Ghitis: Anti-Americanism didn’t start with Bush

posted at 2:55 pm on December 28, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Miami Herald readers got a dose of realpolitik instead of Hope and Change from Frida Ghitis yesterday.  Many of Barack Obama’s supporters thought that he would usher in a new era where America was beloved across the globe simply because we had replaced George W. Bush after two terms in office.  Ghitis points out what should have been obvious all along — which is that anti-Americanism didn’t start with George Bush, and it won’t end with Barack Obama, either (via Instapundit):

If you thought America would quickly regain the world’s love, admiration and — most important — it’s willingness to follow the U.S. lead once Barack Obama came to power, the news is disappointing. A useful guide to what has transpired comes from Venezuela’s president and his most peculiar sulfurometer. Hugo Chávez, it seems, can smell the Devil, especially when the Prince of Darkness takes up residence in the body of an American president.

Watching Chávez’s devil-spotting shows that efforts to turn America’s foes into friends will, in many cases, prove utterly useless. There is an important lesson there for everyone, including the resident of the White House. …

Some countries and politicians have goals and interests that conflict sharply with the United States. Regardless of how the man in the Oval Office speaks, regardless of how charming he is. And some nations and leaders will define themselves by their anti-Americanism.

Still, the conciliatory tone from President Obama does serve a useful purpose. When Bush was president, it was easy to believe that people like Chávez or regimes such as Iran’s acted the way they did because America spoke in tones they found offensive or overly confrontational. Now we know there was more.

Iran’s defiance of international demands on its nuclear program are not the product of poor table manners from the Bush administration. Iran behaves as it does because its regime has certain objectives, and its accelerated nuclear enrichment is key to achieving goals such as regional supremacy.

The idea that anti-Americanism exists or increased just because of Bush springs from an immature, self-centered view of the universe and international politics.  We saw this in the weeks after 9/11 from the “Why do they hate us” crowd that attempted to blame the victim for the terrorism.  It’s safer to think that we control everything in the world, and that therefore we have the power to change anything in the world.  That’s nothing more than a fairy tale, and a dangerous one when taken seriously.

Each nation acts in its own interests, and dictatorships especially so.  Blaming America for their ills suits dictators and kleptocrats because it keeps their oppressed people from blaming the real authors of their misery.  These nations stoke anti-Americanism in order to give their subjects an external enemy on whom to focus rather than revolt against their own authority.

But even beyond that, nations act in their own interests.  The collection of AGW hysterics in Copenhagen were not there to take action themselves against industrialization and wealth, but to extort a redistribution of that wealth from already-industrialized nations.  Chavez’ speech, which prompted Ghitis’ column, demanded that the US take action in the form of massive payoffs to third-world countries, most of which are oppressive dictatorships.  It was a lack of commitment along those lines, rather than a commitment to handcuff the American economy, which caused Chavez to smell sulfur at the podium again.

The only way for America to end anti-Americanism would be to stop acting in our own interests.  Not even Obama can pull that one off, at least not for long, and everyone knows it.  The real problem with anti-Americanism is that Americans take it so seriously.  We need to act in our own interests while treating our friends fairly and securing ourselves against our enemies.  That’s what nations do, and only the unserious worry about whether they’re liked for doing so.


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Comments

The thugs lurking in the shadows want the ‘cop on the corner’ gone.

Only then can they get ‘down to business’.

CPT. Charles on December 28, 2009 at 2:59 PM

So will Ogabe finally stop apologizing to everyone?

Bishop on December 28, 2009 at 3:00 PM

News flash:
Obama supporters are naive fools.

RobCon on December 28, 2009 at 3:00 PM

Some countries and politicians have goals and interests that conflict sharply with the United States.

Obama is working hard to fix that.

Daggett on December 28, 2009 at 3:01 PM

I’m sorry, I thought his Cairo speech was suppose to end the terrorist “man-caused disaster” “legitimate businessman” attempts on our country?

Enoxo on December 28, 2009 at 3:02 PM

Ron Paul – and his legions of followers – disagree.

Yeah, I had to go there, right?

SteveMG on December 28, 2009 at 3:06 PM

Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.
— Peter F. Drucker

ya2daup on December 28, 2009 at 3:07 PM

Why is that coke-head still consuming oxygen and emitting CO2? It is time for the CIA to go green and start eliminating third-world mouth-breathing dictators by the truckload.

CMonster on December 28, 2009 at 3:08 PM

OT: Obama making a statement from HI now.

conservative pilgrim on December 28, 2009 at 3:08 PM

O/T: Barack The Magnificent is finally speaking…with a open collar and prissy attempt at a mustache.

kingsjester on December 28, 2009 at 3:09 PM

To an iron-fisted authoritarian government, there’s nothing more dangerous than a whiff of American-style freedom. And to Islamists, trying to bring back the joys of the Tenth-Century, there’s nothing more pernicious than American entertainment culture that seeps in by satellite. Neither of these things depends on who’s President at the moment. And on the cultural front, liberals, the kind who make R-rated and X-rated movies, are more offensive to Islamists–not less.

RBMN on December 28, 2009 at 3:10 PM

kingsjester on December 28, 2009 at 3:09 PM

Moustache? Whew. Thankfully, I’m listening on the radio.

conservative pilgrim on December 28, 2009 at 3:11 PM

Said it before and will say it again-when bin Laden declared war on the US in 1996, Bush wasn’t President. A Democrat was. And that President was actually named by name in the 1996 Fatwa.

BTW that same President also said in 1998 that bin Laden was in cahoots with Saddam Hussein. But that relationship mysteriously disappeared the instant the 9/11 attacks happened. Politically inconvenient for the Democrats, y’know?

Del Dolemonte on December 28, 2009 at 3:11 PM

Do you suppose anti-americanism started with the British or the Indianians?

Tommy_G on December 28, 2009 at 3:11 PM

O/T: Barack The Magnificent is finally speaking…with a open collar and prissy attempt at a mustache.

kingsjester on December 28, 2009 at 3:09 PM

That’s not Obama, silly!

cntrlfrk on December 28, 2009 at 3:13 PM

conservative pilgrim on December 28, 2009 at 3:11 PM

Yep. President Pantywaist, indeed. All he needed was a French beret, black and white striped shirt, and red hankerchief around his neck.

kingsjester on December 28, 2009 at 3:13 PM

Tommy_G on December 28, 2009 at 3:11 PM

To hear the PC crowd tell it, it was the Spaniards, acting at first through Christopher Columbus.

ya2daup on December 28, 2009 at 3:14 PM

Straw Man says: There are those who believe the only answer is to nuke the entirety of Iran into a national sea of molten glass. Still others would say that we should do nothing. We disagree. We believe that the answer lies somewhere above my pay grade.

Hey, have you tried the pineapple burgers on Maui? Don’t I look great?

Mojave Mark on December 28, 2009 at 3:19 PM

Hello!!???! A great many of Obama’s supporters already know this; they’re anti-American, too.

Dusty on December 28, 2009 at 3:19 PM

Anyone who was alive and awake during the 1980s saw the anti-Americanism / anti-Reagan that was rampant in Europe. They believed he was going to cause a nuclear WWIII. And there were anti-global trading riots when Clinton was president. You would either have to be ignorant or a liar to claim this started under W.

rbj on December 28, 2009 at 3:20 PM

That’s what nations do, and only the unserious worry about whether they’re liked for doing so.

Who cares if they ever like us. I love it when they fear and respect us, primarily when they fear us. They don’t, at the moment, because they know we have a Wuss in Chief.

Schadenfreude on December 28, 2009 at 3:26 PM

And there were anti-global trading riots when Clinton was president.

America=global trading? Globalism is not synonomous with the US.

aengus on December 28, 2009 at 3:26 PM

O/T: Barack The Magnificent is finally speaking…with a open collar and prissy attempt at a mustache.

kingsjester on December 28, 2009 at 3:09 PM

Oh Gawd
Now the diva needs HRT !

macncheez on December 28, 2009 at 3:27 PM

Anti Americanism is as old as America…and it says more about them than it does about us.

Terrye on December 28, 2009 at 3:27 PM

and only the unserious worry about whether they’re liked for doing so.

Don’t forget the morons, too.
Who cares if America isn’t liked? As long as they respect us and stay the hell out of our way…
Of course, with the Messiah bowing and scraping his way through diplomatic circles, respect is pretty much out of the question.

Yeah, yeah, ugly American, etc., etc. Whatever. It’s a cruel world out there. “Nice” doesn’t guarantee love and acceptance. It does get you a place at the table, though… as the main course.

n0doz on December 28, 2009 at 3:36 PM

America=global trading? Globalism is not synonomous with the US

Tell that to the protesters at these events who most often are seen burning U.S. flags and denouncing the U.S. While it is true that trade is not “synonomous with the US”, the US is seen by all those who oppose free trade as the the most evil of all countries engaged in the hated capitalism.

And don’t claim those protests are “anti globalism”. That’s b.s. that does not even have any meaning. Those protests are an always will be protests against capitalism by communists or their useful idiots (read, “the youth”).

Monkeytoe on December 28, 2009 at 3:40 PM

Whoever smelt it dealt it.

crazy_legs on December 28, 2009 at 3:46 PM

Each nation acts in its own interests, and dictatorships especially so.

Everyone but liberals understands that.

GarandFan on December 28, 2009 at 3:48 PM

Operation Ajax. Everything stems from that one event back in 1953. Everyone in the world hates America because of the actions of President Eisenhower.

/Blowback BS theorist

BohicaTwentyTwo on December 28, 2009 at 3:52 PM

Ed,
That’s an awesome write up. I am amazed you can think so clearly with so many issues exploding around.

Again great work.

antisocial on December 28, 2009 at 3:55 PM

America=global trading? Globalism is not synonomous with the US.

aengus on December 28, 2009 at 3:26 PM

If you had paid any attention to those “demonstrations”, aka riots, you would have seen that they were consistently anti-American.

rbj on December 28, 2009 at 3:57 PM

The real problem with anti-Americanism is that Americans take it so seriously.

Some Americans do. I couldn’t care less what the “rest of the world” thinks about America just like a couldn’t care less what others think about me. I’m not sure where this need to be loved by foreigners comes from but I suspect it comes from those who are trying really really hard to turn America into an European styled government.

Texas Gal on December 28, 2009 at 3:58 PM

Reminds me of my favorite line by Ralph Peters: “It is better to be hated and feared, than to be hated and held in contempt.”

And yes, anti-Americanism pre-dates the American Revolution. Europeans (the ones that didn’t emigrate here) have always looked down their noses at us, and they’re probably still the best friends we’ll ever have in the world. I’ve understood this for years! What’s wrong with the rest of the people in this country?

NeighborhoodCatLady on December 28, 2009 at 4:02 PM

So what you are saying is that it’ll end with Palin?/sarcasm

shick on December 28, 2009 at 4:13 PM

So will Ogabe finally stop apologizing to everyone?

Bishop on December 28, 2009 at 3:00 PM

No, he’ll apologize harder, and bow lower.

Clearly, these people hate us because they’re envious of our free and what they believe is a lavish, indulgent lifestyle. There’s only one thing to do – make everyone in the U.S. poor and lorded over by the government, just like their countries. Then they’ll have no reason to hate us anymore, and they’ll pick on somebody else. ///

capitalist piglet on December 28, 2009 at 4:19 PM

Everyone in the world hates America because of the actions of President Eisenhower.

Yep; funny how the French and British, who were also involved, don’t receive the same criticism.

Convenient, isn’t it?

SteveMG on December 28, 2009 at 4:40 PM

The real problem with anti-Americanism is that Americans take it so seriously.

Very true. The Americans who are obsessed with anti-Americanism are usually the self-loathing types. They are the ones who keep on looking for Root Causes. Why do they REALLY hate us? Of course, we all know it really doesn’t matter why they hate us, because its all an excuse. Like Chavez, they will always find an excuse to hate us.

BohicaTwentyTwo on December 28, 2009 at 4:45 PM

I’m with whoever above said that they prefer the rest of the world to fear us. Ditto, ditto, ditto. I couldnt care less if some hairy arm pit town in the South of France thinks we are bullies and savages. At least I own a Lady Schick razor, beeyotch.

di butler on December 28, 2009 at 4:54 PM

It seems to me there’s a difference between “not caring” about world opinion and ignoring world opinion.

I go with Jefferson’s “decent respect for the opinions of mankind” and argue that while we shouldn’t base our policies on what others think about us, we should always be willing to answer their criticisms.

SteveMG on December 28, 2009 at 5:27 PM

The people who worry about whether or not America is “liked” abroad not only reveal their extreme naivete, they also reveal their ridiculously narrow provincialism. As anybody who’s lived abroad can tell you, if America is resented overseas it’s because of her strength relative to the resenters’ own countries on the global playing field. It’s as simple – and as perfectly understandable – as that.

Much in the same way fans of football teams regularly getting trounced by powerhouse teams ‘don’t like’ the quarterbacks who are handing their guys’ asses to them every Sunday, as long as America is strong & its President competently does his or her job by aggressively protecting & promoting the best interests of the citizens of this nation, America will not ‘be liked’ in the world.

Admired? Yes. Envied? Yes. “Liked” no.

And it’s a howling absurdity that anyone, including our astonishingly naive POTUS, believe things could possibly be any different.

Should the citizens of the city with the winning Super Bowl team feel bad because everybody else in America hates their quarterback for dominating the field the whole season & acing them out of the championship?

Only learning-disabled TV anchors & ditzy NYT pundits are nutty enough to think that winning quarterbacks – and Presidents – should give back their trophies, lay down on the field & try harder to be ‘liked’ by their competitors’ fans.

Heck, I’ll bet even the democrat party’s own propagandists responsible for peddling the stupid meme to the press didn’t believe their own partisan BS about America’s alleged decreased standing in the world being the result of GWB’s America First policies.

leilani on December 28, 2009 at 5:29 PM

Europeans (the ones that didn’t emigrate here) have always looked down their noses at us, and they’re probably still the best friends we’ll ever have in the world

I maintain that because America is basically a country founded by European cast-offs and populated by decendents of some of the lowest dregs of Europe (and other contenants) and turned out to be the most successful and prosperous country in the history of the world really grates on them. Add to that the fact that we’ve been able to do it all in less than 250 years, while they, and their thousands of years of history, are stagnant.

crazy_legs on December 28, 2009 at 5:41 PM

Still, the conciliatory tone from President Obama does serve a useful purpose. When Bush was president, it was easy to believe that people like Chávez or regimes such as Iran’s acted the way they did because America spoke in tones they found offensive or overly confrontational. Now we know there was more.

It just now dawns on this leftist that these tin-pan dictator countries use a hate for America to appear as a protector in the eyes of their people in an effort to justify their actions and maintain their own power? America has been “The Great Satan” in Iran since the Mullahs seized power in the late 70s and have called us that through the Reagan, HW Bush, Clinton, GW Bush, and now the Obama administrations. You can’t tell me that the Miami Herald didn’t know that. For them to pretend they just figured this out is an insult to anyone who has been paying attention. This is just a weak attempt to cover up their clear and inarguable bias against Republicans and conservatives. This huge “revelation” allows the leftist press to now change their spin to accommodate their chosen party and president now that they are in power the Republicans are not.

Dollayo on December 28, 2009 at 6:16 PM

Tommy_G on December 28, 2009 at 3:11 PM

To hear the PC crowd tell it, it was the Spaniards, acting at first through Christopher Columbus.

ya2daup on December 28, 2009 at 3:14 PM

And to hear the terrorists otherwise tell it, they’re at war with the Crusading Knights. Haven’t yet worked that out from what I’ve read.

Lourdes on December 28, 2009 at 6:31 PM

Well put, Ed.

Cylor on December 28, 2009 at 6:34 PM

…and — most important — it’s willingness to follow…

Do they not have editors at the Miami Herald?

hicsuget on December 29, 2009 at 11:34 AM

In the twenty+ years of 1960s-80s working and living in Europe there was never a time that America was beloved and admired.De Gaulle kicked NATO out of Paris and aimed his nuclear ‘force de frappe’ at all his former allies, millions marched against Nixon and johnson over Vietnam and millions more marched against Reagan’s forceful and ultimately successful stand during the Cold War.The red star,hammer and sickle were standard graffiti items.Jealousy was evident, so was fear but never love.

Patrick49 on December 29, 2009 at 11:59 AM

Freaked out when I saw the title of the post. “What did I do to deserve my name in a headline?” Then I realized it was a distant cousin…

clghitis on December 30, 2009 at 12:49 AM