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Dissecting Anti-Americanism

Understanding How the World Views the U.S.A.

By

Children waving American flags.
U.S. Navy Photo/James Foehl
February 2, 2007

We all want to be liked. Or at least understood. But poll after poll after poll show a widening and deepening disrespect and dislike around the world for the United States of America.

Some Americans look at the numbers as a confirmation of their own world view. They think, "Well, of course. We go around the world like a bull in a china shop, breaking things and ordering other countries around. We say we believe one thing, and then we go and do the exact opposite. Why shouldn't the rest of the world hate us?"

Other Americans see the numbers and experience cognitive dissonance. They think, "How can this be? American values are a beacon for human advancement. People around the world flock to American universities and American movies. One of our biggest problems is how to deal with the inflow of immigrants. How can they possibly hate us?"

Both points of view have considerable validity. And standard public opinion polls are too crude to fully dissect the love/hate relationship people around the world seem to have for the United States. If quantitative methods can't do the job, we need to rely on the qualitative descriptions of the problem from observers around the world. Here are some good places to start:

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