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Anti-American sentiment

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Anti-American sentiment or Anti-Americanism is a hostility towards or disapproval of the government, culture, history, and/or people of the United States of America. Anti-Americanism may be applied both to non-Americans and Americans themselves, though in the latter case other items such as “unpatriotic” are as likely to be used.

The term is rarely employed as a self-identifier (“I am anti-American…”) but is used most often by people who suggest the United States is unfairly singled out for criticism, which makes its nature and effects debatable. Those who discern Anti-American sentiment in others and attempt to denounce it see it as a real and dangerous prejudice, no more acceptable than other forms of bigotry such as Anti-Semitism. From this perspective, Anti-Americanism reveals as much about the chauvinism and parochialism of America’s critics as it does about America itself. Critics of the term, meanwhile, view it as a propaganda item that suppresses legitimate criticism leveled towards the United States, particularly insofar as the accusation of Anti-Americanism conflates violent acts against American citizens with peaceful demonstration against American foreign policy. Thus, there may be broad agreement that a terrorist act directed at the United States or the often paranoid accusations levelled at the U.S. by regimes such as North Korea, Iran or (historically) the Soviet Union constitute Anti-Americanism, but there is much less consensus on whether a protest march in Germany against U.S. military intervention or a newspaper editorial in Brazil denouncing U.S. trade policy should also be considered anti-Americanism.

Table of contents


Anti-American sentiment can be found as far back as 1768, when Cornelius de Pauw, court philosopher to Frederick II, described America as a bunch of "degenerate or monstrous" colonies and "the weakest European could crush them with ease". Also in 1775, Kant described Americans as an artificial uncultured "half-degenerated sub-race". These early descriptions show that the anti-Americanism began as European racial superiority because of their "pure blood".

Not all early European criticism was arrogant. In fact, some early European criticism criticized American arrogance. For example, Samuel Johnson hit upon one theme, that, in various forms, has long defined Anti-American sentiment: the perceived hypocricy of a freedom-loving people engaged in less than admirable practices. Americans in his eyes were thieves in their relations with Indigenous peoples and African slaves: "How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?" He famously intoned that "I am willing to love all mankind, except an American."

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, most anti-Americanism was an outgrowth of these early European attitudes. To the elites of Europe, America was usually viewed as a nouveau riche society, individualist and isolationist, with little to offer the world on an intellectual or cultural level. As American power grew and the country’s potential became more obvious, Anti-Americanism underwent an important shift: it became less easy to simply dismiss America as culturally underweight as its industrial and military power continued to expand and if early denigration of America was based on the presumed superiority of Old World societies in time this became less tenable. This new strand of anti-American sentiment started to appear as America entered the competition for influence in the Pacific, and anti-Americanism was widespread in the Central Powers after the U.S. entered First World War. Even amongst allies Britain and France there was resentment as the end of the war found them massively in debt to the United States. These sentiments became even more widespread during the interbellum and depression and sometimes tended toward the irrational: the belief that America was ruled by a Jewish conspiracy emerged in countries ruled by national socialists before and during World War II and by communist countries after the war.

After the Second World War, anti-Americanism grew within the sphere of the Soviet Union, and spread to other parts of the world to some extent. The Vietnam War cystallized much anti-American sentiment: here, American critics felt, was naked imperialism at its worst though supporters remained willing to forgive the mis-adventure given the over-all priorities of the Cold War. Paradoxically, the fall of the Soviet Empire may have brought an increase in anti-Americanism, because the US was left as the world's only superpower, and people who formerly saw the US as a bastion against Communism no longer felt the need to support the US for this reason.

Many commentators believe that contemporary anti-Americanism is rooted in envy as much as in any legitimate grievance as similar feelings have been held towards every other nation that has gained prominence over its contemporaries. Examples include Spain (Black Legend), Britain, Imperial China, and the Roman Empire. The French historian Fernand Braudel places this idea in a long perspective: "At the centre of the world-economy, one always finds an exceptional state, strong, aggressive and privileged, dynamic, simultaneously feared and admired. In the fifteenth century it was Venice; in the seventeenth, Holland; in the eighteenth and still in the nineteenth it was Britain; today it is the United States." (The Perspective of the World p. 51).

For this reason, criticism of America does not necessarily fall into the category of xenophobia. However, many people have specific criticisms of the United States, which are explained below.


United States foreign policy is arguably the primary engine of anti-American sentiments, covering a diverse range of topics and disputes. For this see Opposition to US foreign policy

American economic philosophy

America is perceived as having a free market economy with a strong focus on competitive markets and individualism and a concomitant lack of regard for the social welfare and wealth re-distribution policies evident in other industrialized countries. Some opponents, for example socialists, believe American capitalism is a deeply flawed system that creates massive inequalities. They accuse the American private sector of perpetuating and promoting this economic system across the globe, with little concern for progressive social, environmental and cultural movements. Earlier, workers protested the industrial methods of Taylorism which were seen as dehumanizing. America-based multinationals like United Fruit are felt to use the strength of the American government to trade unfairly with small countries. The European Parliament has accused American firms of using the Echelon spy network to outbid European competitors.

American firms are sometimes seen as imposing a uniform way-of-life around the world. The term cocacolonization is sometimes used to describe this, because of the beverage sold by the Coca-Cola Company worldwide. Fast-food franchises like McDonalds, Burger King, supermarkets and malls are seen as symbols of the American way of life substituting the traditional local businesses. However, consumers often have accepted the American products happily. Anti-Americanism is sometimes used in promoting alternative products like Mecca-Cola.

However, not all criticism of American economic philosophy is rooted in support for socialism and other "leftist" perspectives. American libertarians want to get rid of the protectionism prevalent in the US economy. Some see America's high level of military spending as government support for a large sector of the U.S. economy which runs counter to the larger economic philosophy of the country.

Cf. also below international trade and trade embargoes.

American domestic policy

In some countries, particularly in Europe, American retention of capital punishment contributes to the general view that the United States continued to engage in barbarous practices, which is occasionally perceived as a contradiction to America's insistence on human rights. Europeans often profess to being shocked by the widespread popular support the death penalty continues to have in the United States, where as of May 2004 all but 12 U.S. states (as well as all U.S. territories, such as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico) have the death penalty.

All European countries except Belarus have adopted the Sixth Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights, which abolishes capital punishment during peacetime. Japan is generally considered the only other industrialized nation with a good human rights record that retains capital punishment.

Foreigners, especially Europeans, are often perplexed by America's liberal laws on gun ownership, and interpret this, along with the relatively high rates of murder and violent crime, plus the often violent content of American films and television programs, as meaning that American society had widespread tolerance and acceptance of violence. Gun politics are debated vigorously in the United States by both gun-rights advocates like the National Rifle Association and gun-control advocates such as James Brady or Michael Moore.

The War on Drugs is also considered an oppressive activity by many who are socially liberal, both within and outside of the United States. It has resulted in a large prison population, much of it composed of nonviolent drug offenders, who are often economically lower-class. A significant minority of the American population views the War on Drugs as a second Prohibition. It has also resulted in damaging international pressure and intervention directed against other countries involved in the drug trade, such as Colombia.

Some criticize the United States for the low rates of women with important political positions, for example, in the 108th United States Congress only 14 percent of congressmen were women. Several countries have twice these rates (Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, the Netherlands) and some have three times the percentage of women in legislative assemblies (Sweden, 42 percent). The U.S. figures are far above the world average, and higher than some other industrialized countries, notably those with a typically patriarchal culture (Italy, nine percent; Japan, two percent).

All of this contributes to the perceived image of some that the United States is generally more "backwards" and "regressive" than other First World nations, in the sense that it has kept old attitudes and values alive which are largely being phased out in Europe and elsewhere.

Finally, American free speech law has become an international issue ever since the rise of the Internet as a medium of communication. Since the United States has extremely far reaching free speech protection (under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution), Internet service providers based there can be used to spread messages to other countries where these are banned for moral, religious or political reasons. As for the U.S. perspective, many Americans dislike attempts by other jurisdictions to extend their personal jurisdiction to American defendants whose alleged defamatory speech acts occurred over the Internet and were not targeted only towards those jurisdictions.

Religion and America

Religion, especially in its more conservative or fundamentalist forms, is stronger in America than in much of the rest of the Western world. People who fear or dislike religious extremism, conservatism, or religion in general may have anti-American attitudes as a result.

Some resent hearing Americans preach a perceived American moral superiority over the rest of the world. They reject the vision of American leaders who consider the role of the United States of America to be responsible for defending the world from "Evil," and strongly disapprove of such initiatives as "Project for the New American Century." Further concern is generated by the US Congress's adoption of a day of prayer for the protection of America and its soldiers against terrorism. These policies question the separation of church and state, causing some to view President Bush as leading a religious crusade. Proponents of separation of church and state cite evidence of this hypocritical behavior over the years, such as the national motto In God We Trust or the addition of "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance, and would favor a more rigid separation.

During the Clinton administration, the United States government repeatedly alleged that some of its European allies, such as France and Germany, did not respect freedom of religion by unfairly discriminating against some minority religions, such as the Church of Scientology, and pressured the government of those countries to adopt different rules. Those countries consider that some of these religions are not bona fide religions, but rather cults with criminal activities; in those countries, the Church of Scientology is widely considered a mafia-like organization practicing extortion from its members and influence peddling with politicians. The American pressures were widely criticized in Europe as unwarranted and uninformed meddling of the American government into the internal affairs of independent countries. Since the coming of the Bush administration, American criticism on those issues has largely receded.

In contrast, people from cultures that have still stronger religious beliefs, Islamic cultures in particular, find offensive the notion of a country of religious tolerance and diversity, with an official separation of church and state.

Worldwide, some in the Catholic Church consider American popular culture opposed to Catholic values. Further, the preaching of religious ideologies founded in the United States, such as Christian Fundamentalism, Jehovah's Witness and Mormonism in traditionally Catholic lands add weight to these feelings.

English language

The prominence of English language around the world is seen as a mark of cultural colonization by Americans (with other countries of the Anglosphere playing a role). English is used for communication among people of different languages (and even sometimes among people of the same language). Thus, native English speakers do not have to learn other languages, saving effort and expense, and those who can't speak English are disadvantaged no matter how qualified they are otherwise. The issue of whether English should become the sole official language of the European Union raises vocal opposition, since it is spoken natively only by an eighth of Europeans in the EU; a majority of Europeans do not speak English at all, but it is the most widely taught second language in the EU. There are those who feel that adopting English would mean imposing American domination on a part of the European identity.

In Wikipedia itself, the followers of Enciclopedia Libre chose to work independently of the Spanish language Wikipedia since they perceived that English language Wikipedia was given unfair preponderance.

American popular culture

Popular culture — contemporary music, films, books, advertising, web sites and other computer-based media, and especially television — is America's most visible and one of its most pervasive exports. There is an enormous American "trade surplus" in cultural matters. In countries without strong cultural protection laws, American music, films, and television programs appear far more frequently than other countries' music, films, and television programs appear in the United States. The home-grown film industries in at least some countries (such as Australia) were bought out and closed down by American interests. The United States has a history of using "free trade" negotiations to open up foreign markets to its cultural products. Many in the US, as well as non-Americans, fear the growing Americanization of the world.

In many countries, such media carry a large body of material that embodies values considerably different from those of much of the viewing public. Some find that most American dramatic narratives were overly violent, hypocritical about sex (combining prudery and exploitation), and portrayed simplistic attitudes to good and evil.

Another concern is the sheer volume of American cultural export, irrespective of any specific concerns with content, which has profound homogenizing effects on societies, limiting opportunities for diverse and original perspectives. Many contend that the market for films and television programs is an uneven playing field; for instance, foreign movies are less frequently imported into the US for show in major theater circuits than imports are shown in other Western countries. Some Americans answer that this was a sign of the high quality of American movies with respect to movies from other countries, and that Americans are not interested in seeing unknown foreign actors in movies, or movies with a foreign language. Such explanations are often considered a sign of arrogance, exceptionalism and provincialism on the part of the United States.

Meanwhile, other societies, notably Islamic societies see popular Western culture, and popular American culture above all, as propaganda for a secular, sexually, and socially libertine society. As such, they also object to American values portrayed in popular culture. In other societies some find American culture to be too prudish.

Some non-Americans see trade barriers as a means of protecting their cultures, and view America's lobbying to remove them as insensitivity to this and as cultural imperialism. Many believe that America's political and business establishment viewed culture as a commodity to be freely traded just like any other.

At least in part because popular culture products have become such a significant export industry for the United States, the United States has been steadily increasing the restrictiveness of its copyright laws to help support its entertainment industry at the expense of several previously protected rights. Examples include enforcing the use of DVD region coding to restrict the import of DVDs from foreign markets (permitted by "first sale" doctrine) or the use of "copy prevention" techniques on compact discs to prevent music from being converted to other formats for use by the CD's owner. There has been significant pressure on other nations to do likewise, to such an extent that in January 2002 the U.S. imposed punitive economic sanctions on Ukraine because they failed to pass stricter domestic copyright laws. China, on the other hand, continued to retain most-favored-nation trading status despite being widely recognized as the largest center of intellectual property violation in the world. See also: WIPO, Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act

In the summer of 2004, the German franchises of the Subway sandwich chain, in co-promotion with the film Super Size Me, included tray liners with an image of a fat Statue of Liberty, and the caption, "Warum sind die Amis so fett?" ("Why are Americans so fat?") The implication was that Americans are, in general, overweight because they eat too much fast food.

Perceived American arrogance

The American media, educational system, and politicians often tout the real or supposed merits of their country as unique. Although in American debate other nations are often held up by various groups as better embodying certain values the Americans cherish, cultures or lifestyles of other countries are also often derided, and non-Americans often perceive American attitudes on this point as arrogant.

One recent instance was the response in U.S. media opinion forums to certain nations' strong opposition to the US-led invasion of Iraq. Harshly critical words in opinion pieces appearing even in first class U.S. media, primarily directed against France and the French president Jacques Chirac, was by many foreign observers perceived as a joint campaign by the US government and the US mass media to express aggressive attitudes, biased reporting, and counterfactual hate speech against those nations whose public opinions voiced their opposition to the proposed war and against their governments. [1][2] This influenced the perception of American media, and Americans, in allied countries, including those that were not the subject of such criticism. The emphasis on freedom of the press, perceived to be frequently expressed by Americans as a guarantee for a working democracy, seemed by foreign observers not to be met by the factual conditions. (In fact, however, not only did many non-mainstream media outlets strongly and consistently oppose the war, but America's leading newspaper, the New York Times, editorialized strongly against going to war right up to its onset.)

The previous year, at the height of the general election campaigns in allied Germany, chancellor Gerhard Schröder was the first major European leader to warn against attacking Iraq, vowing that if he was to be re-elected, no Germans would participate, with or without a UN Security Council mandate; after which the American government unabashedly expressed their support for the opposition. When the German minister of justice Herta Däubler-Gmelin argued in an election speech that Bush was distracting from domestic concerns by focusing on foreign policy, she reportedly remarked (a distortion of what she actually said) that that was a strategy Germans knew from the times of Adolf Hitler, a comparison observers on both sides of the Atlantic considered inflammatory, the U.S. government pushed for her removal from office. After the elections, the U.S. requested that Germany participate in the war in Iraq, which was perceived by many as in violation of Germany's constitution's prohibition against wars of aggression (Article 26), although whether this war constituted aggression is disputed. As this stipulation was created by the Allied victors after World War II, and as the U.S. was perceived as having been its leading proponent, the supposed change in position and perceived disrespect for an allied democracy's constitution and election process caused some consternation in Germany. Public opinion in one of the more pro-American nations of the world thus shifted somewhat in an anti-American direction.

Americans are often perceived as astonishingly proud of their standard of living, compared to other western countries; of their country's achievements in the fields of international science and business; and for their allegiance to at least some of the ideals of the founders of the country, now often taken for granted in most of the industrialized world, such as freedom and equal justice under the law. Some say that American patriotism was the first patriotism founded on a set of political ideals, rather than on nationalism or ethnicity, although the examples of the ancient Romans or the Swiss may challenge this point. Patriotism in the US often appears offensively arrogant to people from the rest of the world. For example, public persons in America frequently assert America being "the greatest nation that has ever existed on the face of the Earth"; such superlatives may be understood as either diminishing and disparaging the standing of other nations, or as an ignorance that is hard to believe from prominent Americans. While patriotism and nationalism to different degrees exist all throughout the world, no other nation has been as successful, through the modern mass media, in the wholesale export of this view that easily is perceived as less than flattering by international consumers of CNN and Hollywood motion picture productions.

Emphasis on the military in American popular culture also generates opposition in other countries. The United States has not seen an international war on its home soil since 1812, and while most of the planet has been affected by wars in the twentieth century, the US has been spared invasion. This has led to an increasingly popular view across the world that Americans have no understanding of the truth of war, and that American culture, which romanticises and glamourises war, encourages nationalistic and militaristic views which were abandoned long ago in other nations which have actually experienced war on their own soil. In Europe, frequent comparisons are made between militaristic American society and the equally militant Third Reich, and the arrogantly patriotic societies of nineteenth-century European colonial empires (societies which are now a cause of shame to some modern Europeans). Anti-American sentiments are further enflamed by the fact that the USA has the ability to blackmail the planet with its vast arsenal of nuclear weapons and the immense strength of the US Army, Navy, and Air Force. In Great Britain, a simple comparison is frequently made to demonstrate US military arrogance – a single B-52 Stratofortress costs more than the entire United Nations budget for a whole year.

Perceived American ignorance

Many, especially in Europe and Canada, contend that the American public are generally ignorant of international issues and lack basic historical, geographical, and cultural knowledge of the world outside of the United States. A 2002 study made for National Geographic showed that "US young adults are lagging" in their geographical knowledge compared to young adults in other developed countries. Many contend that such ignorance is reinforced by the Americentrist coverage of American media, and by the emphasis given in America's educational system and media to American issues and the benefits of living in America, while failing to mention that often, all of these benefits exist in other modern democratic countries. Some countries even have more benefits than Americans, for example publicly funded healthcare. Few Americans hold passports and travel abroad in comparison to their European counterparts. It is argued that international travel is too expensive and inconvenient for most Americans and that someone vacationing within the borders of the United States can experience just as much diversity of climate and terrain as elsewhere. Some non-Americans contend that while this is true, it means that Americans are not exposed to international culture in the same way as people of many other nationalities.

The vast majority of Americans are monolingual, while many Europeans speak one or two more languages in addition to their native tongue, and many Japanese have at least a fundamental knowledge of English. This is another factor that makes outsiders see Americans as ignorant.

It has also been reported that American tourists behave disrespectfully, and as customers seem too demanding, no doubt following the proverb "the customer is always right." The behaviour of Americans in European nations is often the subject of ridicule, as many Europeans perceive American citizens as brash, arrogant, and uncaring about global issues. Many Europeans perceive U.S. foreign policy as pursuing nineteenth-century-style imperialism. Events such as the US withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocols, US arrogance at the United Nations, convince many people across the world that Americans have no interest or understanding of issues that do not affect them directly. An increasing number of people across the planet criticise the United States for doing nothing to end conflicts in Africa, Asia, and the Balkans, whilst at the same time arrogantly demanding worldwide assistance in a war directly involving US economic interests in Iraq.

America and the environment

The American way of life is regarded by environmentalists as wasteful and environmentally irresponsible. Americans have the highest per-capita consumption of resources and energy in the world, and the fact that the U.S. government does not take decisive action to curb this use creates hostility. For instance, statistics show that the four percent of the world's population that live within the United States creates 25 percent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions, and allegedly overutilize fuel-inefficient automobiles. Critics point out that the United States uses significantly more resources per capita than even other industrialized countries who nonetheless maintain a similarly high, and in a number of cases higher, standard of living.

In reply to these allegations it is said that the United States does have stringent environmental laws which, unlike those in many countries, are actually enforced; that America itself produces a great many of the items it consumes, and that America pays for the resources it imports. Some Americans also point out that the United States is one of the world's leaders in protecting environmental areas with its National Park Service, and in fact the country invented the concept of a national park. Others point out that the United States is far less densely populated than many other industrialized countries, making cars a more important method of transportation.

In 1997, the U.S. Senate voted 95–0 against ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, declining to sign a protocol that "would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States" and would not impose similar binding targets for limiting or reducing greenhouse gases on developing nations such as the People's Republic of China (second in emissions), which are presently exempted. (The Protocol has been signed and will be ratified by all sizeable economic powers except the USA and Australia.) This refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol is often quoted as an example of America's irresponsibility in this area.

By country

In Brazil

Anti-Americanism in Brazil can be traced partly to the military coup d'état against democratically elected President João Goulart of 1964, which was backed by the CIA and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson and which resulted in the murder, torture and exile of thousands of Brazilians. As in Spain under Franco, a large part of the opposition to the dictatorship in Brazil was formed by leftists (some of them with strong relations to Cuba).

The Free Trade Area of the Americas proposal is nowadays one of the major reasons for the current Anti-Americanism as many Brazilians, ignoring the alleged potential economic benefits of this proposal for Brazil, see it as evidence of American imperialism which supposedly wants to unindustrialize Brazil.

The International Monetary Fund's so-called "Conditionalities" and the loan interests that have to be paid afterwards also reinforces the Anti-Americanism in Brazil due to the popular conception that the IMF is controlled by the United States and used by them to retard the development of poorer countries.

In the early 2000s, there was a rumour (mostly on the Internet) in Brazil that American schools were teaching that the Amazon Rainforest would be converted into an internationally administrated region. This rumour was proved unfounded later, but many people still believe it is part of an American plan to dominate the region.

Many Brazilians (like other Latin American countries) also resent the use of the words "American" and "America" to refer respectively to the US-born people and to the USA (as a country). They prefer the words "Estadunidense" (meaning "Unitedstatesian") and "Norte-Americano" (meaning North American) when referring to a person born in the United States; and the name "Estados Unidos" (meaning United States) for referring to the USA.

In Canada

In Canada, Anti-American sentiment first developed during the American Revolution. French Canadians felt that the mainly Protestant thirteen colonies would never recognize French culture and Catholic religion, and Aboriginal groups feared the loss of the protection they had been granted through treaties with Britain. When the rebelling colonies tried to invade Quebec and "liberate" their neighbors by force, many Canadians began to think Americans were arrogant, violent, and dangerous. These feelings were only reinforced by the sudden migration of thousands of United Empire Loyalists from the thirteen colonies.

During the War of 1812, Canadians' fears were suddenly realized when an American force invaded Upper Canada. Many people died, and to this day many Canadians feel the Americans really lost the war, but are too proud to admit they could ever lose to Canada (even though the US was fighting against Britain, and Canada as a distinct identity did not exist).

In fact, the American threat was one of the reasons that Canada was formed in 1867. After many attacks against Canada by the Fenian Brotherhood stationed in the US, and the expansion of the US westwards, Canadian and British authorities felt their land was threatened. These fears were not unfounded as the American government was pursuing a program of Manifest Destiny, and wished to spread their democratic values to their neighbors to the north. Since Confederation, Canadians have never forgotten the American threat to Canadian culture.

A feeling of companionship with the US arose during World War I and World War II that brought Canada and the US closer together politically and economically. The formation of NATO, NORAD, and NAFTA cemented this relationship.

Today, few Canadians would consider themselves "Anti-American", but more might call themselves anti-American-government, although Canadians jokingly refer to the supposed ignorance of Americans about foreign culture, especially Canada. Many Canadians have more liberal attitudes than most Americans, and it is little surprise that they consider American views on the welfare state, feminism, abortion, capital punishment, relations with Cuba, the environment, same-sex rights, the war on drugs, immigration, the "Star Wars" program, and the war in Iraq as either extremely conservative, or an overreaction.

Canada and the US have also argued incessantly over economic issues such as the soft-wood lumber trade issue, where a large tariff is imposed on Canadian manufacturers- with no regard to the NAFTA regulaions that prohibit the tariffs. Another issue is the Alberta beef / mad cow case, where the US has stopped the import of beef because of cases of mad cow, and is slow to reopen the border.

In Spain

Some early examples of anti-Americanism in Spain took place during the Spanish-American War. The sinking of USS Maine was seen as an accident or even provoked to provide an excuse for the war. Spanish press promoted the view that America was a "land of lard sellers", no match for Spanish caballeros. The war ended with the Spanish defeat and the transfer of the last remains of the Spanish Empire. This defeat didn't lead to a last anti-Americanism but to self-criticism about the causes of national decay (Generation of '98).

During the Second World War, the government of General Franco supported the Axis and was opposed to Jews and Freemasons. However as the Axis was losing, the Spanish orientation changed to neutrality and later friendship with America on the basis of common anti-Communism. However, economically-depressed Spain was not admitted to the Marshall Plan. The film censure authorized the comedy Bienvenido Míster Marshall (1953) that expressed the mixed feelings of admiration, fear, and disappointment of Spaniards towards America.

During the 60s and the 70s, the democratic opposition to the dictatorship was often leftist and viewed America as a supporter of Franco. Solidarity with the communist movements in Latin America also contributed to anti-Americanism.

Spain joined NATO in 1982, and voted by referendum in March 1986 to remain part of the alliance. Meanwhile, José María Aznar reorganized Spanish conservatives into a new party, the People's Party (Partido Popular or PP), moving to the political center by embracing economic liberalism without attacking the welfare state.

During the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq in the 2000s, the support given by the government of José María Aznar to George W. Bush's foreign policies has reawakened anti-American feeling on the left.

After the 11 March 2004 Madrid attacks, the PSOE won the election. This Government brought home the 1300 Spanish troops in Iraq and approached left-wing leaders such as Fidel Castro or the President of Venezuela Hugo Chávez.

In Europe

In the European Union, there are some suspicions that the Americans are trying to dilute the unity and the cohesion of the EU, whether politically, economically or culturally, so as to reduce the threat to the U.S's economic, cultural and political influence in the world. In 2005, the Americans tried to get nations like Britain to oppose the EU uplifting of the ban on selling weapons to China. In recent years, the United States also encouraged former Soviet and Eastern Bloc republics into its strategic fold. In 2004, the American government openly supported Victor Yuschenko during the 2004 Ukrainian Presidential Election. In early 2005, President George W. Bush visited Slovakia amid a popular reception. During the U.S.-Iraq War of 2003, most former Soviet and Eastern Bloc countries officially supported the U.S.'s stand on the war.

Even in erstwhile ally Britain, opposition to the United States is widespread. Despite the Labour government's participation in the war in Iraq, support for the war and for President George W. Bush is extremely low in the UK. Media outlets frequently mock the President, who is portrayed as half-witted and buffoonish. Opposition to the war in the UK is strong, as is opposition to US economic hegemony.

In China and Taiwan

In China, anti-American sentiment brewed largely from what the Chinese believe to be the interference of the internal affairs of their own country. Despite acknowledgement of the "One China" principle and that Taiwan is a part of China by the U.S., the Americans produced a new law called the Taiwan Relations Act, which permits the U.S. to provide defensive weapons to Taiwan after official diplomatic relations had been established between China and the U.S. in 1979. Observers have noted that the U.S. is making use of Taiwan as a counterweight to China and under the guise of maintaining the peace on the straits, is trying to separate Taiwan from China permanently.

In Taiwan, some blamed the U.S. for support of Chiang Kai Shek and Chiang Ching-Kuo's rule on the island and abetting Taiwanese independence activists. Some had also blamed the U.S. for forcing Taiwan to buy military weapons from them at a high price and for supporting the kind of democracy that Taiwan is now practising and had allowed Hitler and the Nazis to come to power. Others criticised the U.S. for deliberately ignoring the vote-buying and vote-rigging (such as the 3–19 incident in 2004 Taiwan Presidential Election) that occured during elections in Taiwan while praising Taiwan's transition to democracy.

Some also believed that U.S. support for Japan to be a member of the U.N. Permanent Security Council was just another strategy to contain China.

In Japan

Much criticism of the U.S.'s involvement in Japan stems from World War II, which ended with a U.S. occupation of the country. Many have suggested that the Americans, in order to find a subservient ally to counterbalance the rise of Communism in China and North Korea, and the rise of the influence of the Soviet Union, decided not to prosecute Japan's Emperor and dismantle the monarchy. Instead, they sought to transform Japan into a constitutional monarchy such as Great Britain.

The Americans had also long given financial aid to the right-wing Liberal Democratic Party, the governing party for most of Japan's post-war history. Many observers have claimed that Americans have been using Japan's right wing, of whom some were responsible for the visits to the Yasakuni Shrine and the gloss over of Japan's wartime atrocities in the school history textbooks, to counterbalance the Chinese.

In Japan, there are also questions about the U.S.-Japan alliance. Left-wingers in Japan point out the unsavory incidents involving American troops and how Japan is frequently bullied in international trade by the U.S. These same people also oppose Japan's pro-U.S. orientation in foreign policy and advocate closer relations with the rest of Asia. They also oppose Japan being in the nuclear umbrella of the U.S. and advocate demilitarisation. In contrast, extreme rightists want Japan to be militarised and have nuclear weapons of its own.

In Korea

In South Korea, some had also questioned the U.S.'s hardline policy on North Korea and the ongoing military alliance with the Americans. A number of unsavory incidents caused by American troops stationed in the country had contributed to this sentiment. Some had also questioned America's alliance with Japan and America's tolerance of, and use of, Japan's right wing. Some had also blamed the U.S. for being a supporter of Syngman Rhee, Park Chung Hee and Chun Doo Hwan.

Elsewhere in Asia

In Indonesia, both the democratic and Islamist opposition to Suharto's regime saw the U.S. as the supporter of Suharto's rule.

In the Philippines, the democratic and Islamist opposition to Ferdinand Marcos's rule also saw the U.S. as the supporter of Marco's rule. Shortly after Corazon Aquino took office, the Philippines asked American troops to leave Subic Bay. The Americans eventually went to Singapore for a while.

In Thailand, it is not a secret that the U.S had also covertly supported military regimes from the 1960s to the 1980s so as to use the supporters of these military governments to contain the 3 Indochinese states of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

In India and Pakistan, there are realisations that the U.S, while promoting peace in South Asia, at the same time sells weapons to both countries, possibly trying to precipitate an arms race, crippling the economies of both nations and causing distrust between both countries. By doing this the U.S. government may hope that neither India nor Pakistan could rival America's influence.

In Iran, part of the anti-American sentiment is due to U.S. support of the Shah Reza Palhavi, who was overthrown in the Islamic revolution of 1979.

As in Europe, in Asia the Americans are widely believed to have employed a campaign of divide and rule. Part of the anti-American sentiment in Asia is due to the belief that the Americans, by using Japan and Taiwan, are trying to prevent the emergence of a more united Asian bloc.

See also


  • Anti-Americanism by Jean-Francois Revel
  • Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire by Chalmers Johnson
  • Anti-Americanism by Paul Hollander
  • Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies by Ian Buruma, Avishai Margalit

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