Hating America: An Old Tradition in Some Quarters

News Abroad

Mr. Pipes is the director of the Middle East Forum. His website address is http://www.danielpipes.org.

“The creation of the United States of America is the central event of the past four hundred years.” Thus does Walter A. McDougall of the University of Pennsylvania begin the first volume of his acclaimed new American history, Freedom Just Around the Corner (HarperCollins).

Not surprisingly, this central event has evoked a wide range of opinions. Tens of millions of immigrants have voted with their feet to slough off prior allegiances and join the boisterous experiment that makes “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” its official goal.

The result has been an astounding success. “We dominate every field of human endeavor from fashion to film to finance,” writes American columnist Charles Krauthammer. “We rule the world culturally, economically, diplomatically and militarily as no one has since the Roman Empire.” As one symbol of this dominance, the outside world is so affected by the forthcoming U.S. presidential election, polls are now taken of who non-Americans would vote for, if they could.

There is, of course, a dark side to this extraordinary success too, and it includes envy, fear, and resentment. In a wise, pungent, and (given its negative subject matter) enjoyable study, Barry Rubin and Judith Colp Rubin review this other side in Hating America: A History (Oxford). In the book, they accomplish three main things.

First, they provide a host of nonsensical assessments of the United States going way back, some amusingly absurd, others vicious.

  • Comte de Buffon, renowned French scientist (1749): The American “heart is frozen, their society cold, their empire cruel.”
  • Talleyrand, French politician (1790s): It is a country of “32 religions and only one dish … and even that [is] inedible.”
  • Alexis de Tocqueville, French social philosopher (1835): “I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion.”
  • Sigmund Freud, Austrian psychiatrist (1930s): “America is a mistake, a gigantic mistake.”
  • George Bernard Shaw, British playwright (1933): “An asylum for the sane would be empty in America.”
  • Henry Miller, American novelist (1945): America is “a fruit which rotted before it had a chance to ripen.”
  • Harold Pinter, British playwright (2001): The United States is “the most dangerous power the world has ever known.”
Second, the Rubins trace the surprisingly variegated history of anti-Americanism, a play in five acts. In the eighteenth century, a widely credited “degeneration theory” argued for America’s inherent inferiority. Animals and humans from Europe, it posited, dwindle in size and shrivel mentally in the New World’s wastelands.

The period 1830-80 witnessed a focus on the alleged failure of the American experiment. Democracy had produced a miserable polity, society, and culture, one on the verge of collapse. The United States threatened as a bad example that might be emulated.

America’s rise to power, 1880-1945, saw fears develop that the American model might dominate the world. Each American military victory – in 1898 (over Spain), 1918 (World War I), and 1945 (World War II) – caused this anxiety to take on new urgency.

America’s stature as one of two superpowers during the Cold War, 1945-90, further enhanced those fears. Whereas the Soviet Union had limited appeal or influence beyond its military prowess, American hegemony threatened via such seemingly innocuous matters as fast food, movies, clothes, and computer programs.

The United States emerged in 1990 as the unique post-Cold War “hyperpower,” fulfilling the worst nightmare of anti-Americans, who blamed it for all of the world’s ills and engaged in unprecedented spasms of America-hatred.

Finally, the authors’ catalogue of hundreds of pages of fury clarifies the motives behind anti-Americanism. From very early on, the spacious skies and amber waves of grain offered a freer, richer, and more tempting alternative, compelling those who stayed behind to rationalize their choice. (In domestic American terms, it’s like justifying not having moved to California.) Anti-Americanism is the Doppelgänger (evil twin) of America’s seductiveness and power.

To a limited degree, the hostile effort has succeeded. A sustained French campaign against Coca-Cola in the 1950s lowered consumption of that potable below anywhere elsewhere in western Europe. Polls today show wide global disapproval of the United States.

Ultimately, however, the rants, shouts and insults fade away, defeated by America’s serving as a benign force on the world stage and its accomplishments in enabling its citizenry’s pursuit of happiness.

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Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

I feel your pain and share your dismay.

But, insults and abuse are really nothing all that new. Today we have a nominal Vice President and defacto co-President who tells people he doesn't like on the floor of the Senate to go f themselves. 150 years ago one senator caned another unconscious.

If insults were the worst that threatened us there would be little need to read and reread George Orwell. With Pipes, there is a continual need to look beneath the sugar-coated barbs to the profoundly anti-democratic and anti-republican (all lowercase) agenda lurking below: e.g. here, most probably, pre-rationalization of the coming, post-Fallujah perhaps, round of neo-con disasters.

Perhaps unprecedented is the unquestioned and tolerated extent of blatant and even pathological hypocrisy in public life today. The old tradition unmentioned in the article here is Pipe's longstanding demagogic attempts to smear American higher education, one of the few examples where American excellence can be readily seen by following how foreigners "vote with their feet" (notwithstanding the recent fall off in enrollments from overseas thanks to chilling effect of the Pipe's buddies in the PNAC and Cheney-Bush Administration).

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

The "days of unity after 9-11" were destined to fade, especially since the real unity was instantly and horribly exploited and hijacked by Rove & Co for 2004 election purposes. "This is war" (instantly magnifying the crime many-fold, even dignifying it) and calls for regime change of "state-sponsors of terrorism" were heard on that very same day, even before anyone had had time to review the passenger lists or had mentioned the name Al Qaeda.

The "unity" rang hollow to me from the start because it was not then (nor ever since, astonishingly) accompanied by the words I would have expected from a President Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Papa Bush, Clinton, Gore, McCain or Wesley Clarke: They can blow up our buildings but not our principles. We are putting police on every flight right away because those barbarians are not going to stop our travel services even for a day. Nor will we give them the slightest satisfaction by curbing any of our traditional freedoms or compromising any of our values. There will be a full no-holds barred non-partisan investigation as soon as possible, so that we can exert with maximum effectiveness a series of actions to insure that the chances of anything like this ever happening again are reduced to the utmost minimum. We call upon all other governments, especially our NATO allies to urgently join us in developing a comprehensive long term policy to attack the fundamental roots of this horror, assiduously, intelligently, and relentlessly. Our government has failed today, and we mourn the victims of this disaster but we will learn from the tragedy how to be stronger, more alert, more proactive and better prepared in the future.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

I understood that your pain is derived from "the issues that drove the voters", and they how they express themselves, Maarja, and I do feel it.

I can remember a more civil time in this country when reflection, consistency, relevance, accuracy, and principle were more highly valued, across the political spectrum than today. Coarse language, rude interruptions, shouting down the other side with rah rah slogans were for football matches, bars, or street demonstrations, and not welcome in discussions between national leaders or informed analysts in business suits. (A proper History News website, for example, would have a moderator that would screen submissions and comments accordingly).

But, there is a causal connection between the deterioration of public discourse on the one hand and hypocritical and corrupt public policies packaged in Orwellian language on the other, and that connection runs in both directions. The replacement of discipline in education with gimmickry, the supplanting of factual journalism with infotainment, and the rotting of family values are part of this and no political subgrouping in this country is blameless (and, I might add, the problem, though less advanced in some other places, is not basically only an American problem either). That is why "Pogo" was in the subject line of a comment of mine from a week or two ago, if you get the reference.

P.S. You need not repeat your political party affiliations -past and current- for the sake of me or any other regular poster. I think we all got it, quite some instances ago :)

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Arnold, I do not defend the tactical methods used by NATO in Kosovo, but it is not valid to compare the number of civilian deaths caused by them to the deliberate slaughter by Milosevic's units, because the latter were stopped well before its full effects could occur. To conflate the successful, multilateral last-resort actions on Kosovo and the bungled, unilateral first-resort invasion of Iraq is even more illogical and unhistorical. There was an imminent threat in Kosovo, there was not in Iraq. Copious evidence of mass killings was discovered in Kosovo, no WMDS were found in Iraq. Clinton was not an unelected president running for election/reselection in 1999.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


I'm not too interested at this point in either Mickey Z or Mickey Mouse, nor I am an expert on either Jewish or Christian "moral philosophy", but it strikes me that "imminent war" does not come close to being a sufficient justification for a pre-emptive attack. On that theory, the U.S. would have been justified in using nukes, had it had them then, on Japan in November, 1941.

Only if the allegations of imminency are credible (which they absolutely were not in March, 2003, for example) and if there are no available, viable, reasonable and less drastic alternatives to pre-emption remaining (ditto) can be it be morally just, it seems to me.

I would even go further to say that it is potentially suicidal (thus immoral, by your judgement) to launch an unjustified war of pre-emption, because the tremendous loss of moral standing thereby ensuing severely limits future possibilities of using pre-emption when it IS justified.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

N., Your silly puddy definition of war has become so rubbery that you are losing track of it. How can Israel's 1967 invasions be a preemptive war, if "a legal state of war" already existed ? The '67 war was morally justified, I submit, not because Israel was under imminent threat of annihilation, but because it was then (in great contrast to now) a democratic underdog unjustifiably provoked by hostile forces unwilling to accept its existence. The facts that there was Cold War on at the time, and that the U.S. was only just barely a net importer of oil were also crucial factors.

I can conceive of no realistic circumstance under which a nuclear first strike would be morally justified. Certainly it would not have been as a means of preventing World War II, even if a Manhatten project had delivered us both atom bombs and crystal balls before 1941. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are like petty shoplifting along side the crime of a nuclear Pearl Harbor in reverse and in advance.

No nukes would have been needed for the U.S. to have joined the League of Nations, sent troops to stop Germany's illegal re-militarization and occupation of the Rhineland, supported the anti-fascists in Spain, let in any refugee from Europe fleeing Nazism or communism in the late 1930s, or defended the fleet at Pearl Harbor.

In addition to morality and judgement, there is the small matter of common sense prudence. Suppose we had destroyed America's moral standing for a thousand years by using nukes on Japan before they attacked us at all. Suppose Hitler, noticing carefully, responded by pulling his then still-triumphant Eastern Front forces into defensive positions, while starting negotiating for a buying-time ceasefire with Stalin, and whilst developing a crash program to copy the U.S. nukes. By 1943 Werner von Braun might have been ready to test them on his rockets. Then you might be really be able to talk about an irredeemably Evil Europe.

Michael Harrington Weems - 11/21/2004

Thanks for pointing out what Mr. Clinton was really like, it's about time.

N. Friedman - 11/16/2004


I have re-read your earlier post. I still think that you have written about a different topic than I was addressing. At least, that is what I thought. I was addressing Mickey's Z.'s comment in the context of his seeming support of fascist causes. I think you were making a slightly different point.

N. Friedman - 11/16/2004


Maybe. OK?

Michael Barnes Thomin - 11/16/2004

Or perhaps the Triple Entente should not have been so needlessly aggressive and arrogant in 1919.

Arnold Shcherban - 11/15/2004


I believe we were talking about Kosovo, in particular, weren't we?
So, what "slaughter commited by Milosevich units" are you talking about? Do you, as some others(unwavered by the findings, the be exact - non-findings, of international commissions) still insist on the official "genocide", "mass graves" version, forwarded by Clinton's administration as the pretext for that invasion?
Do you know the well-established and confirmed number of victims of the "slaughter" you so passionately express yourself on? On the other hand, do you know the also well-established and confirmned number of the victims of the NATO invasion in Kosovo and other parts of Serbia?
Democracy, freedom?
Do you know that during NATO's occupation of Kosovo, the total number of Serbs killed there by Albanians and Nato's forces exceeded the respective number that allegedly served as the reason for the invasion?
Do you know that right now, after ten years of primarily American occupation of Kosovo there is
no either democracy or freedom (except freedom to rob and kill neighbors), and the social situation are controlled by Albanian mafia, quite peaceful organization though, comparing with... Belgrade's bombing?

As on your objection to my alleged parallel between Kosovo and Iraq, you are right: only insane cannot see the big and numerous differences between the two invasions. On the other token, however, only blind one cannot see the similarity in the patterns of lies and exaggerations (though, undoubtedly, of different caliber, strategic importance and potential consequences) employed by Clinton and Bush administration to justify respective military actions. To compare BJ with a War is a ridiculous matter, but to compare a smaller war with the bigger one is quite a legitimate one.
Besides, Kosovo is far from the "best" historical illustration of the imperialistic and hegemonistic nature
of the US' 20th-century foreign policy.
I just don't want to repeat myself, since I remember already enumerating some others for you before, then actions of the US in which makes (and should make) any normal and moral person sick.
Even over a single non-preemptive war this country was involved in - against Axis states - the Japan's agression against the US was instigated by the latter, as it is became known some 40-50 years later. Roosevelt in talks with the officials in his administration was openly expressing his administration strategy of seeking military
confrontation with Japan; they were seriously looking for the best way to provoke Japan's first strike, surely the way that would not reveal the real instigators of the conflict. Finally, they found it at Pearl Harbor...
On the well-understood reasons (and with the great contrast with the mentioned provocation 'way') this documented fact somehow can't find its way onto the pages of the American 'popular history'.

And, I repeat: bombing of Hirishima and Nagasaki was an undeniable war crime. Even Japanese samurais, Nazi SS officers and Soviet NKVD officers admitted and condemned
their own crimes. Why the Americans cannot face theirs?

Arnold Shcherban - 11/15/2004

Mr Friedman,

My argument "for the most part" had nothing to do with what you wrote?
On one hand I admire your nerve, on another I'm sorry to relay to you that you have been caught on obvious LIE.
You could forward your own arguments to object, but to deny the direct, immediate relevance of my arguments to what you wrote before is a grave insult to facts and logic.
As anyone can witness reading my previous message:
a) You objected to Mikey's Z. critique of Clinton's actions concerning Kosovo "killing fields". I responded with the arguments on the very same "killing fields".
b) You objected to his claim that at the end of the WWII
this country commited a war crime by dropping nuclear bombs on two Japanese cities. I commented on the complete irrelevancy of your "argument" about 60 mil. of the victims of other countries' war crimes, as a justification of the respective crime(s) of commited by the US.
These two issues, as it can be easily seen, comprised approximately 2/3 of my comments.
So, what "most part" of my comments, allegedly being irrelevant, are you talking about?
Where is your elementary respect to UNDENIABLE, VISUAL FACTS, not mentioning your opponent?

"My comment regarding the Mickey Z argument stand. I think his argument amounts to espousing fascism"

Sure... I must have been really insane to expect anything else from you.

N. Friedman - 11/14/2004


Other than your comment regarding the 1967 war, about which most people call it a preemptive war, you have actually written an intelligent response. I accept your statement as a possible alternative. It is not the exclusive possibility but it is certainly possible.

Another possibility, if we had used the bomb, would be that all of the Axis powers might have surrendered. That is also, you will note, possible.

N. Friedman - 11/14/2004


For once, I do not think we have much of a disagreement.

A few points. One the one hand, no one could, in advance, know that WWII would kill 60 million people. However, there was reason, at the time the US joined the war, to believe that millions would die. With that in mind, how can you, without any hesitation, take the view that it would be wrong for the US to have used nukes at the outset of the war - if we had had them -? I am not saying it would necessarily be just but I do note that such approach might, quite possibly, have saved the great mass of people who needlessly died - perhaps 55 million people, perhaps more -.

On the other hand and on the Iraq question: I do not take Iraq as an example of a pre-emptive war. I take it as a battle in an existing war. Which is to say, historians looking back on the war will, if enough time has passed, see the war as one battle among many that have and are likely to occur. I happen to think the Iraq war was a mistake but that does not turn on whether or not it was pre-emptive.

The classic pre-emptive war was the Six Day War. In that war, Egypt blocked the Straits of Tiran in violation of International law (and, under International law, permitting war), removed the UNEF forces from the Sinai desert and substituted Egyptian forces, in violation of the Armistice agreement (thus creating a legal state of war), entered into a war treaty with Jordan and with Syria and Syria massed its troops on Israel's border as did Jordan, which had Egyptian troops on Jordanian soil along Israel's border - again, in violation of the Armistice agreement -. The entire world, even the BBC, thought Israel would be overrun. The Israelis, before attacking, sought help from the International community but none was forthcoming. After that effort failed, Israel attacked.

N. Friedman - 11/13/2004


Your argument, for the most part, has nothing to do with what I wrote.

So far as fighting war is concerned, International law, I hate to tell you, does permit pre-emptive war. As does Christian and Jewish moral philosophy. In fact, Jewish moral philosophy requires pre-emptive war when war is imminent on the view that suicide is immoral. Christians view such a war as a "just war."

Now, that does not mean that all pre-emptive war is just or moral or legal. That is, as with all things, a judgement call.

In the case of the end of WWII, there is the argument that the US administration had motives in addition to ending the war, for dropping the bomb in Japan. However, the bomb did, in fact, end the war and end it quickly. Perhaps there was a better way to do things. Maybe not. However, to judge that event outside of the context of a war that killed 60 million people is, I think, stupid.

My comment regarding the Mickey Z argument stand. I think his argument amounts to espousing fascism.

Arnold Shcherban - 11/13/2004

Mr. Friedman,

The salt of the matter is in the double standards perpertually used by the American mainstream "analytic" approach and ideological thought, in general.
Practically every and any action of a country, whether it is concerns purely internal or foreign policy, that considered to be this country's economical or/and political ('economical' is the most crucial part of this equation) opponent/"enemy" is viewed at the least as wrong one, at the most - directly threatening this country's "national security". Not already mentioning
the true war crimes.
At the same (or a slight different) time the exactly same kind of actions taken by this country or its perceived
economical and political allies, even if those actions are
undeniably (according to all international and internal standards) fit the war crime "spirit and letter" are at the least attempted to be justified by the half-childish, half-arrogant "if they can do it, why not us", (as if forgetting that when 'they' do it 'we' call them war criminals and treat them as such.)

Even if one believed in the official version of the reasons behind the miitary actions in Kosovo (and outside it) or Iraq (the first being to stop "genocide", the second - to "disarm" Saddam's Iraq), the so-called 'intellegence failuires' in those two cases: the absence of genocide and, consequently, of the projected mass-graves in Kosovo and the absence of "the massive stockpiles of WMD" (actually - any stockliles) in Iraq were just one of the grave consequences of this pattern of double-standard approach. As some official and non-official WMD experts and some political observers (including myself) predicted long before the corresponding invasions, neither one of the alleged causes
existed, but had been just a lousy (for the majority of thinking folks) excuses for the certain "economic-strategic interventions" well along the way towards ultimate USA goal: global domination.

Your objection to Mickey Z on the amorality of the Clinton's actions should he "allowed killing fields to appear in Kosovo" stands to no, more or less objective, critique on the following reason(s):
Even if the killing fields that were extrapolated, as the reason for the invasion and the dislocation of troops(which we now can unmistakenly name 'occupation', since the alleged cause of it was eliminated ten years ago!)
might have happened, the military intervention has violated one of the main principles of justice (in that case international justice) - presumption of innocence.
No country has a right to attack another one just on the
presumption that something terrible might had happened in the latter country to the people of that very country, if the first one does not interfere. This is not my or someone else's opinion, this is what international law
dictates us, the very law that the US and some of its allies just love to quote, as the one that MUST be obeyed by their perceived enemies.
Not mentioning the fact that according to independent and
official sources of many European states, including the victims and criminals - Serbian ones, the number of innocent victims of the NATO's invasion and bombing campaign eclipsed the real number of victims of Serbian repressions against residents of Kosovo many times over and continued to grow with every month of occupation.
Whose genocide was and is it?

Your another argument, whose characterization I have already given above, on the glorious WWII ending by this country over nuclear extermination of the entire two Japanese cities, is criminal by itself. Because there are mass murderers out there, it is quite righteous or justified for someone or some nation to become mass murderer themselves. Right? What moral wonders our unwillingness to accept even moral responsibility for the crimes is uncapable to produce?

And therefore, ... Mickey Z's article just has to be "ideologically fascist".

N. Friedman - 11/12/2004


I read the article by Mickey Z. What of it? He evidently thinks Clinton should have allowed killing fields to appear in Kosovo. He thinks that ending WWII, as we did, was a crime - as if the other 60,000,000 killed by conventional means, by the fault of the fascists forces, was just dandy or somehow not as bad. He thinks that Clinton's efforts to combat Jihadi violence by lawful means was wrong.

I have no clue what perspective you come from. However, half of what is argued in Mickey Z.'s article sounds ideologically fascist. Is that where you stand?

chris l pettit - 11/12/2004



Not that I expect many to actually understand...


Michael Di Tore - 11/11/2004

Respectful as I am of Daniel Pipe’s vast knowledge of the Middle East and his command of four languages, I couldn’t agree with the way he used McDougall ‘s Freedom Around the Corner for his own purposes.

And I am always suspicious of anyone’s views when they put two posed photographs of himself suitable for printing and framing on their web-site. McDougall ‘s "Freedom Around The Corner" is a great interpretation of American history and should be read in an independent state of mind,

but Pipes has taken it, like others who are in the employ of the Anointed One in the White House, to justify America’s wars because we are supposed to be morally superior to Europeans and Muslims.

Michael Green - 11/10/2004

Utterly fascinating! In one paragraph, Pipes manages to compare the dislike for Coca Cola--which has been known to take the paint off of objects, by the way--with current disapproval for the U.S. Has it occurred to Mr. Pipes that Coca Cola never bombed anyone on the basis of a lie designed to prove a cowardly, draft-dodging, frat boy's manhood?

Maarja Krusten - 11/8/2004

Sorry, "strong Republican votes" should read "strong Republican background," since in the past I voted straight Republican from 1972 to 1988. I really did used to be a Republican and I really am an Independent, now.

Maarja Krusten - 11/8/2004

Peter, thanks for the thoughtful messages. You say you feel my pain. That pain is directed at the issues that drove the voters, not at who won the election. We don't know how a second Bush term will play out, and remember, I have strong Republican votes. I'm shaking my head at what drives people to post on HNN and what issues the voters cared about--and what never was discussed, by anyone. In a posting yesterday, I mentioned inner city children being murdered in Washington, and wrote:

"This is happening in the city where the President of the United States lives. Neither candidate addressed those issues, yet those people are Americans just like the people in the Red States. I tried several times to raise the issue of inner city poverty and crime on HNN during the campaign. I couldn't get a single person to address it. Moral values, indeed, I call it cherry picking, and that means, a lot of people look as if they are taking the easy way out. The election centered on gays, abortion, and guns, and the most vulnerable members of society remained invisible, both in the Presidential debates and here on HNN? Please."

Maarja Krusten - 11/7/2004

Yeah, now the rants, shouts and insults are traded amongst our fellow citizens, as anyone who has been reading HNN during the election campaign could see. I hope the rest of the country isn't like those who post here but I'm afraid some of it is. Look at the labels that are flung about: Leftists! Liberals! Unpatriotic sissies! Right wing fanatics! Fascists!

The days of unity after 9/11 seem so far away. Who would have thought we would have seen a New Yorker saying last Wednesday, "'Everybody seems to hate us these days,' said Zito Joseph, a 63-year-old retired psychiatrist. 'None of the people who are likely to be hit by a terrorist attack voted for Bush. But the heartland people seemed to be saying, "We're not affected by it if there would be another terrorist attack." Those who have stirred up the fury against fellow voters in the country really seem to have opened Pandora's box. The President has called for national unity. But, as H. R. "Bob" Haldeman once famously said in the Nixon White House, it's awfully hard to put the toothpaste back in the tube once you've squeezed it out.

See also http://hnn.us/readcomment.php?id=46288#46288