So, Why DO “They” Hate Us?

I’ve always wanted to blog extensively on the various reasons as to why Europeans, and a lot of the rest of the world, seem to “hate” the United States. However, since so much has already been written, and much of it better than anything I could offer, I decided that it would be most beneficial to link to a few essential articles rather than re-hash them. After all, that’s one of the benefits of a blog, isn’t it?

But before providing those links (go to the bottom if you just can’t wait!), I’d like to point out that the ongoing investigation into the UN Oil for Food Program has provided evidence of some of the pragmatic reasons as to why the world was against our going into Iraq. The roadblocks set up to block anyone from taking final action were not put up out of any sense of fairness or due process (though the UN and Europe certainly do love “process”), but instead were placed for more selfish reasons.

According to the historian Paul Johnson, George Washington stated that “no nation can be trusted further than it is bound by interest.” (A History of the American People, p. 89) With this in mind, the information coming out of the aforementioned investigation has made it perfectly clear that it was those who most benefited from the corrupt UN Oil-for-Food program – particularly France, Russia and China who are all permanent members on the UN Security Council – who were also the strongest opponents against taking action against Saddam Hussein. While we have heard much about America going to war for oil, the Senate investigation is showing that, in fact, these nations were interested in preventing war for oil. Why? Because it was in their own best interest to do so. Over the years, Hussein earned $21 billion in Oil-for-Food money, but he didn’t keep it all.

According to U.S. officials, the former Iraqi leader spread billions of dollars around the globe, particularly targeting France, Russia and China, all permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.

While diplomats from those three nations deny they were bought off, and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan says he doesn’t believe they were, Saddam’s oil voucher scheme was aimed at ending sanctions, and a CIA report [The Duelfer Report, this link is to the Key Findings (pdf format)] revealed that Saddam was very generous to his friends and supporters.

What Saddam instituted was, essentially, an oil voucher program whereby he gave vouchers to “sympathizers and supporters” who could then sell them and earn “hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars.”

The Bush Administration is constantly criticized for failed diplomacy because it did not effectively “make the case” to our “traditional” allies for war with Iraq. The cleverness of this argument is that it implies that the onus for diplomacy is always on the United States and gives the rest of the world a pass. The natural result is that any diplomatic failure is the fault of America. The possibility of the intransigence of our prospective “allies” is never acknowledged. Thus, the importance of the UN Oil-for-Food investigation is that it is finally exposing the truth. It is not that the Bush Administration wasn’t putting forth a convincing case, it was that these nations simply didn’t want to listen. They had no interest in changing their behavior because they were profiting from the situation as it was and probably believed that, once the sanctions agains Hussein were eventually lifted, they would be in a prime postion to profit even more.

However, Europe is comprised of more than its governments. What explanation can be given for why the general population seems to loathe us so? To answer this question, I recommend the following articles. (Note: some of the linked articles are quite long).

Perhaps the best article, and the only one that needs to be read, is by Bruce Bawer, called Hating America. Two shorter pieces, here and here, (each written by the co-authors of the book Hating America: A History) show that Europe’s loathing of America really is nothing new, while Joshua Levesto’s piece puts forth the theory that Europe is led by the wrong kind of anachronistic politicians who set the example for the general population. In “The Psychology of Appeasement,” Russell A. Berman shows it may go deeper than that. Finally, Victor Davis Hanson has written much that touches on this subject (an index of his columns are here). I’d recommend “Our Weird Way of War,” which shows that our enemies in the Middle East know which Western buttons to push; “Civilizaton vs. Trivia“; which illustrates the idiocy of relativistic outrage; and finally, “Let Europe be Europe“, which is almost self-explanatory.

There are many more, but these few articles are probably enough to illustrate the alternative viewpoint that the diplomatic rift between the U.S. and Europe are not all the fault of America.

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