Why, anyway, should America care if a bunch of foreigners dislike it, or affect to? Maybe, as a military and economic power without rival, it should not be too worried. Yet America needs the co-operation of other governments if it is to conduct trade, combat drugs, reduce pollution and fight terrorism. Moreover, Mr Bush is now committed to spreading “freedom” across the Middle East, indeed across the world. If foreigners, disillusioned with America, believe this is merely a hypocritical justification for getting rid of regimes he dislikes, the task may be harder. It is striking that Mr Bush’s 49 mentions of liberty or freedom in his inaugural address last month do not seem to have struck the sort of chord round the world that Jack Kennedy’s quixotic commitments did in the 1960s.There is a measure of dislike of George Bush, and what he stands for, in the anti-American sentiment, but the problems may be more serious long term:
That may reflect the greater cynicism of the worldwide audience 40 years on. But the polls suggest it also has something to do with Mr Bush. Last month’s BBC poll found that opposition to Mr Bush was stronger than anti-Americanism in general, and that the particular had contributed to the general. Asked how Mr Bush’s election had affected their views of the American people, 42% said it had made them feel worse towards Americans.
That is the, perhaps short-term, view of some non-Americans. It is accompanied by another view, increasingly common among pundits, which holds that America is losing its allure as a model society. Whereas much of the rest of the world once looked to the United States as a beacon, it is argued, non-Americans are now turning away. Democrats in Europe and elsewhere who once thought religiosity, a belief in capital punishment and rank hostility to the United Nations were intermittent or diminishing features of the United States now see them as rising and perhaps permanent. Such feelings have been fortified by Mr Bush’s doctrine of preventive war, Guantánamo, opposition to the world criminal court and a host of other international agreements. One way or another, it is said, people are turning off America, not so much to hate it as to look for other examples to follow—even Europe’s. If true, that could be even more insulting to Americans than the rise in the familiar anti-Americanism of yesteryear.