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April 29, 2005

From Keohane and Katzenstein: “Anti-Americanisms, not Anti-Americanism” *

Contribution from Peter J. Katzenstein , Walter S. Carpenter, Jr. Professor of International Studies, Cornell University and Robert O. Keohane, Professor of International Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University. In this letter, Katzenstein and Keohane answer the following question posed by WorldAndUS:

How can "Anti-Americanism" best be defined, operationalized, and used as a tool for analysis?

We have been working at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California, during this academic year on the topic of "anti-Americanism." Together with a group of scholars from various social science disciplines, we are completing a joint book on "the politics of Anti-Americanism," to be published in 2006. This book explores public opinion poll data on opinions toward the United States; examines Americanism in the United States and anti-Americanism in China, France, and the Middle East; and views anti-Americanism from the perspectives also of anthropology and social movement theory.

One of our major conclusions is that "anti-Americanism" serves as a label for several quite distinct phenomena, with different sources and implications for policy. We distinguish six sets of views, all of which might lead to "unfavorable" ratings of the United States in public opinion polls, and which therefore might well be coded as "anti-American":

1) Liberal Anti-Americanism. Liberals may share the values of "the American creed" but criticize the United States for not living up to these values. Whether these views should be called "Anti-American" at all is questionable.

2) Welfarist Anti-Americans. People in this category may be very critical of the United States for its lack of a highly protective welfare state, and for such policies as the death penalty. But on other dimensions -- for example, support for democracy and opposition to terrorism -- they may be quite pro-American.

3) Sovereign-Nationalist Anti-Americanism. Nationalists in a variety of countries are likely to resent the United States when it appears to threaten their sovereignty or other interests, but not to have strong negative views toward the United States at other times.

4) Radical Anti-Americanism. Marxist-Leninists (of which only relatively few remain) and radical Islamists have in common rejection of what they view as dominant American values and a desire to weaken the United States as an actor in world politics.

5) Cultural Elitist Anti-Americanism. In France and to some extent elsewhere, intellectuals have for many decades, or even centuries, rejected the United States as culturally dominated by commercialism and crude popular tastes.

6) Legacy Anti-Americanism. Legacy anti-Americanism stems from resentment of past wrongs done by the United States to another society. For instance, Mexicans still resent past military interventions by the United States and American seizure in the 19th century of large amounts of Mexican territory.

Whatever the merits of this particular typology, the general point should be clear. Anti-Americanism is an heterogeneous phenomenon. It has highly diverse roots. It should be expected, therefore, that different American practices and policies would stimulate different types of anti-Americanism, and that people holding different types of anti-American views would do so with different intensity. Liberal anti-Americans (if they can even be called "anti-American") are unlikely to engage in suicide bombing, while radical anti-Americans may under certain circumstances do so. Detailed analysis of anti-Americanism, as in our forthcoming book, will only be valuable if it begins from an understanding of anti-Americanism as heterogeneous.

* Copyright by Peter J. Katzenstein and Robert O. Keohane. Text: 492 words.

Posted 02:59 PM | Comments (0)

Dutch Foreign Minister Blunt on Bolton Nomination

Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot “does not quite understand” why newborn multilateralist George Bush picked John Bolton as his man at the UN. Minister Bot recently described Bolton as being ‘anti-UN’ and thought his nomination was at least ‘peculiar’ if not worse, reports the Dutch Elsevier Magazine on April 11th.

Bolton 4.jpg

Certainly this is not the harshest criticism Bolton has had to face in the past few weeks, especially since he has been grilled by the United States Senate during his confirmation hearing. But what makes the statements of Minister Bot remarkable is that the Dutch government has for a long time been a staunch supporter of the Bush Administration on many important issues, such as the war in Iraq. The Dutch however always believed that in the end Bush would choose, or be forced to choose, multilateral solutions to international problems. That was what they were promised by Bush himself. But now, at the beginning of Bush’s second term in office, that promise seems about to be broken. Not only has Bolton always been very sceptical towards the UN, he has also been a fierce opponent of the International Criminal Court of which The Netherlands are the proud hosts. Minister Bot must fear that with Bolton at the UN, the ICC might once again come under heavy pressure.

Bot’s uncharacteristic bluntness regarding Bolton may not have much influence on Bolton’s nomination process, but the small rift in Dutch-US relations comes at a very awkward time. On the 7th and the 8th of May, President Bush will visit The Netherlands in order to attend a commemoration service at a cemetery for American casualties of the Second World War. The Dutch public is not very fond of Bush as it is, and with the added official criticism of his choice for the UN, Bush may find The Netherlands a very inhospitable country indeed.

Posted 10:05 AM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2005

"Argentina's No. 1 Enemy"

By Peter Orsi

Imagine that you owe $20 to a man named Kenneth Dart. Dart has a highly successful pedigree; his father started a thriving container manufacturing business in Michigan currently worth $2 billion to $6 billion, with annual revenues of $464 million. But Dart made most of his fortune speculating in the financial markets. He presently resides in the Cayman Islands -- he moved there several years ago, reportedly to avoid paying taxes in his home country. Few people on the island have seen him in the last few years. When he's not on his multimillion-dollar yacht equipped with armor and an anti-missile system, he lives in a sprawling beachfront mansion, protected by armed guards. You, meanwhile, lost your job four years ago when your country fell into financial chaos. Your savings lost two-thirds of their value overnight, and your entire country is struggling to recover from financial ruin.

You might not feel like paying sending that $20 bill to the Caymans.

Now imagine that everyone on your block, everyone in your city, everyone in your country of some 40 million people (roughly equal to the population of California) owes $20 each to Kenneth Dart. This is the reality on the ground in Argentina today.

In Spring 2004 I covered a Buenos Aires protest against on the one-year anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The demonstration was just as big and noisy as the similar protests around the world that day. But mixed in with the antiwar signs and chants was a great deal of anger at what is perceived as U.S. complicity in Argentina's financial woes. Dart, Argentina's largest private creditor -- he's seeking to collect some $725 million from the country, plus four years of interest, about $130,000 a month -- is perhaps the poster child for this anger.

Argentina's leading newspaper, Clarín, is running a special on Kenneth Dart, whose case against the Argentine government was heard yesterday by an appellate court in New York. "The fortune and prosperity of millions of Argentines is these days in the hands of Kenneth Dart," says the multimedia presentation. If you can read Spanish, it's worth checking out in its entirety – especially since there's not much about the case in the U.S. press. To understand Dart's story is to understand why many Argentines feel that some of the richest people in the world's wealthiest country have taken their entire nation for a ride.

More parts of the Dart package:
* "The enigmatic holder of the vulture fund who hides out on the Grand Cayman"
* "The secret history of the lawsuit Dart initiated in the United States"
* "The intriguing business of the firm Dart founded in Pilar, Argentina"

Further Reading:
* Despair in Once-Proud Argentina (Washington Post, from 2002; good background piece on Argentina's financial collapse).
* Argentina Fends Off Vultures (AmericanFreePress.net; describes how Argentina is working to emerge from debt; some info about Dart and other "vulture fund" creditors).

Posted 02:07 PM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2005

English: Language for Detouring the United States

{Ana Alfaro is a regular contributor to La Prensa, the premier newspaper in Panama, and writes the Lingua column for the paper's Sunday magazine, MOSAICO.}

The March 7, 2005 edition of Newsweek International ran a story about the English language which stated that three fourths of the English speakers of the world are not native speakers. That is, they are not British, Canadian, Irish, U.S. or Australian citizens. And that eighty percent of the electronically stored information is in English, and sixty six percent of the world's scientists read in it. ESL-UnivAdelaide.jpg

English is no longer one of, but THE most important workskill for the global Agora--just as Latin was in the heyday of the Roman empire.

What happened to the Roman Empire? It was too large, too unwieldly, and finally, had frontiers that were too porous. The conquered peoples wished to become citizens, and they simply marched into--and out of--the Empire on those very fine roads built by the Romans themselves.

Nowadays, the road is English, and the information superhighway knows no frontiers. Like Rome in its final century, the roads that all once led there are now spinning off into a thousand new tributaries. And those roads are paved with English-language textbooks and dictionaries.

Dorothy from Des Moines has absolutely no idea that the voice confirming her air travel reservations is that of a twenty-three year old in Panama City, Panama. And the English she has mastered is also a tool she can use to contact her peers in all the corners of the new empire--where English is the master key to all gateways.

A couple of centuries ago, the British Empire began laying down the groundwork for the current world domination of English, which was picked up and carried forward by the United States. English was the export vessel for U.S. technology and pop culture. The rest of the world wants some of that dollar bounty: The Chinese (and Japanese) traditional pictogram for the United States is the same used for “rice;" whoever has plenty of rice, has plenty, period.

But now the Internet, the headless monster created for defense purposes, has made it possible for the rest of the world to become connected--and makes it possible to bypass the U.S. altogether. When China buys beef from Argentina, when Mexico buys airplanes from France, the common denominator is always English. English has, in effect, allowed the rest of the world to bypass the United States and create new strategic alliances, new trade pathways, which herald the end of the world as we know it, dominated by the Northern hemisphere and by the Caucasian English-speaking elite.

Add to that the diminishing popularity of the current U.S. administration in other countries, more and more of whom are reporting mistreatment at the hands of U.S. immigration authorities. In 2003, the heir to the Spanish crown, Prince Felipe and his then fiancée, journalist Letizia Ortiz, were detained by a U.S. Immigration agent in Miami, and held for interrogation for several hours. The incident was not given much press coverage in the United States, but soon thereafter, Iberia, the national airline of Spain, moved its Miami hub to Costa Rica. The general feeling is that the U.S. behaves as if the rest of the world's inhabitants are second class citizens.

Let the U.S. not forget that no man is an island. Neither can a country live in isolation, and the U.S. and its citizens make precious little effort to learn the languages of the rest of the world. Now the Global Village is learning theirs, and leaving them out of the equation. Rejection is a two way street.

Posted 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2005

The Flattening of the World

"Thirty-five years ago, if you had a choice of being born a B+ student in Indianapolis or a genius in India, you’d rather be a B+ student in Indianapolis because you’d have a more comfortable life," said Pulitzer-prize winning author and New York Times columnits Thomas Friedman. He appeared on CNN Headline News to talk about his new book, "The World is Flat," about the globalization of economies, knowledge and information, and technology.

But attaining a comfortable life is harder in recent years, he said: "When the world goes flat, and that genius born in India can now plug and play and compete and collaborate as though they were next door. Being a B+ student in Indianapolis won’t quite cut it anymore." He said with the outsourcing of jobs, those in India "can still sit at home wearing saris and eating curry" while participating in the global market and effectively outdoing the average American worker.

Friedman said that technology and the internet have created a global platform, and stepping onto that platform over the past few years are the other world powers: Russia, China and India. The "flattening" of the world happened so fast that it took even him by surprise, he said. Over the past few years, in the shadow of the dot-com bust and 9/11 and the US wars on abstract concepts like terror, the world has flattened and become fiberoptically-connected network.

India's participation in particular has had an effect on outsourcing of American jobs abroad, but Friedman sees both sides:

Let’s look at the upside first of all. The fact is that the US is the largest recipient of outsourcing in the world. However the stuff that other countries outsource to us are not the small-end jobs. It’s things like advertising, accounting, design work. Go up and down the west coast, you’ll see huge service centers that are really the magnets for outsourcing all over the world. These are high-end jobs. If we put up walls to that, we suffer.

The bad part is if you are on the other end of the spectrum, your job is at risk of being outsourced.

The competition from other countries with the world's leading superpower, the U.S., could be bad news for the U.S. He mentions a quote from Bill Gates:

We had a remarkable thing happen about a month ago. Bill gates, the countries leading modern age industrialist, stood before the 50 governors and said American high school education is obsolete. He said our country is not producing the kind of engineers and scientists that are necessary to compete in the world.

To that, he added:

Parents used to tell him finish your dinner, people in inidia and china are starving. What I say to my girls is finish your homework, people in India and china are starving for your job.

On questions of how much this is a threat to the United States, he said that in the same way information and knowledge are made accessible and easily transferrable, terrorists and insurgents now have an easy recruiting tool. With television and the internet bringing humiliation to those defeated in wars and battles at 56k all over the world, potential defeat of insurgents in Iraq could serve as a recruiting tool for sympathetic Osama followers, for example, he said.

Friedman ends by saying he is optimistic that "connecting the knowledge pools" of the world will yield more good than evil.

Posted 12:51 PM | Comments (1)

April 22, 2005

Impressions from the field

By Najla Benmbarek

The conference "Democracy and global Islam" organized by a group of institutions at UC Berkeley drew a number of speakers, among which, Nadia Yassine, the spokesperson of Islamist movement Al Adl Wal Ihsane (Justice and Charity) from Morocco. Yassine, who describes herself as somebody who "works in the field" says that many factors are responsible for the anti-American feelings in the Arab world. "The double-standard policy of the U.S. towards Israel is condemned by the population of Arab countries who see the Palestinian suffer from occupation. Globalization created an ocean of exclusion and the mass-media creates frustration among the youth who watches all day long programs showing the "West" and its "marvels".
For Yassine, the Gulf war increased the hatred among illiterate people who just see civilians being killed and homes destroyed. For Ali Ferdowski, the chair department of History and Political Science at Notre Dame de Namur, "Arabs' sympathy for other Arabs who suffer is natural. It's a matter of history and memory".
Speakers at the conference talked about elements encouraging radicalism but also suggested education as one of the most effective ways to counter fight extremism.
"The best way to exacerbate anti-American feelings is the "Nescafe democracy" imported and quickly made, says Nadia Yassine, who adds that the democratization of Arab countries along with a better-thought U.S. foreign policy could change a lot...

Posted 10:06 PM | Comments (0)

The UN resolution on Darfur

When, on 31 March 2005, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1593 (2005) referring the situation in Darfur to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the United States (US) voted for the resolution by abstention.

After all, had the US taken its principled stance on the ICC, it could have vetoed the UN resolution sponsored by France. But the US decided to abstain, thus allowing the referral to the ICC of a situation that the Bush administration had no hesitation at labelling “genocide”.

In Africa, as elsewhere around the world, the US government has taken steps to ensure that the ICC does not exercise its jurisdiction over its citizens.

Strategies to include this objective go from : the enactment of legislation restricting cooperation with the ICC and with States that are parties to the ICC to the adoption of Security Council resolutions preventing the ICC from exercising jurisdiction over nationals of non-parties that are involved in UN authorised operation.

Given this background, the vote of the resolution on Darfur in the UN Security Council is seen by many as a compromise. Others have celebrated the resolution as a diplomatic success for Europe . Still, US officials have claimed a precedent-setting victory.

Washington was able to win language saying that nations not party to the court would be exempt from prosecution over Sudan. But to secure a US abstention, supporters of the ICC option had to offer a broad exemption from prosecution for nationals of states that are not party to the Statute.

The Sudanese government has furiously rejected the resolution claiming that it “contradicts justice and objectivity and violates national sovereignty”, according to International Justice Tribune. President Omar al-Beshir of Sudan claimed that the UN has “ignored all norms of international legitimacy by exempting Americans…just because America is powerful…”, as reported in The Australian. This is hardly surprising.

Needless to say, there is widespread displeasure with language that the US insisted should be inserted in the resolution. Indeed, the question may be raised: are some peacekeepers better than others? The complaints of the government of Sudan – which calls upon the rule of law when it suits its interests - can only attract limited sympathy.

For what it is worth, though, this attitude suggests that ignorance of international law is not the problem in Sudan.

It is an irony of history that the US administration’s campaign against the ICC has helped raising public awareness of the Court and, in fact, bolstered the Court’s legitimacy.

Whatever the success or failure of the diplomatic efforts in New York, the ICC, armed with a ‘compromised’ mandate from the Security Council, will have a hard time at convincing the government of Sudan to cooperate.
By using threats, intimidation, and tremendous economic pressure to defend its policy on the ICC, the US administration has alienated many friends.

Posted 05:10 AM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2005

Wanted: an opposition party

Something to keep in mind about America and the world is the absence of a U.S. opposition party. The Democratic Party has effectively ceased to exist. Why does this matter? Because the “America” that is arousing most of the globe’s anti-Americanism is, basically, not the country itself; it’s the Republican Party.

In other words, the old notion that the United States’ two big parties don’t really differ from each other is wrong. The no-real-difference thesis is an old Left idea which in the theoretical sense is true – both parties are pro-capitalist – but in the real world of people and legislation and practical ideas is false. Putting the matter simply, the Democratic Party invented the New Deal, and now the Republicans are destroying it. We can call that a distinction with a difference.

Granted, in foreign policy the differences between Republicans and Democrats were a little blurrier – until George W. Bush came on the scene. His combination of belligerence and ignorance is a new formula. It could only have come from his party, whose culture provided the key ingredients of militarism and a contempt for the rest of the world.

So, where are the Democrats? They’ve disappeared into their various factions. Don’t look to them for any ideas that reach across the various Democratic constituencies, much less that appeal to the nation as a whole.

Mickey Kaus, Slate Magazine’s own blogger, states the case brutally but effectively. Yes, he’s hostile to immigrants and to unions, but he sees the big picture clearly. The devolution of the Democratic Party explains why the only Democrat since Franklin D. Roosevelt (who died 60 years ago, remember) to win more than one term in office was Bill Clinton, whose political talents put him in a category all his own.

Kaus is not the only one to notice the Democratic collapse. The so-called “national security Democrats” who have formed the Truman Project have drawn more or less the same conclusion, though they don’t phrase it that way.

I suspect that their solution, which is a Marshall Plan-style combination of force and benevolence, won’t appeal to many of those who blog here. They should consider the alternative, which is what we’re experiencing.

Peter Beinart, editor of The New Republic, who’s in the Truman Project circle, wrote a piece a couple of months ago that served as a rallying cry for Democratic internationalists. It was, of course attacked in The Nation magazine, a journal that specializes in reinforcing the political self-esteem of its readers rather than challenging them (The Weekly Standard, the neocon weekly, is even worse in this regard, not that that’s an excuse).

Personally, the Truman Project/New Republic notion of muscular liberalism doesn’t get my motor running. But that’s not the point. Yes, political parties need to excite some enthusiasm, but ideas come first. American voters found the Democrats lacking when it came to ideas about national security. And so, with Bush having dragged the country into a counterinsurgency war with no end in sight, and whose original rationale had collapsed, Americans voted for him anyway. If a coherent opposition party had existed, he might have lost and the perception of the U.S. in the world would have been much different.

Posted 05:32 PM | Comments (0)

April 18, 2005

Ronald McDonald Murdered on McBirthday !

By Pierre Langlais

RonaldMcDOnald.jpg As Frej Jackson wrote in his precedent article, it was the 50th anniversary of McDonald on the 15th of April. In France, it was the 25th anniversary of this symbol of the US culture. To "celebrate" this date, some unknown people stole a plastic statue of Ronald McDonald (the forever-smiling clown, mascot of the brand) during the night and hung him under a bridge of Lille's beltway, in the North of the country. The word "mondialisation" ("globalization") was written upon it in large letters. They also hung a ball and chain to his feet, probably to be sure that this symbol of the "malbouffe" (literally "bad food") would die... but the employees of the fast food found him in the morning and brought him back home. Alive, and still smiling. Ronald is now being analyzed by the police, who are searching for fingerprints...

Posted 08:31 PM | Comments (0)

Happy McBirthday

“A BigMac contains 3.5 grams of onion and two pickles. It has spread throughout 119 countries, because it also tastes like freedom. It has survived both anti-Americanism and health fetishism”, writes Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende in celebration of McDonald's 50th Anniversary on April 15th.

Apart from Santa Claus, Ronald McDonald is actually the figure children all over the world are most familiar with. McDonald’s Golden Arches can be identified by more people than the Christian cross. And The Economist uses its well-known BigMac index to compare purchasing power in different countries.

Although a BigMac is a BigMac wherever you go, McDonald’s has won a lot by adapting to local circumstances. In Israel you can get a Kosher Burger, in the Middle East a McArabia Sandwich, and in India a Chicken Maharaja Mac. Professor in International Relations, Joseph Nye, in his book Soft Power describes the important power of influencing others by culture. And McDonald’s image is definitely McSoft Power par excellence. Nye describes to Berlingske Tidende how an Indian couple recently told him that “going into a McDonald’s is like getting a little piece of America”. A bite of a BigMac is a bite of the West, a taste of freedom, democracy, capitalism, and the opportunities waiting around the corner.

McDonald’s has benefited from being the Western symbol of globalization: Each year USians (a name for "Americans" suggested by Galtung) consume 1.5 billion Double Cheese burgers, there are 31,561 restaurants world-wide, the largest market outside the US is Japan with 3,700 restaurants (of course serving Teriyaki burgers), and one of the largest restaurants with room for 700 customers is found in Beijing, China.

No doubt, McDonald’s is one of the most visible commercial symbols of the United States. But even though rising anti-Americanism and skepticism toward globalization has led to a huge amount of broken restaurant windows, McDonald’s has been successful in adapting to local conditions. In France, for example, it is possible to get a Croque McDo. Many remember the French José Bové, who became a national hero by harassing McDonald’s, according to Joseph Nye, but the interesting thing is that this didn’t affect sales. The French kept on eating Ronald’s burgers.

Finally, here are two questions for the blog: Does a McArabia Sandwich contribute to the spread of democracy? And how does the global success and spread of McDonald’s affect perceptions of the United States in the world?

Posted 12:49 AM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2005

In Iraq, famine kills too

By Pierre Langlais

The French daily L'Humanite published an article on the 12th of April about Jean Ziegler's report on the right to food. Ziegler is the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. He wrote his report for the 61st session of the Commission on Human Rights, which takes place during this month in New York.

"In a world overflowing with riches, it is a outrageous scandal that more than 826 million people suffer hunger and malnutrition and that every year over 36 million die of starvation and related causes . We must take urgent action now."
writes Jean Ziegler, and
"It is an outrage that more than 6 million small children are killed by hunger related diseases every year, in a world that is wealthier than ever before and that already produces enough food to feed the world’s population."

In his report, Ziegler underline the worrying situation in Iraq.

"The situation of the right to food in Iraq is also of serious concern, writes Ziegler. According to a study by John Hopkins University, 100,000 more Iraqis died than would have been expected had the invasion not occurred. Most died as a result of the violence, but many others died as a result of the increasingly difficult living conditions, reflected in increasing child mortality levels. More than a quarter of Iraqi children are suffering from chronic undernourishment, and acute malnutrition amongst Iraqi children under the age of 5 has almost doubled from 4 per cent to 7.7 per cent."
The USA said that this assessment is wrong and asked for the resignation of Jean Ziegler, writes Ramine Abadie in L'Humanite. The USA accused the Special Rapporteur to "take his opinions for facts".

"it is the third time that they [the USA] ask for my departure", said Ziegler. "They asked for it after my reports on the situation in Palestinian occupied territories and on the GMO."

The Rapporteur also wanted to prepare a report on the food situation in Cuba during the US embargo... "But the US authorities categorically refused to receive me" said Ziegler.

Posted 03:08 PM | Comments (0)

From Professor of Peace Studies Johan Galtung

Johan Galtung is professor of Peace Studies and Director of Transcend. He established the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO) in 1959 and the Journal of Peace Research in 1964. He has published hundreds of articles and over 50 books, including recently "Human Rights in Another Key", "Choose Peace" and "Peace By Peaceful Means. Galtung holds numerous honorary degrees and awards, among them the Right Livelihood Award.

In this letter, Galtung answers the following questions posed by WorldAndUS:

What is the prospect of a continued US dominated world order in the long-term, and what role do the world-wide opinions about America play in this regard? Or in other words, how and why do world perceptions of the US matter?
Most non-Americans have an attitude very similar to my own: I love the US Republic and hate the US Empire. Hence what baffles some: "love and hate, often at the same time, often within the same person" – because they refer to different things. The US itself also has brilliant and dark spots, like all societies. But, what do we have against the US Empire?

Mainly this:

[1] The US Empire kills 12-16 million in 70 interventions after WWII
[2] The US Empire condemns people to misery by hyper-capitalism and [1]
[3] The US Empire manipulates the whole world including the UN politically
[4] The US Empire knows only its own approach and is unfit for dialogue

A system like that is condemned to decline and fall; that will also happen to the US Empire (for more on that, and for contradictions much beyond "world-wide opinions about America", see my On the Coming Decline and Fall of the US Empire).

I think what most people want derives easily from the list above:

- stop killing all over
- stop spreading misery along with wealth
- stop manipulating, arm-twisting, spying, coercing
- enter into dialogue as an equal party, also in the UN

In short, join the world. Step down from that platform above Planet Earth, "under God", as Chosen People with a Promised Land and a Manifest Destiny to change the world to your desire. This mentality came with the Pilgrims; the only new point about Bush is that he is more explicit.

The country that would benefit most from the decline and fall of the US Empire will be the US itself, getting rid of that killing, strangling, manipulating, autistic albatross around its neck. We from the outside join you in that struggle as nothing much can be expected from paranoid politicians seeing any dissent as a security threat, unable to see the underlying conflicts and simply go about solving them. And yet, enact the four points above, and gone is not only the US Empire, but the threats to US lives.

As a first step from the UC Berkeley stop referring to your country as "America". This is an insult to non-imperial Canada and to the countries of Latin America struggling under the burden of the US Empire. The name of your country is the US, the United States, or -- if you want to add a postal indication -- the United States of America. The citizens are not "Americans", they are very numerous, but "citizens of the US". How about USians for short?

Please also stop talking about "anti-American", presumably being a misnomer for "anti-US". We know perfectly well how to differentiate between Germany and Nazism, Russia and Stalinism, England and colonialism and so on, even if they were all deeply rooted. Most of us love the former and hate the latter. The USA is not (yet) fascist. But it is geo-fascist, killing directly and structurally all over the world. May your web-site make more of you people wake up and see the realities, not only the myths.

Posted 10:32 AM | Comments (0)

Palestine, Israel and the U.S.

By Najla Benmbarek

A poll published on the website of Qatari channel Al Jazeera shows that 84 percent of 17461 online voters think there is a contradiction between America's support for the road map and its support for the Jewish settlements on Palestinian territories.
The poll speaks for itself and reflects a majority of the Arab public opinion that feels like a dichotomy between the speech and the acts of the American administration on the Palestine issue. Arabs often talk about the financial support the US gives Israel. For them, the money goes directly to finance the destruction of Palestinian homes and the killing of Palestinian civilians.
The last illustration was this morning with the destruction of two houses in the town of Anata. Aljazeera's bureau chief in Palestine, Walid al-Umari, reported that 18 people found themselves without shelter after this destruction.
Although Israelis said that they had to demolish the houses because they didn't have a license, the general reaction is anger. If we tell ourselves that, since 2001, about 675 Palestinian homes have been razed, it gives an idea of the accumulation of anger on the Arabs' side. The killing of civilians is another painful issue.
One thing is for sure: the success of the application of the road map and the role played by the U.S. will have a great influence on how America is perceived in the Arab world.

Posted 02:01 AM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2005

Why doesn't Bush want to be our amigo?

”Never despair” seemed to be the Spanish Government's slogan. And now Madrid has launched a new "offensive" to try to regain George W. Bush's friendship.
Almost a year after José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero announced the pullout of Irak -which started the "ice age" between Spain and the US-Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos has flown back to the US, in another attempt to restore the relationship between both countries.

And the "offensive" doesn't stop here. After Moratinos returns to Spain, four other ministers will soon meet members of the American government. Yet the main symbolic gesture, a "real" meeting between Zapatero and Bush instead of just a short "hola, amigo", still remains unfulfilled. And, according to the Spanish press, we won't see such a meeting for a long while.

But why? Why does Bush hate or despise Zapatero so much? Why has he
forgiven German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder or French president Jacques Chirac and not our president? "El País" newspaper says the main problem is that Bush felt deceived when Zapatero announced the withdrawal of the Spanish troops, because he didn't think it would happen as fast as it did. Moreover, Bush didn't expect Zapatero to call other countries to do the same, a move he felt as disloyalty.

Besides, Zapatero, knowing the popularity of this measure in Spain and
Europe in general, still mentions it every time he can, which seems to hurt American feelings.

Also, Bush didn't like that Spain pushed forward the elimination of some of the EU's sanctions against Cuba -that never really worked- nor the sale of warplanes to Hugo Chavez's Venezuela. Even though the US buys 15 % of its oil to the same Chavez it officially calls a dictator.

Some analysts consider that Zapatero won't set foot in the White House while Bush still holds the presidency. Let alone the Crawford Ranch.

At least someone's very happy about this situation; former Spanish
conservative president José María Aznar, a very close "amigo" of Bush -he has been invited, more than once, to Crawford- likes to remind everybody of their friendship. And he has done it again in a book that will be released later this month. In "Retratos y Perfiles, de Fraga a Bush" (Portraits and Profiles, from Fraga to Bush), Aznar underlines the close friendship he still mantains with his "amigo George", whom he supported even through the Irak war, which, in the end, cost him the presidency. At least he still has a big amigo overseas. Meanwhile, Zapatero is making big friends at this side of the Atlantic, in the still same “old Europe”.

Posted 02:00 PM | Comments (0)

Chile faces U.S. opposition in the OAS Election

The tie in the OAS election last Monday and the United States´ clear decision to back the Mexican candidate, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Ernest Derbez, and not his contender, Chile´s Interior Minister José Miguel Insulza has raised many questions in Chile about the country´ s relationship with the Bush Administration.

It is well-known that since September 11, the U.S. has called for greater intervention of multinational organizations such as the U.N or the OAS in troubled countries such as Haiti and Venezuela. It is such policy that led the Bush Administration to support the removal of former President Jean Bertrand Aristide in 2004 and to indirectly back up the attempt to depose leader Hugo Chavez in 2002.
And that’s where problems start for Chile. According to Peruvian analyst Alvaro Vargas Llosa, Chile’s friendly relationship with Chavez´ government has everything to do with the U.S. opposition to Chile’s leadership in the OAS.

“The reason (of the U.S. opposition) stands in the friendship that Chile has been forced to develop with Chavez government in this campaign to build a solid south American front in a context in which Bolivia was always ruled out, Perú was a tough cookie to crack and Paraguay - because of the Foreign Secretary’s aspiration to obtain the second most important position in an organization that assigns positions according to geography- was never taken into consideration. To Washington, this reality led Santiago to put Chavez in a position of “factotum” to the Chilean candidacy. Venezuela was sometimes more visible than Brazil in Insulza´s effort to obtain the support of the Caribbean countries”, Vargas LLosa wrote in the Chilean newspaper La Tercera, last Sunday.

The columnist added that in any circumstances the “Chavez factor” would have put U.S. support at risk, but that the situation is all the more delicate now that Caracas has ordered the acquisition of combat planes, helicopters, patrol ships and rifles from Brazil, Russia and Spain. Also, Venezuela increasing subsidies to Cuba has made the situation even more complicated.

The Venezuela factor, however, does not necessarily mean that Chile has already lost the election, says Vargas Llosa.

“Chile is the only Latin American country that has reduced its poverty level in the last decade and that offers to the continent an alternative “model” to the Andean chaos or to the revival of the populist left-wing. This logic indicates that there may be countries that will think twice before turning their back to Santiago”, says the analyst.

Posted 07:14 AM | Comments (0)

Ideological warfare and Anti-Americanism

The respected and conservative Heritage Foundation just published a very interesting research paper on anti-Americanism (with considerations on why and how the United States should fight it) that includes a worrisome confusion.

At the core of this paper, one finds the idea that: “ideological warfare can be highly successful.” Efforts to counter anti-Americanism during the Cold War were effective. They “took a sabbatical” in the nineties though, and it’s time to get back to them through a set of means that is outlined in the document.

Helle Dale, the author, explains that one should not mix up anti-Americanism as it can be found in France (as well as in Europe “thanks to the BBC”) and the Al Qaeda type. The difference being “lethality.” After all:

[…] dislike of the United States will not cause France to declare war on the United States, or vice versa.

This is a useful contribution that analysts won’t miss.

To deal with serious anti-Americanism, Helle Dale, who is Deputy Director of the Heritage Foundation, proposes a strategy that includes, among other points, holding “foreign governments accountable for their support of anti-American propaganda,” investing money in “free media” and “revitalizing the Voice of America,” as well as seizing “opportunities” like stepping up aid to “tsunami-stricken areas of South Asia.”

All this belongs to what a serious conservative institution is expected to say.

The confusion

The confusing issue though lies in the definition of the less threatening form of anti-Americanism.

For instance, anti-Americanism in France can indeed be a heavy inconvenience for traveling Americans, who may find themselves on the defensive regarding whether or not they support the Bush Administration's policies.

Delle consciously assimilates critiques to the Bush Administration and anti-Americanism. This is dangerous.

If anti-Americanism does exist in Europe and can lead to unpleasant moments for tourists (see this note). That’s not the whole picture. WorldAndUs has recently published an illuminating testimony of a University of California student in France that expresses critical nuances and contradictions that one should try to understand.

Extracts:

The French will make the distinction that their perceived animosity towards Americans (their so-called anti-Americanism) is directed, for the most part, at the Bush administration. […]
On the whole the French public is kind and respective to Americans living in their country. […] they loathe our president yet love our culture.

Conservatives like to assimilate any critique of George Bush and its policies to anti-Americanism. What might be good tactics internally might prove misleading when they try to understand the rest of the world and build a strategy to confront anti-American sentiments.

Many foreigners may value America without thinking that what is American is necessarily good. They observe a certain distance, they value their differences, and they may formulate criticisms without being anti-American.

This might be true even in the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Criticism of George Bush, the U.S. Government, and even America, does not an anti-American make.

Posted 12:01 AM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2005

From the Pentagon to Rabat

By Najla Benmbarek

Americans are concerned about how they are perceived in the Arab world, nothing new about it. But in Morocco, the francophone news magazine Tel Quel reports that fifteen FBI agents have been in the capital, Rabat, for many days, and are working on surveys for the administration about Moroccan citizen's opinions on various subjects: politics, the Moroccan regime, the economy and the social. Many in Morocco wonder if there are at the same time agents in other Arab countries...

Posted 07:49 PM | Comments (0)

Texas summit seen from Arabs' side

By Najla Benmbarek

Arabs follow very closely every move made by the American administration to find a solution to the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. Saudi daily Asharq Al Awsat (the Middle-East) based in London describes it as "the most complicated of all conflicts". But above all, it's a huge political project and if Bush succeeds in it, it will guarantee him posterity.
For the moment, the U.S president faces a lot of doubts from the Palestinian side.
Ariel Sharon's visit to the retreat in Texas was special, although it was his 11th meeting with George Bush, because this time, the U.S. president's tone was different, praising Israel's first minister to not expand the Jewish settlements.

This time, George Bush seemed willing to keep his promises now that the field is better prepared.
So the negotiations started and the argues as well. It will be hard to convince those who say that Bush, who asks today the Israelis to stop the expansion of West Bank Jewish settlements, is the one who allowed these same settlements in the past and said these territories are part of Israel. But for Asharq Al Awsat's editorialist, the Palestinians should wait for the propositions from both sides instead of already arguing and refusing.
The U.S administration obviously wants a solution in the Middle-East and this solution will be found only if the Palestinians cooperate. If they do, there will finally be peace in a region devastated by the conflict and Washington will have realized an additional step in fighting instability and terrorism in the region.

Asharq Al Awsat

Posted 07:12 PM | Comments (0)

UNDP Criticism of Arabs Countries, America, and Israel

Last week the United Nations Development Program issued its third out of four reports on the human development in the Arab countries: Towards Freedom in the Arab World. The previous reports have gained much attention because of their criticism of lack of development in the Arab world. “What distinguishes this report is its courage and its impartiality,” said Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Muasher, representing the government of Jordan at the launch event on April 5th in Jordan.

The executive summary of the report starts out with the somewhat provoking statement that “The Arab world finds itself at a historical crossroad. Caught between oppression at home and violation from abroad, Arabs are increasingly excluded from determining their own future.”

In Deadline Tuesday April 5th Danish journalist Anders Jerichow from Politiken explains: “Half a year ago the report should have been published, but the US tried to withhold it because it criticized the war in Iraq and the Israeli occupation of the Palestinians. However, Egypt together with other Arab countries also tried to prevent the publishing because of criticism of these Arab regimes". The irony is that neither side can now convincingly claim that the report is one-sided. Further, the report is written by a distinguished panel of Arab experts and intellectuals with wide recognition in the Arab world. This fact makes it more likely that Arab critics will dare to use this report for challenging opressive regimes.

The report underscores the following immediate needs for reform in the Arab world:

1) Total respect for the key freedoms of opinion, expression and association; 2) Ending all types of marginalization and discrimination against social groups and minorities; 3) Guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary and ending reliance on military tribunals and other ‘exceptional’ courts; 4) Abolishing the ‘states of emergency’ that have become permanent features of governance in the region.
Further the report claims that:
The continued occupation of the Palestinian territories by Israel, the US-led occupation of Iraq and the escalation of terrorism adversely influenced Arab human development.

As a result of the invasion of their country, the Iraqi people have emerged from the grip of a despotic regime that violated their basic rights and freedoms, only to fall under a foreign occupation that increased human suffering. A scientific study estimated the number of deaths associated with the invasion and the accompanying violence at around 100,000 Iraqis. Thousands of Iraqis were imprisoned and tortured. Prisoners, mostly civilians, were subjected to inhumane and immoral treatment in Abu Ghraib and other occupation prisons. Such mistreatment is a clear breach of the Geneva Conventions.

The occupation forces struggled to restore basic facilities but were unable to bring electricity, water and telephone services back to their pre-war levels. A US report showed that, by the end of October 2004, the occupation authority had spent only US$ 1.3 billion on reconstruction out of the US$ 18.4 billion allocated for this purpose by the US Congress, i.e. less than 7 per cent.

So, will this report make a difference? Personally, I think it might. The report comes at a critical time, where many people around the world are discussing whether a Spring of Democracy is taking place throughout the Middle East - a claim that needs to be nuanced with an assessment of the actual state of affairs. The report stresses many important steps that need to be taken by Arab countries in order to legitimize their rule. However, by criticizing Western action as well as Arab lack of willingness to reform, this report gains important legitimacy.

For many years the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been used in the Arab discourse as an excuse for not initiating reforms. On the other hand, the fact that this conflict has not been solved has created mistrust and accuses of Western double standards and hypocrisy. Hopefully, this report will help both sides of the conflict to look inward instead of just blaming the lack of development on the other part.

Posted 03:18 PM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2005

COMMON THREADS: Democracy Blowback?

The potential for blowback from the Bush Administration’s new democracy initiatives are surfacing as the Middle and Near East enters a critical historic juncture. On the one hand, the Iraqi parliament’s selection of a Kurd as President and a Shi’ite Muslim leader as Prime Minister can only create relief, mixed with discomfort, among those who opposed the invasion of Iraq. The war may have been brutal, ill-thought out, launched on misleading grounds, and conducted under newly heightened levels of information control, but it is hard to argue with the creation of something resembling representative government for the first time in the country’s history. The elevation into power of two groups long repressed by the Hussein regime and which together represent the overwhelming majority of Iraq’s population is a truly historic event.

But before the United States rests too long on this comforting development, cues from a more democratic Iraq and elsewhere in the region suggest potential trouble ahead, as reported on this site. Democracy can deliver surprises. A government dominated by Shi’ites, closely allied with Iran—one of the Bush Administration’s topmost ‘rogue nations—and Kurds, fierce enemies of America’s close ally Turkey—may yet have many opportunities to turn against American interests. “Are we (Americans and Europeans) ready to accept the results of democratic elections if they imply the victory of Islamists?” asks Najla Bembarek, reporting on a statement by the French Foreign Minister, Hubert Vedrine to Le Monde. Clues that a divide between the American desire for democracy and the democratically expressed desire of the region’s new democrats are beginning to emerge not only in Iraq.

As Lubna Takruri points out the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz last week admonished the United States to steer clear of overly aggressive lobbying for democracy in Arab countries for fear of derailing the efforts through too close an association with U.S. interests. “While the Bush administration's rhetoric has hoped to equate democracy with the American way in the minds of the world, many Arab countries are leaning toward democracy on their own, as long as it doesn't mean pro-Americanism,” Takruri writes.
She quotes Ha’aretz: “To attain public legitimacy, it appears that each of these movements needs an anti-American slogan in addition to the pro-democracy slogan.”

While President Bush pushes for elections in Lebanon independent of the Syrians —which indeed would be a welcome development—cautionary notes about the U.S. democracy offensive are registering as far afield as Australia--about as distant from the roiling tensions of the Mid East as you can get. Federico Rampini reports that a majority of Australian citizens register U.S. foreign policy as a bigger threat to world peace than Islamic fundamentalism.

Ironically, it may be the Middle East, now considered a showcase for the democracy offensive of the Bush Administration, that could end up being the place where the inspirational ideas of democracy are ultimately decoupled from their historic source, the United States.

Posted 06:01 PM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2005

Iraqis between hate and gratitude

“Tens of thousands of followers of a rebel Shi'ite cleric have marched in Baghdad to denounce the U.S. presence in Iraq and demand a speedy trial of Saddam Hussein on the second anniversary of his overthrow.” That is how Reuters, and most western media, described the largest protest in Iraq since the January 30. Most of Arab media and Iraqi daily newspapers choose to underline the anti-American aspect of this demonstration and considered it as the prove that the anti-American sentiment is growing among all Iraqi people, chi’a and sunni, not only among Moqtada Sadr followers.

An article in Al Mada, an Iraqi newspaper, insists on the fact that people came from all over the country, on the call of many imams of mosques during the Friday prayer.

Another one quotes the president of Iraq’s Muslim Ulema Council, denouncing all forms of terrorism, the first one being the “terrorism of occupation forces”.

Al Sabah, the most read newspaper, said “Iraqi people urged for putting a timetable for the withdrawal of multi national forces and end the occupation”. Azzamman, the principal newspaper of Baghdad, is openly anti-American in its editorial, entitled “Two years after: Baghdad is an impregnable fortress”. Here are some extracts of it :

“No people can live under occupation particularly the Iraqis who, throughout ages, have fiercely resisted all forms of foreign presence on their soil(…) Two years since they landed here, there is deep frustration amongst Iraqis at the way they have dealt with Iraqi affairs. On arrival, the occupiers suspended the whole educational system, disbanded the army and turned a country of 24 million people, which had laid down the seeds of the world’s first civil society nearly 5,000 years ago, into a lawless and wild land(…)It is not surprising therefore to see Iraqis pointing the finger at the occupiers for almost all the ills they have come to suffer, including the deadliest of terror attacks. On this day, Iraqis of all hues and colors are called upon to close ranks to foil schemes being hatched to divide the nation across religious, ethnic and sectarian lines. Iraqis need to demonstrate to their occupiers that there is no way for them to advance their coups and conspiracies.”

In a former editorial, the newspaper has qualified the “U.S. ‘oppression’ harsher than Saddam Hussein’s”.

Arab media are not more lenient toward American presence in Iraq. Al Ahram weekly, an Egyptian newspaper, asks “have the two intervening years brought Iraqis freedom?” Here are some extracts of the answer of an Iraqi political scientist and a military expert:

“The occupation made things worse not better. The Iraqi leadership that came to form the ill-famed Interim Governing Council boosted the sense of ethnicity and sectarianism.”
“The decision to disband the Iraqi army, the Republican Guard, the police, and the security and intelligence services was not made at random. The decision was made on the very first day of occupation and it was an invitation to terrorists and to everyone with a grudge against the Americans to come to Iraq, so that Bush's war against terror may unfold in Iraq, away from America and its safety and security. Let the Iraqis die. Two years have passed since the occupation and no one knows how many Iraqis died’ (…) is occupation not terror? Among the definitions of terror approved by the Arab League and the UN is one that says that terror is the murder of civilians. Now the world can see US terror in action, but it does nothing about it. I do not blame the world for looking and doing nothing. The Arabs are not even looking, and when they look they do nothing.”

But not all Iraqi blame the United States for the chaos they are living in. Some try to understand what is happening to the Iraq post Saddam Hussein and take their responsibilities.

The Iraqi communist party weekly publication, Tarik Ach-chaab, analyses the “true face of what’s called the Iraqi resistance”. Instead of magnifying the resistance to the American occupation, like others, the newspaper says “a true resistance is a resistance that wants to put an end to the occupation not to give her a reason to stay longer, a resistance that builds, not destroy.”

Alrafidayn, a news website created by young Iraqis, explains that a year before American intervention in Iraq, Saddam Hussein allied with the salafist wahabist movement, letting the terrorist Abou Massab Zarkaoui settle in Iraq. Since the fall of the regime, this group is aiming to make foreign troops leave by committing terrorist acts. If the Americans withdraw, the chaos left behind will only benefit to them and they will control the country.

The journalist asks “what occupation are they talking about? The occupation officially ended with the UN resolution 1546. Why can’t we be grateful to the foreign troops who freed us from one of the worst regime humanity has seen?”

Posted 04:43 PM | Comments (0)

April 08, 2005

A look on some French chatrooms about Bush and the USA.

By Pierre Langlais

In the article called "'Bush's war', a chatroom against Bush", I showed that the French readers of L'Humanite (a major left wing newspaper historicaly linked to the French Communist Party) are radicals opponents to George W. Bush.
If one take a look at some other chatrooms on French media websites, one can find some readers in favor of M. Bush, and especially a lot of attacks against the supposed "anti-americanism" of France.
For example, the website of Le Figaro, a major right wing newspaper, offers a chatroom where one can read a letter called "Is France a menace ?". Here is an extract of this letter, written by a reader particularly violent and extremist in its point of view :

" [France] did everything - absolutely everything - to save Saddam Hussein and his friends. [France] organized an indecent hospitalo-mediatic show in favor of Arafat, this old war criminel. [France] speaks a double meaning language about anti-semitism, angelic during its speeches to the Jewish community, and violently anti-Israel in its daily diplomatic action."

In this chatroom, one can also find that kind of violent attack:

"Our small insolente nation is still under the influence of Communism. The result is an irrational hate of the USA and a wrong feeling to be a great country!!"

One of the chatrooms of L'Express, a moderate right wing magazine, is also dedicated to Bush. It is called "4 more years at the White House", and one can read some quite violent attacks against France, and in favor of the USA. A reader wrote,

" [France] placed itself as the head of an anti-american crusade. Using the war in Iraq, it strired up the hate and the opposition to the USA all around the world. France did everything possible to protect Saddam Hussein, to support him against the USA, to sabotage every american efforts in Iraq, to acquire the terrorists' good grace at the expense of the Americans."

In contrary, the chatroom of the daily Le Monde is full of letters like this one, quoting Jeremy Rifkin:

"The American Dream is in decline. Americans are increasingly overworked, underpaid, and squeezed for time. But there is an alternative: the European Dream-a more leisurely, healthy, prosperous, and sustainable way of life. Europe's lifestyle is not only desirable, but may be crucial to sustaining prosperity in the new era."

... and this one :

"For the USA, the 'near east' doesn't exist. Evrything is 'middle east' and they ofen don't know where it begins and where it ends. One can recognize this superficial attitude in their way to call all the Maya and the Aztecs coming from Mexico 'latinos'."

The chatroom of Le Nouvel Observateur, a moderate left wing magazine offers different point of views. Some are violently against Bush, like this letter:

"Bush is a paranoid [...] He is the incarnation of an intellectual face of destruction [...] We should stop fighting against these fascists [...] or lets pray for a meteorite to fall on the White House. You never know..."

...some have some fun with the "anti-amricanism" in France, like this one:

"I think that things go too slow with Bush. I can hardly wait for Schwarzenegger ! So... are the anti-everything's frogs happy ?"

Posted 08:28 PM | Comments (0)

The communist newspaper that wants to "help America"

In Italy there is a communist daily paper that wants to help the USA. “Let’s help America" is the title of the leading article published by “Il Manifesto”, founded in the early ‘70s by a group of dissident militants from the Communist Party.

The author of the article is one of the founders, Valentino Parlato. “Il Manifesto” is the newspaper Giuliana Sgrena writes for. Sgrena is the journalist who was kidnapped in Baghdad and whose liberation concluded a month ago with the tragic death of the Italian intelligence agent Nicola Calipari.

"Already some time has passed since elections took place, but Iraq is still in chaos: no government worthy of this name has been put on". In the article Parlato mentions the withdrawal of the Dutch and Ukrainian troops, and he asks why Italy doesn’t make the same decision. According to the journalist, the withdrawal would be "a useful suggestion to the great American ‘ally’".


In Iraq - Parlato writes - the real problem are not the Italians, the Bulgarians, the Ukrainians..., but the Americans. "The American presence in Iraq has a different meaning from the one it had in Italy and also in Germany at the end of Second World War. All the Iraqis, the ‘friends’ also, consider Americans a force of foreign and hostile occupation. And Americans are realising now they are in a trap from which it is more and more difficult to get away ".

In order to stress this idea, Parlato mentions Edward Luttwak - not a pacifist for sure-, who wrote an article entitled " Logic of disengagement " on “Foreign Affairs”. For Luttwak "the American presence risks destabilizing all the adjacent countries and is harmful also for those Iraqis that consider themselves America’s friends”.

Posted 05:12 AM | Comments (0)

Misinformation about war

The daily paper “Il Foglio” - a four-page information newspaper that politically sides with the Right and-governmental positions - dedicates the upper part of the second page to the review of the latest book by Hillman "A Terrible Love of War".

Hillman is defined a left-leaning, ‘non-organic’ intellectual, a pacifist who supported Kerry’s candidacy to presidency of the United States of America, but sensitive to the reasons of others. This is why his theory of war like man’s ancestral instinct, like drive that "belongs to our spirit as archetypal truth of the cosmos", collects the favours of the journal in a moment when the debate on Iraq’s war dominates in Italy.

In fact, political parties are split between forces that incline to the withdrawal of the Italian troops and the ones that support the reasons of participation in the war. Therefore, the book written by a pacifist who supports the inevitability of war enters the arena of political discussion, becoming the object of exploitation for the support of Iraq’s war rather than the subject of a deeper analysis. This way Hillman seems to be supporting Bush’ s policy in Iraq without hesitancy.

Posted 05:12 AM | Comments (0)

Australians view US as a threat to peace

U.S. foreign policy poses as big a threat to world peace as Islamic fundamentalism, while the rise of China is the last on a list of potential threats, according to a survey on public opinion in Australia, one of Washington's closest allies in the Asia-Pacific. The results of this comprehensive survey have surprised foreign policy analysts in Australia and underscore the problems facing the Bush administration as it tries to improve the international image of the United States.

U.S. Image Sags In Australian Poll
By RAYMOND BONNER (NYT)
Published: March 29, 2005
As the point person in the Bush administration's campaign to improve America's image in the world, Karen Hughes may face a more difficult challenge than she imagined and discover that she will have to travel far beyond the Middle East. A poll released Monday in Australia, long known for friendly relations with Americans, found that only 58 percent of the population had a positive view of the United States.
That put the United States behind China (69 percent positive), and not even in the overall Top 10 countries, regions or groups that Australians respect. They have a more positive opinion of France (66 percent) and the United Nations (65 percent), according to the poll, which was commissioned by the Lowy Institute for International Policy, a research institute with a generally center-right orientation.
The survey indicated that Australians think their leaders have been too willing to sign on with America's foreign policy ventures and should listen to the United Nations more, and are evenly divided over whether the greatest threat to the world today comes from American foreign policy or Islamic fundamentalism.
The poll surprised many here because the American-Australian relationship has long been considered special by both countries.''I have to say that the results of the survey have jolted some of my assumptions,'' said Allan Gyngell, executive director of the Lowy Institute.
The poll was based on interviews with 1,000 Australians, and had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. The results are online at www.lowyinstitute.org.

Posted 03:57 AM | Comments (0)

Only 10% of Chinese consider Bush "friendly"

In a recent government-sponsored survey, more than half (56.7%) of the Chinese respondents said that the US government is trying to "contain China's development", while 66% said they liked American people. Asked "why you do not like the US government", 37.6% mentioned the American support to Taiwan. 41% of the responders said that Taiwan could trigger a war between China and the US. The survey was done by Beijing-based Global Times (a government-run newspaper focused on international news) and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences that acts also as a governmental think-tank. China Daily, the government-run English language newspaper, published this story with more details on the survey.

BEIJING, Mar. 2 -- More than half of Chinese said the United States government is containing China, while 66.1 per cent said they liked American people, a recent survey showed.  
The survey, done by Beijing-based Global Times in cooperation with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, found that 49.2 per cent of the responders consider the United States a competitor, and 60.5 per cent said that how to resolve the Taiwan issue will definitely influence Sino-US bilateral relations.
By picking 1,175 persons in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing and Wuhan, five of China’s biggest metropolises, the survey found only 10.4 per cent considering Washington a friendly government, and 56.7 per cent saying it is trying to contain China's development.
Asked why "you do not like the United State government", 37.6 per cent said that Washington supported Taiwan regime by selling it weapons, 31.7 per cent said Bush administration launched the Iraqi war under false claims, and 7.9 per cent based their dislike on increasing military ties between the United States and Japan, which till today refused to apologize to the Chinese people for the enormous hurt it inflicted on China during WWII.
And, 45.0 per cent anticipated status quo of bilateral ties during the 2nd Bush term, while 29.4 per cent said that the relations will improve. Those expecting worsening relations account for 11.7 per cent.
More than 46 per cent said that growing economic links in the past years has helped political exchange and promoted friendship between the two peoples. Those who admire or accept American culture make up 59.4 per cent.
Up to 41.2% of the responders said that China and the United State could possibly enter into hostility and conflict because of Taiwan in the future.
Yan Xuetong, a foreign policy expert with Beijing's Qinghua University, said in an interview that the survey results proved his long-time belief that although the majority of Chinese do not like Washington government, because of its unfriendly China policy, they like American people and appreciate American culture.
"It's a blend of love and hatred," Yan said.
Tao Wendao, another foreign policy expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, shared the same belief. He said that American people are also divided on China. A survey by CNN and the USA Today, in September 2003, showed that 9 per cent of Americans consider China an ally, while more than 40 per cent consider China a potential enemy.
That's why the joggling of engagement and containment (of China) is going on in Washington, Tao said.
Professor Yan Xuetong said that Chinese holds clear-cut different attitudes of American people, American society and American government. The major factor of Chinese people's discontent with the United States government is Washington's foreign policy, especially, its selling weapons to Taiwan.
(Source: China Daily)

Posted 03:11 AM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2005

From Virginia Visani in Milano : The cost of being Bush’s friend

Virginia Visani, a free lance journalist sent us this letter from Milano (Italy) commenting on the regional elections that just took place in Italy:

Last Sunday, the 3rd of April, elections for 13 regional governors took place in Italy.

The result was a “débacle” for the coalition of Berlusconi, La Casa delle Libertà.
They have lost 6 Regions, whereas the coalition of Romano Prodi, leader of the left, is presently ruling on almost every Italian region but Lombardy and Veneto.

According to commentators and columnists this can be caused by people’s disappointment regarding the promises Berlusconi made before being elected and was not able to deliver. But this is not all. Some anti-Bush sentiment might be involved.

The opposition coalition ( whose name is L’Unione) is composed by moderate ex communists who strongly opposed the war in Irak, are against Bush administration--but not against America, they say (they were fans of Kerry last November). The same coalition, however, includes under the names of Rifondazione Comunista and Comunisti Italiani many radical communists, strong opponent of the U.S..

Both these parties receive votes from different groups and mouvements generally known as “protesters” like the “No global” network, anarchists, pro-Palestinian and Islamist movements, violent groups ironically named “mouvements for peace.”

They are the “people of Puerto Alegre,” and their antiamericanism has grown in these last weeks. Among the reasons that might explain this phenomenon that also affects the moderate communists, one should note in particular:

Irak post-war
- according to the left, the responsiblity for this “disastrous” event is only and “in toto” American. They fault Berlusconi for having joined and supported Bush’s war.

Giuliana Sgrena - as soon as the Italian journalist landed in Rome after her liberation, the main claim, supported by several media, was against the American patrol who shooted because, it was said, Sgrena had collected some war news and interviews that the U.S. did not want to be known.

Terry Schiavo
- against Bush’s engagement for her life, leftists are pro-eutanasia and insist that her no-life should have been interrupted already 15 years ago.

This is why Berlusconi’s friendship with Bush seems to be an important, if not the principal, cause of his defeat.

The only recent occasion in which the leader of La Casa delle Libertà has been unanimously, entusiastically, applauded by the Left, Right and Center wings of the Senate was when he “showed his muscles” against the U.S. and urged for a bi-lateral enquiry in the real responsibilities in the Giuliana Sgrena episode that lead to the death of an Italian officer.

Posted 12:23 AM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2005

New French tactics against American cultural domination

Expatica, a site for expats, recently published a story on French reaction against Google’s electronic library project: Gallica.jpg

French President Jacques Chirac has vowed to launch a new "counter-offensive" against American cultural domination, enlisting the support of the British, German and Spanish governments in a multi-million euro bid to put the whole of European literature online.
The president was reacting this month to news that the American search-engine provider Google is to offer access to some 15 million books and documents currently housed in five of the most prestigious libraries in the English-speaking world.
The realization that the "Anglo-Saxons" were on the verge of a major breakthrough towards the dream of a universal library seriously rattled the cultural establishment in Paris, raising again the fear that French language and ideas will one day be reduced to a quaint regional peculiarity.

The basic issue, as seen by National Library president Jean-Noel Jeanneney who published an OpEd piece in the daily Le Monde on the subject is “the risk of a crushing American domination in the definition of how future generations conceive the world.” [Published on January 22nd edition, the article is not available for non suscribers. You will find most elements translated and annotated on this page].

Expatica reminds us of the existence of a “complex web of laws and subsidies” to defend its cultural products. An attitude that might remind us of the “Maginot line” of sinister fame for its incapacity to defend France against the Panzers in 1939. Walls are still less effective on the web.

What is new and interesting is the apparent decision to take the offensive and put more French texts and cultural material on the internet. There is a small program at the Bibliothèque de France called Gallica. But, according to this story, its budget is one thousandth of what Google will put to develop its own.

Aware of this the French will intend to involve British, Germans, and Spanish in a European counter-offensive.

Opposing the flows of American cultural products on the web might seem ridiculous to some, but understanding that – when dealing with content at least - it takes flows to combat flows indicates a significant move forward.

Posted 11:39 PM | Comments (0)

"Bush's war", a chatroom against Bush

By Pierre Langlais

The French daily L'Humanite, historicaly linked to the French Communist Party, give on this website, www.humanite.presse.fr an interesting chatroom about the war in Iraq, called "La guerre de Bush", "Bush's war".
The readers can take position in deferent debates about the war, of course, but also about the elections and the constitution in Iraq, and every subject linked to the travels of George W. Bush.
It is hard to find someone in this chatroom to defend Mr. Bush. For example, after the liberation of the Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, during which an Italian agent was killed by the GI'S, a reader wrote :

"Bush declares ABSURD the reaction of the Italian public opinion. What would be absurd would be not to include/understand the aggressiveness of Bush against the journalists, and not to include/understand the eagerness of the GI'S to fire on a supposed "communist = terrorist." Giuliana had all the marks of the WITCH TO KILL: She was a witness of the electoral masquerade [in Iraq ]. She was a journalist. She was communist. While shoting on her they killed an heroic Italian soldier, and they also destroyed Berlusconi's illusion concerning an alleged American's humanism."

This chat is an interesting way to take a look at the point of view of left wing voters close to the French Communist Party. Probably not the most famous chatroom, but an official one, monitored by a serious newspaper.

Posted 08:04 PM | Comments (0)

"Pro-Democracy, Anti-America"

In a rebuke to the notion that democracies are uniform and should get all along, Israel's Ha'Aretz writer Zvi Bar'el presents a piece examining the attempts - and sometimes movements - toward democracy in Middle Eastern and Arab countries: a place the U.S. is quick to jump in and take credit for.


While the Bush administration's rhetoric has hoped to equate democracy with the American way in the minds of the world, many Arab countries are leaning toward democracy on their own, as long as it doesn't mean pro-Americanism.

To attain public legitimacy, it appears that each of these movements needs an anti-American slogan in addition to the pro-democracy slogan.

Some Arab countries do want democracy, Bar'el says, but not always simply because of pressure from the United States. Reform movements have achieved much in recent years because protests and civil uproar have caused regimes like Egypt and Lebanon, he says, to listen up.

Without a local infrastructure of civil protest movements, the American administration could not have initiated the political protest.

He ends by implying the United States foreign policy is a naive attempt to get troublesome countries on some kind of the same system as the United States to cause a worldwide harmony of which America is the leader and teacher.

The expectation of congruency between democracy in Arab countries and an American approach may not be fulfilled. The expectation that an Arab democracy will be a magic recipe for supporting peace with Israel is even less likely to be realized. The home truth of supporters of occupation, from the Israeli right to American conservatives, that democracies do not go to war against each other, needs refining.

Pro-democracy and anti-U.S.
By Zvi Bar'el
Democracies can be the death of each other. The Arab failure to accept Israel has little to do with the absence of democracy.

Perhaps the president of Egypt would not have initiated the constitutional amendment permitting direct presidential elections had it not been for American pressure. He probably would not have released from prison the chairman of the al-Rad ("tomorrow") party either, had not Condoleezza Rice made the "administration's displeasure" clear to him. But without a local infrastructure of civil protest movements, the American administration could not have initiated the political protest.

Lebanon is an even clearer case of the administration hitching a ride on a local bandwagon. The grumbling against Syria that erupted after the Israel Defense Force's withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000 ripened into an almost nationwide protest, which the Lebanese call intifada, after the murder of Rafik Hariri.

Suddenly the paradox emerged. Apparently, nondemocratic regimes are more impressed by demonstrations and sometimes listen to public opinion more attentively than democratic states, which conduct their negotiations with parliamentary mediation.

The new regime the Americans have set up in Iraq, however, seems to be floundering. Two years after the beginning of the war, Iraq isn't managing to become a real state. Bickering among ethnic groups and the political divisiveness prevailing after the war are preventing even the appointment of a parliament chairman. The Kurdish district has become independent, and the "deocratic process" could breed a theocracy conceived in an American oven.

The sad part of all these examples - happily the United States is not involved in building the Palestinian democracy as well - is that the American adminstration and Bush in particular are perceived as a scourge. Reform movements in Egypt, Iran, Lebanon or Syria, whose members are ready to be killed for democracy in their country, go berserk the moment they are accused of receiving American funds or contributions.

To attain public legitimacy, it appears that each of these movements needs an anti-American slogan in addition to the pro-democracy slogan.

Egyptian sociologist and human rights activist Dr. Sa'ad Al-Din Ibrahim, who intends to contend for the office of president, is a case in point. Running with slogans similar to those of the Kafaya movement - the very symbol of objection to Mubarak's continued reign - and of the Muslim Brotherhood, he is considered a "traitor" because he has American citizenship.

The leaders of the opposition in Lebanon, who bring masses to the streets with the slogan for "liberty and democracy," are careful not to be identified as supporters of the United States. So are the reform activists in Iran.

The result borders on the absurd: To build a democracy in the Middle East, at least some reform movement leaders believe they must paint themselves with anti-American colors. One sign raised in the demonstration in Egypt said, "No to America, Yes to democracy."

The Druze leader Walid Junblatt, head of the opposition in Lebanon, called on the U.S. to stop interfering in his country's internal affairs. The active Palestinian democracy is adding Hamas and Islamic Jihad to its ranks and will not necessarily be pro-America.

The expectation of congruency between democracy in Arab countries and an American approach may not be fulfilled. The expectation that an Arab democracy will be a magic recipe for supporting peace with Israel is even less likely to be realized. The home truth of supporters of occupation, from the Israeli right to American conservatives, that democracies do not go to war against each other, needs refining.

Democracies can be the death of each other. The Arab failure to accept Israel has little to do with the absence of democracy. It has more to do with the region's shared history and especially with the continued occupation.

Posted 06:09 PM | Comments (0)

British Defense Company Sides with America

In a move contrasting American policy, Britain's Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has decided end the 1989 arms embargo on China. One defense company (the largest in Britain and sixth-largest in America) has refused to export arms to China for fear of hurting the US interests and therefore earning American retaliation, according to ThisisLondon news.

BAE fears the US would, in turn, stop sending vital high technology to Britain if China ended up receiving British-sent arms.

BAE backs US over Chinese arms ban
Tom McGhie, Mail on Sunday,

BRITAIN'S biggest defence company, BAE Systems, is siding with the Americans rather than its own government by refusing to export arms to China.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has called for the lifting of the arms embargo imposed after the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. But BAE, fearful that the Americans would retaliate by banning exports of vital hightechnology components to Europe, has failed to back him.

The company, majority owned by US shareholders and rapidly building up its interests across the Atlantic, is America's sixth-biggest defence company.

BAE said: 'Our interests are their [the Americans] interests.'

A spokesman added that while the company had a small defence business in China, the US market was worth billions of pounds. 'You work it out. We support the armed forces of the UK and the US and we will not do anything that harms the long-term interests of these countries.'

BAE recently announced it was buying United Defense Industries - makers of the Bradley tank - for £2.15bn, but the takeover has yet to be approved by Washington.

BAE's pro-American line comes as Europe considers lifting its arms embargo to China - a move that has led to US threats to halt exports of vital technology to the Continent.

Washington is worried that sophisticated European weaponry could be used by the Chinese against American troops in the event of the US coming to the aid of Taiwan if it was attacked by China.

Posted 04:47 PM | Comments (0)

April 05, 2005

A Much Needed Diplomatic Success for Europe

"America always preaches the rule of law, but in the end it always places itself above the law", as a British ambassador expresses himself in Clyde Prestowitz’s Rogue Nation. This widespread feeling of American double standards now might be changing.

Thursday March 31st the United Nations Security Council voted to send any war crimes suspects from the Darfur region of Sudan to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague, after the US obtained amendments to exempt Americans from the tribunal’s jurisdiction. The long-waged battle between the US and EU over the ICC thus led to a minor victory for the Europeans. Might this event signal a change of US foreign policy in a more multilateral direction?

American objections to the court are based on the view that it is unaccountable and could become a forum for politically motivated prosecutions against Americans abroad. The Clinton administration signed the 1998 Rome treaty setting up the court in December 2000 but the Bush administration revoked the signature in May 2002. It was President Bush’s recent nominee as ambassador to the UN, John R. Bolton, who originally signed the letter abrogating the American signature and afterwards saying that this experience had afforded him “the happiest moment in my government service”, according to the New York Times. Ironically then, Thursday night Bolton had to accept this first ever referral of a case to the ICC.

For quite some time the ICC has been a highly profiled common policy issue for the EU-countries, which was reflected in the fact that negotiations Thursday took place at the highest level between the American, French, and British foreign ministers. In Europe the ICC has become one of the main symbols of multilateralism, and the American struggle against this rule of law institution has lead to great European frustration. The New York Times describes Thursday’s US move as representing a “significant diplomatic change of course for the Bush administration, which vehemently opposes the court and has been insisting for two months that it would block any Security Council move legitimizing it”. So why this sudden change?

The American UN diplomats in New York attempted to play down the significance of this vote, stating “we got the full protections for Americans that we sought”. The European media, however, seemed thrilled but also somewhat hesitant depicting this as an actual change in US policy, since “the Americans could hardly act differently. The US government has been a leading force in holding those responsible for war crimes in Darfur accountable, and the US has described the atrocities in Darfur as ‘genocide’ – whereas the EU has used less strong language”, says Danish Berlingske Tidende.

Nevertheless, this event will be considered a small victory to most multilateral minded policy-makers and diplomats throughout the world, and most likely will have a small but positive impact on sentiments toward the Bush government. Of course, this depends on whether the US decision proves an actual change in policy toward listening more closely to other countries and restricting its own behavior, or if it is just a one-time decision taken out of other concerns. According to the reactions of the American UN diplomats, unfortunately, it seems to be the latter.

Posted 11:06 PM | Comments (0)