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THEIR AMERICA: The US in the Eyes of the Rest of the World / Vol. 72, No. 4 (Winter 2005)

Arien Mack, Editor

The immediate motivation for “Their America” was the sharp increase in anti-American feelings across the globe in the aftermath of 9/11. However, this did not occur in the immediate aftermath, when there were strong expressions of sympathy from almost everywhere, but only later, when our aggressive and virtually unilateral response to the attack was made clear. The conference at The New School, Their America: The US in the Eyes of the Rest of the World, was convened to try to place this phenomenon in the context of a longer history of attitudes toward the United States as a way of best understanding the current situation.


The impetus for the conference stemmed from a recognition that the election’s outcome would be almost as crucial for the nonvoting 6 billion people outside America’s borders as for the roughly 290 million people within them. Thought the focus of the discussion was not the election itself, the New School had in a sense given a dozen or so of the billions a chance to vote.

The article considers the general public attitude in Great Britain towards the US There are three main factors that have shaped the British attitude towards the US. First, was the growing power and dominance of the US in the world. Second, was the need for Great Britain to stay close to the US to maintain its international influence and third, the willingness of the US to stay close to Great Britain through its multilateral policies in Europe. However, this positive attitude of Great Britain towards the US has been challenged by several factors such as the US shift toward unilateralism and the country's policy towards Iraq.

The article considers the political and military supremacy of the US in the world and the importance for Europe to align its foreign policy alongside the US. With the rising power and supremacy of the US, comes a new concept of anti-Americanism. The US, specifically the administration of President George W. Bush has generated different public opinions around the world. Some viewed the US with hostility, and some viewed the country with appreciation and admiration. The US is the leader in terms of military strength. No other nation will be able to compete with the country's military-technological lead for the next several decades. The country has established a unipolar presence of hegemony.


This collection of papers is an attempt to look squarely at the recently growing phenomenon of intense anti-American sentiment. The papers in part I take us up close to the relatively new images and debates on the United States as they have now emerged in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the new postcommunist members of the European Union, who are also known collectively as East Central Europe.

The relationship between South Africa (as represented by the majority of South Africans) and the United States has a complex history.' The reaction in the United States to racial oppression and racial discrimination, and the manner in which it shaped the foreign policy of the United States with respect to Africa and South Africa in particular, reflects a long-standing ambivalence about the promotion of and compliance with international human rights principles. The United States has been an active supporter of the codification of international human rights norms and draws from a strong American ethos based on democracy and rights protection.

The article describes the general public attitude in Israel towards the US Israelis have, for several years, viewed the US with ambivalence. However, Israelis have become so involved with life in the US that they feel that the US president affects their personal lives far more directly than he affects the lives of his people. Moreover, they have become less ambivalent towards the US. The ambivalent attitude that Jews in Palestine and in Israel have had toward the US has been a result of the success of the Jewish community in the US. Some Israelis viewed the US as a threat to the hegemony of the Jewish settlement in their country.

In Western democracies, the public expresses its views in open elections and through frequent opinion polling. In Egypt, articulating a point of view on any important matter is tricky for two reasons: the absence of democracy and a sociocultural taboo on polling queries. Gauging Egyptian opinion of America is an example of one of these important matters, where proxies of public opinion are used instead. These proxies include articles, editorials, and cartoons in printed media; commentaries on radio and television; public lectures, seminars, and debates (whenever allowed); widespread acerbic oral political jokes; movies, television soap operas, and songs; stage plays; university functions etc.


The article examines Russia as a place that someone would be hard to find another country in the Northern Hemisphere where people are so convinced of America’s omnipotence. The majority of Russian citizens and a large part of its elite suspect that the United States is behind everything taking place in the world, especially as insofar as it concerns Russia.

The article examines the relations between the US and Muslim countries. Relations between the US and some Muslim countries have been characterized by animosity and hostility. The US imperial arrogance and the Islamic religious fanaticism have destroyed every hope that the US and Muslim countries could live harmoniously. The September 11 terrorist attacks in the US have worsened the relation that the country has with Muslim countries. The US has associated terrorism to Islam. In the near future, the relationship between the US and Muslims will likely continue its downward descent.

The article analyzes the relationship between the US and Southeast Asian countries. The US has had a long and complex relationship with countries in Southeast Asia. Its interaction with the region was confined largely to the Philippines, which has had the longest ties with the US since its colonization by the US at the end of the nineteenth century. From 1945-1975, the US relation with Southeast Asia has been characterized with the US attempt to curb the rise of communism in some parts of the region. From 1975-1997, the country has established a close relation with most countries in the region.

The article examines the relationship between the US and Africa. Relations between the two geographic zones have undergone many changes over the last century. The slave trade and the Cold War have characterized the relationship between the US and Africa. The two geographic zones have come to be associated in terms of their black populations and their political and military connections during the Cold War. The US-Africa relations are ongoing. The two regions have had their moments of conflict and moments of reconciliation.

The article chronicles the changes in the Chinese public attitude towards the US. Exotic, menacing, open, energetic, independent, modern and rich have been used to describe Chinese perceptions of the US. The US. is seen as the benign imperialist that forgave loans, sent aid and built missionary schools. Chinese officials, intellectuals and ordinary citizens have looked up to the US. with admiration. In the distant past, the country has been seen as the land of possibilities and fulfillment. Some authors have claimed that the Chinese view of the US reflect the need to reaffirm the Chinese identity. Relations between the two countries have undergone many changes as the years pass.


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