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Holding America to a Higher Standard

Another reason for Anti-Americanism could be that the United States is held to a higher standard, because US presidents make bigger promises than any European head of state or government.

The mismatch between by the US rhetoric and policies invites harsh criticism. Take for instance this promise from President Bush's second inauguration speech in January 2005:

Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world: All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.

And then look at the US response to the uprising in Burma in autumn 2007. The Bush administration did not stand with the monks. The European governments were not any better, but they did not make big promises about supporting liberty.

Burma is pretty much vanished from the European and American mainstream media coverage. Oh, wait a second, AP just reports that "US First Lady Laura Bush has conferred an award honoring the women of military-ruled Myanmar in their determined battle to restore democracy and human rights in the Southeast Asian state." Awesome. The US has once again shown great leadership. I am sure this award will end tyranny nd bring liberty to Burma.


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John in Michigan, USA on :

So if I may summarize: America and Europe are no different because Europe did nothing for Burma and American did something? All politicians make big promises and fail to deliver. The world is still waiting for Europe's one hour of fame ("The hour of Europe has dawned") or for full implementation of the Kyoto accord. We promised a lot, and delivered a little. You promised a little, and delivered nothing. The amount of disappointment is about the same in each case.

Anonymous on :

"You promised a little," We did not make any promises. Certainly nothing like "All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you." European leaders did not even come a billion kilometers close to such promises.

Joe Noory on :

If America is held up to higher standards, it is becuase it's very hard to hold a non-participating, non-acting entity to any standards at all. Were the EU or any of its' member states to do anything on any scale in the world that didn't patently show itself to be a well-planned charm offensive, there would be something apparent to actually criticise. Frankly, I find the fact that so many people are fixated and disturbed about the United States is a sign of a good thing occuring that since their public in general is incapable of understanding, and showing a confused reaction to, is evidense of a positive impact on the world. The very fact that Europeans survived the last century under the action and protection of outsiders to live long enough to hate us is a sign of that very success. Imagine you had a teenager who hated you, but knowing that they were incredibly unhealthy as an infant, it's hard to detest them in the way they're ungoverned emotions are directed at you, even if you wonder why they have so much anger for someone living in a comfortable home. The polulous states of western Europe [b]are[/b] that teenager.

Anonymous on :

What can a leader do if no-one will follow? As long as the Burmese government has backing from China, sanctions won't have much effect. US action doesn't get much press unless we bomb something - and then it's the US that gets the bad press.

Merkel-2 on :

Got it ! Western world politicians make promises then fail to fulfil their pledges. The direct reason for Burma's conflict is its deteriorating life standard in that SE Asian state. Food and petroleum price raised, but native Burma people live in sheer poverty. They can not afford for their humble life. I guess UN should lift its sanction. Give Burma food and development supports , encourage its economic liberty and improve its democracy. Western world should give up its policy attempting to overthrown Burma's government. radically democracy movements will derail the country's foucs on partisan struggle instead of saving its unstable economy. Politician enjoys making fake gesture for election.another fresh example concerning Canada Halper government.Canada government brag it can provide any help for Sudan DARFUR crisis, but when African Union 's DARFUR mission need helicopters for deployment,Halper government turn away its face to other issue. DARFUR's crisis is owing to resources(esp. water resource) conflicts, The western world dramatize the conflicts as a genocide by khartoum regime. That disinformation campaign make western world keep away from providing supports to DARFUR citizens. I guess the western hegemony thinks financial supports for SUDAN people to develop its infrastructure , establish clean-water faclity will not benefit DARFUR people and only help khartoum regime. I got nothing to say. Like I can not convince Paterson that colonization and slave trade is a crime.Paterson told me that western world colonization in Africa ends salve trade and India people's language (English)legacy is a good choice for native India People. Paterson also told me falkland people have no need to strive for independence because of its life standards high than Argentina people. Argentina government had no rights to claim Marvinas (falkland islands) because of its autarchy governor during 1980s. What I gotta say about all these? Hegemony not exist in geopolitics , it also exist in western media . rooted in someone's mind.

Joe Noory on :

Merkel: I have yet to see anyone suggesting that the slave trade wasn't wrong. I do recall you trying to paint Europeans as unique in their opposition to it (easy thing to do 200 years late), and having had nothing to do with it, while trying to paint the America that admitted to it's flaws on slavery as being eternally wrong on the matter. I'd also note that when one sees people weighing Germany down with the burden of their empirial past, it is nearly never an American. What also needs to be noted that the Americas were a european colony. In the Americas, the general public does not make a religion of dwelling hatred on Europeans for that, nor do we have any delusions about it. More to the point we look back and forward to what we have built out from it. From the ashes of that past, including our own wrongs we find a way to move forward, not remained trapped in out feelings and chained to those roots. This hatred of their own past hegemony over people, and present hegemony over the public global political dialogue, control of the channels of aid beyond any range of involvement, and other "power" that can ber derived by talking is little more than a form of self-loathing by the proxy of detesting America. When I see critics do it, even trying to be subtle about it, it's painful to watch them embarrassing themselves in something they think will benefit humanity. It's actually motivated by a desire to boost ones' profile through words alone. Imagine this: Europeans stop exhibeting open or tacit hostility for one another after a millenium, stop restricting the interaction and trade that kept them poor and is signified by that areas of less than 100km have their own language for lack of contact... they stop doing this, and imagine that finally getting a clue after what they've put the world through makes them experts in civility that humanity ought thank and replicate. Here's a thought: reason humanely, take actual beneficial action instead of trusting the efficacy of a flurry of press releases, and keep moving forward. When something genuine is achieved, then it's time to look back fondly.

Don S on :

"I guess UN should lift its sanction. Give Burma food and development supports , encourage its economic liberty and improve its democracy." Absolutely. Follow the EU's enlightened policy toward Mugabe & Zimbabwe the past few years. Er - how has that worked out? Mugabe's bank accounts in the Caymans are pleasingly plump - but how are the people doing?

franchie on :

"Follow the EU's enlightened policy toward Mugabe & Zimbabwe the past few years." I didn't see that the US wanted so much to get involved there ; beside, this is a former UK colony, and one knows in EU how the Brits are touchy when it comes to their foreign policy

Pat Patterson on :

I believe the British argued the same point while continuing to arm the central government of Nigeria during the Biafran Civil War. Britain felt that they would be able to ameliorate the effects of the war on the civilian population which, I guess, appreciated the effort because only 2-3 million Biafrans died vs the entire population.

Joe Noory on :

How is the UK's inaction America's responsibility?

Anonymous on :

If you want to do something for Burma, put pressure on China, for instance by debating a boycott of the Olympics...

John in Michigan, USA on :

On a more positive note, here is something people and governments on both sides of the Atlantic can do to improve the world human rights situation: [url=]Spread the word about Botswana, the "Switzerland of Africa"[/url].

Don S on :

Absolutely. Botswana, Botswana - I've heard about Botswana somewhere.... Here:'_Detective_Agency_(novel) One of my favorite fiction series is about a lady detective from Botswana named Precious Ramotswe. This series is wildly popular here in the UK, and judging by seems to be pretty popular in the States also. All due respect to the WSJ, but a series like this reaches many more people and leaves a more lasting impression....

Pamela on :

Good point, Joerg. Hypocrisy is the problem. From now on, we should just be straight and tell the rest of the world "Hey, we'll get to you if we can manage it". Everybody would love us then. Of course, if we DID do anything, we'd be hearing the "There goes the hegemonic U.S., thinking it can transform the world in its own image" mantra. It would make no difference whatever. As for your sneering remark about Laura Bush's award - well that's what we're accustomed to from Europe. Sneering.

Don S on :

Afraid I have to agree with Pamela here, Joerg. In dealing with a nation like Myanmar (or other such regime like the much worse North Korea) options are limited. We can: 1) Provide aid as the EU does for Zimbawe. This fattens the bank accounts of Robert Mugabe and the oppressors who work for him but does little if anything to fatten the bellies of the people. Perhaps if the EU were to expand aid from 20 million to 20 billion something might leak through? 2) We can impose economic sanctions, prompting campaigns against the US and 'for' the 'starving' people of Country X. 3) We can set up a nice PR program called 'Food for Oil'. See #1 above for the effects. 4) The US can invade and overthrow the oppressor - when forces become available of course. But - might that be a wee bit counterproductive? Seems to me I've heard a some slight criticism from European sources about this approach when applied elsewhere. "No Blood for Rubies!"? ;) 5) Or we can do what Bush has done. Say 'We're with you', show smuggled videotapes of crackdowns (when available), socially ostracize the offender at the UN (as has been done to the host country at the UN, advocate that the countries in their region vote them off the UN Human Rights Comission. Effectyive stuff like that.

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