an "image project" should be kicked off in certain nations to reverse the negative view on the country.

America, like a double-faced person, is willful and haughty
Many experts told the reporter that most foreigners still like, or even admire, the cultural, political and economic ideas of the United States, but they dislike its foreign policy, nor do they submit themselves to the direction of a "bullying" overlord.

After traveling over 30 countries in the past 20-odd years and interviewing numerous ordinary people, American reporter Mark Hertsgaard made a profound analysis of the worldwide anti-US trends of thought in his newly published book "The Eagle's Shadow". He was once told by a South African taxi driver that South Africa was very much influenced by America and the local people liked very much American music and clothing and admired the American style of life: beautiful house, big car and lots of bank-notes. However, talking about underworld gangs in South African cities, the driver said that the gangs are divided into two kinds, one called "young Yankees" and the other "ugly Yankees", the former dress themselves up like Americans and the latter look like Americans when they shoot.

Many Chinese-Americans seem sharing the same feeling: America is like a double-faced person. On one side it is fine, but on the other side it is arrogant. Perhaps it is just the "fineness" that drove American arrogance to an uncontrollable extent.

Director of the East Asia Studies Institute under Columbia University divided the anti-American sentiment into three cases. First, Islamic countries and many poor developing countries resent the US foreign policy. The United States is not willing to extend generous help to poor countries as are European countries, it invariably integrates its so-called aid with its interests and objective of value. In the Middle East, the US policy is always eyed as partial to Israel. Second, its allies dissatisfied with the US way of handling things. Although US policies have support from most of its European allies, the American way of handling matters, however, is unacceptable to them because America is invariably too arrogant. Third, the anti-US sentiment comes from the ROK, Japan, Kuwait and other countries. Though they are beneficiaries, the people there have a fairly strong anti-US sentiment, this is mainly due to the social and legal problems caused by US troops stationed there. From the combination of the three cases, people can see a United States acting willfully and arrogantly.

Prejudice Affects American views on the world
A professor with Columbia University once told the reporter that the Americans always think themselves as the world "No.1", and "No.1" is meant by saying "Yes" or "No", so they care nothing about what others may think or feel. It is precisely because of this carefree attitude that has deepened others' indignation.

Prejudice is affecting the American view on the world, as well as deepening the world's resentment against America. Referring to anti-US sentiment, the US-based National Review magazine said in a recent article that "Who cares about how the Arabs look upon the United States? Don't forget that after the 'September 11' incident, many Arabs took to the street and celebrated". Author of the article forgot that it's not only Arabs who cherish the counter-US feelings, even most Europeans, their faithful allies, hold that the "September 11" event is connected with the US's foreign policy and its strike against Iraq is fight for oil. There are even people who compared the United States with the fascist Germany.

Perhaps only those Americans who frequently travel the world can feel that the image of their country is not as nice as they once imagined. According to the result of a survey conducted by National Geographic Society, only 18 percent Americans know the geographic location of Afghanistan, 87 percent Americans aged between 18 and 24 cannot find out Iraq on a world map, and it is most difficult to believe that one-fourth of the Americans do not know where the Pacific Ocean is. Such an attitude of the Americans toward the outside world constitutes an important reason why foreigners dislike the country. News Week once reported a strange phenomenon: each time the United States or another Western country suffers a terrorist attack, urban and rural citizens in Asia vented their indignation against the United States, instead of the terrorist organizations which should have been responsible for the attack.

Globalization doesn't mean Americanism
In his book, "Anti-Americanism", published in 1996, Professor Hollander argues that anti-Americanism is not like anti-Nazism, because emergence of the latter is fully grounded, but the United States is the "world most free, democratic, prosperous, generous, diversified and tolerant state". If a country, into which thousands upon thousands of people from all over the world rushed in a continuous stream, is being widely detested, then there must be enormous irrational elements in the trend of thoughts. Hollander recently indicated that anti-Americanism is in vogue because it meets people's need of venting their grumbles. It emerges against the background of some problems brought about by modernization, and modernization is represented by the United States. It seems, according to Professor Hollander, that the United States has been taken as a vent. But what he failed to make it clear is that the globalization represented and encouraged by the United States is not in the interests of all countries, nor is it a cure-all medicine. Not to mention that the United States has its selfish calculations on many issues.

The US has all along been seeking new enemies after the Cold War, and now it has finally found one: terrorist. Arias, Nobel peace laureate and former president of Costa Rica, said that terrorist attack is very dangerous, but this is not the only menace. The world is also plagued by illiteracy, the deterioration of environment, illness and hunger. It's a pity, these threats, instead of decreasing, have even increased. But the United States fails to shoulder the leader's responsibility to eliminate these menaces.

US seems to have fallen into abyss of anxiety
The United States has lost much in terms of its image on the Iraqi issue. If Bush hadn't been anxious to put forward the "pre-emptive strike" strategy and attack Iraq, said a politics professor with the Colgate University, he wouldn't have invited so strong aversion from across the world. Some traditional allies, in particular, feel very uncomfortable, they worry that many ideas and principles handed down from the 20th century for dealing with international problems are thus ruined.

As it wants to be the world leader, the United States should both enjoy rights and shoulder responsibilities, said HaoYufan, and as a leader, you cannot invariably force others to follow you by pointing your gun at them. The United States not only should have powerful military strength, but also be able to stand at a moral height, so that it has a strong appeal. That is the so-called "soft strength" put forward by some American scholars.

However, after the "September 11" incident, the country seemed to heave been plunged into an abyss of anxiety. Terrorist attacks, economic slowdown, shattered stock bubbles, the scandal of false enterprise accounts--all these have fully unveiled the ugliness of American-style capitalism. The United States is increasingly worried about its security and possible challenges. Such being the case, it puts stress on military strength and is busy seeking enemies all the time.

"The world should take the US as example"
In the eyes of some US decision-makers, the United States represents the interests of the world people as well as the best values and systems, therefore it should be taken as example by the whole world. The terrorists who strike the United States are setting themselves against the world. While analyzing NATO's future development trends, some German media once pointed out, now the United States wants to turn NATO into a military organization fighting terrorists and "rogue countries", which will rush to wherever there are enemies as the United States claims. Then does NATO remain as it was before? Is it practicable for an organization based on common defense to make a sudden turn without regard for wishes of the people of its member countries?

One year has passed since the "September 11" event, and people see that the United States has been trying to turn its strategic goal into that of its allies, even that of the whole world. Some American experts even said the anti-terrorism war would possibly last a century. Can people have no worry if the anti-terrorism war really becomes a strategic means for America to push its own concept of values and American-style democracy?

By PD Online Staff Member Li Heng

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