Ming the Mechanic:
European perceptions of the U.S.

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 European perceptions of the U.S.2002-08-24 01:35
1 comment
pictureby Flemming Funch

Below are a couple of article excerpts about European's perceptions of the U.S. which had been circulating and creating some debate.

Now, I'm rather fascinated by and mystified by the different group mindsets that exist in different places. Actually quite different worlds people live in.

Just having come back to the U.S. from a month in my country of birth, Denmark, I notice easily how mindsets are different in many ways. For example, yes, most Europeans would appear to look very critically at USA's blatant imperialism and arrogance on the world scene. And I would agree with them.

But now, when I go back to the U.S. there's kind of a fog that descends over me again, and the rest of the world again start looking like just some remote entertainment on TV. There's some kind of national brainwashing wave or something. OK, most of my friends here would be just as critical about US policies. But it is a minority position here, rather than a common sense that most people have. And much here in the U.S. that I would consider completely insane if I saw it from another country, I would here accept as fairly routine and normal.

I'm feeling uneasy about living in the U.S. at this point. I'll probably forget about it if I watch some more commercials on TV.

german news:
Many Germans blame Bush for floods 14 August 2002

HAMBURG - As thousands flee flooding in Central Europe, many people in Germany are convinced they know where to put blame for the catastrophe - on President George W. Bush's refusal to sign the Kyoto climate accords.

As floodwaters crested on the Danube and on the Elbe at Dresden, German news commentators and editorial pages Wednesday focussed on global warming as the direct cause of the worst flooding this country has seen in decades.

"Monsoon rains are sending our rivers over their bands as meanwhile the Alpine glaciers are receding at an alarming rate and it is all due to global warming and the failure of the Kyoto accords due to Bush's refusal to sign," an RTL television news reporter told his viewers against the backdrop of swirling flood waters.

"The floods have washed away all doubts by the sceptics," the nation's biggest newspaper trumpeted in an editorial Wednesday.

"Germany in August 2002 finds us asking ourselves: Are our factories churning too many pollutants into the air? Are we too complacent about the environment? Do we perhaps need speed limits on the autobahns after all?"

Global warmth for U.S. after 9/11 turns to frost Wed Aug 14, 8:33 AM ET Ellen Hale USA TODAY

OXFORD, England -- On a packed train out of London recently to this historic college town, a young American woman struck up a conversation with her seatmate, a nattily dressed older British man. They chatted amiably about Oxford until she worked up the courage to ask what was weighing on her mind:

''Why,'' she blurted out, ''does everybody hate us?''

The man paused -- but didn't disagree -- before proceeding to enumerate the reasons, from U.S. foreign policies to the seeping influence of American popular culture.

In the shock wave that followed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, many Americans found themselves asking why so many people in Muslim countries hate the United States. But the anti-American sentiment has turned into a contagion that is spreading across the globe and infecting even the United States' most important allies.

In virulent prose, newspapers criticize the United States. Politicians ferociously attack its foreign policies, especially the Bush administration's plans to attack Iraq. And regular citizens launch into tirades with American friends and visitors.

Here in Britain, the United States' staunchest friend, snide remarks and downright animosity greet many Americans these days. It's not just religious radicals and terrorists who resent the United States anymore.

''Now, it's everyone,'' says Allyson Stewart-Allen, a consultant from California who has lived in London 15 years and heads International Marketing Partners, which advises European companies on how to do business with Americans. ...

What happened, many Americans are wondering, to that wave of sympathy and stockpile of global goodwill they encountered after Sept. 11?

''It was squandered,'' says Meghnad Desai, director of the Institute for Global Governance at the London School of Economics and Political Science and a member of the House of Lords.

''America dissipated the goodwill out of its arrogance and incompetence. A lot of people who would never ever have considered themselves anti-American are now very distressed with the United States,'' he says.

Desai and others blame what seems to be a wave of new U.S. policies that they regard as selfish and unilateral, stretching back to President Bush ( news - web sites)'s refusal last year to support the international treaty on global warming ( news - web sites).

Many are enraged by Bush's support for steel tariffs and farm subsidies, his refusal to involve the United States in the new international criminal court and what is widely regarded abroad as one-sided support for Israel and its prime minister, Ariel Sharon ( news - web sites).

The rash of corporate malfeasance and blanket arrest of terrorism suspects after Sept. 11 further fuels critics, who say the United States preaches democracy, human rights and free enterprise -- but doesn't practice them.

In a recent article in Policy Review magazine, Robert Kagan, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, says the divide between the United States and Europe is getting wider than ever as the continents go their different ways -- one operating on a foreign policy based on unilateralism and coercion, the other on diplomacy and persuasion.

Europeans, he says, have ''come to view the United States simply as a rogue colossus, in many respects a bigger threat to (their) pacific ideals than Iraq or Iran.''

The differences, he says, are deep and likely to endure.

''Why do people attack Americans?'' asks Tiny Waslandek, a social worker in Amsterdam, Netherlands. ''Because they have a big, big mouth and they mind everybody's business.''

Bush's plan to topple Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein ( news - web sites) is stoking anti-American hostility to bonfire levels. In Germany earlier this month, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder launched his re-election campaign by denouncing what he derisively called Bush's proposed military ''adventures'' in Iraq. In England, the new head of the Anglican Church and other leading bishops circulated a petition proclaiming that any attack would be illegal and immoral. ... In recent months, polls have shown a less-than subtle change in attitudes toward Americans, U.S. foreign policy and, in particular, the president from Texas. British newspapers reported Thursday that secret polls commissioned by Prime Minister Tony Blair ( news - web sites) revealed ''spectacular unpopularity'' for Bush among voters here.

In April, the German news magazine Der Spiegel reported that less than half (48%) of Germans consider the United States a guarantor of peace in the world, compared with 62% who did in 1993. Nearly half -- 47% -- rated Americans as aggressive rather than peaceful (34%). And 44% called them superficial.

Meanwhile, in an April poll for the Council on Foreign Relations, based in Washington, Europeans proved highly critical of Bush and what they label his unilateral approach to foreign policy: 85% of Germans, 80% of French, 73% of Britons and 68% of Italians said they believed that the United States is acting in its own interest in the war on terrorism. ... That the United States is suffering an image problem abroad has become obvious at home. Two weeks ago, the White House announced it would create a permanent Office of Global Communications to enhance America's image around the world. At the same time, the House of Representatives approved spending $225 million on cultural and information programs abroad, mostly targeting Muslim countries, to correct what Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., called a ''cacophony of hate and misinformation'' about the United States. .... The consequences of neglecting such public diplomacy are ''ominous,'' warns Peter Peterson, chairman of the council and of The Blackstone Group, a New York private investment bank. He says bin Laden has ''gleefully exploited'' the United States' poor public image.

''Around the world, from Western Europe to the Far East, many see the United States as arrogant, hypocritical, self-absorbed, self-indulgent and contemptuous of others,'' Peterson says. ' ...

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1 comment

24 Aug 2002 @ 02:18 by scottj : You just proved just how
powerful TV is. In Europe there are another set of denials thats all, also TV induced. Here in Norway there is an utterly mystifying -- to common sense -- denial of anything critical of materialism and a steadfast refusal to confront the Kafka like State Machine. There is no "Perception" people just go shopping instead.

Without wishing to appear like a New Civilisation Fundamentalist I have to say that I do not believe it is possible to approach any kind of intellectual / spiritual or emotional freedom if you watch TV. The effects are utterly insidious to the extent that the individual is unaware of the effect. TV alters how you think, it influences what you think about, it alters how you feel and how you react to what happens in your life. No-one is immune. Why bother with any kind of "personal work" if you have a TV? It is a complete waste of time and money as any benefit is negated within minutes just as soon as the Idiot's Lantern sparks up and that nice lady on CNN starts incanting her Daily Drivel -- its in the subtext. As usual the answer to the "problem" is simple, and with a negative cost. GET RID OF YOUR TV. Then you will remove by far the biggest Americanising (read lobotomising) influence in your life.




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