US Politics

USA Oui! Bush Non!

The Nation’s Eric Alterman has written a rather witty account of the myths concerning European anti-Americanism enstrangement. It’s a bit like the Timothy Garton Ash piece – but written looking at the Eiffel Tower instead of the Empire State building. And it’s a bit more fun to read.

One of the most surprising things he says is that for him, even these days, Europe is the cooler America. He even (somewhat) denies that there is real Anti-Americanism in Europe –

“You can tell a lot about a continent by the way it reacts to Bruce Springsteen. Tonight, at the Bercy Stadium, the typically multigenerational, sold-out Springsteen audience could be from Anytown, USA. […] You can’t be anti-American if you love Bruce Springsteen. You can criticize America. You can march against America’s actions in the world. You can take issue with the policies of its unelected, unusually aggressive and unthinking Administration, and you can even get annoyed with its ubiquitous cultural and commercial presence in your life. But you can’t be anti-American.”

– and –

“What most Europeans seem to recognize is that this is a big, beautiful and damn complicated country. For every George Bush, we have a Spike Lee. For every Charlton Heston, we have a Paul Newman. For every Lee Greenwood, there’s a Lauryn Hill or a Wynton Marsalis.”

However, he draws the same conclusion regarding the American political and social divide as Garton Ash and so many other do these days. And he cites an article from “Le Monde Diplomatique” sharing my opinion that “old” Europe might have even gone along with a US led invasion of Iraq had the case been made by Bill Clinton instead of W

“It’s not as if Europeans can’t stand the idea of a conservative Republican President. To a surprising degree, they warmed to Ronald Reagan, as Alain Frachon, who writes about foreign affairs on the editorial page of Le Monde, explains. ‘When Reagan was President, we never had the impression he was motivated by fundamentalism. He was divorced. He had worked in Hollywood. But this George Bush is totally foreign to us. He quotes the Bible every two or three sentences. He is surrounded by Christian fundamentalists. He says he has no problem sleeping after sending someone to death. There was a dose of charm, humor, of Hollywood to Reagan. But not to Bush. It’s another world and one we find extraordinarily hypocritical. No one told us that the Republicans had moved this far to the right.’ Things were quite different under Bill Clinton. As Serge Halimi, the leftist editor of Le Monde diplomatique, the publication that is frequently accused of being the intellectual home of the anti-American worldview, argues, ‘The hostility to US policy would be lessened with Clinton in the White House, even assuming that these policies were exactly the same as Bush’s.'”

And just as I do, Mr Alterman believes there is hope for the eagle and the weasel –

“There is a pro-American world out there, in Europe in particular but elsewhere as well. It is just waiting for an America it can respect as well as admire. For all the intentional insults this Administration has thrown their way, our European well-wishers have not given up on what’s best in us, no matter how often they feel forced to voice their frustration with the leaders our fundamentally flawed political system presents them with.” (emphasis added)

But there is one thing in the article which, I think, is not exactly true, and which some people in the British Tory party will find clearly insulting –

“Even most of the conservative parties in Europe are to the left of the Democrats in [America].”

Oh my, should Ian Duncan Smith read this he will make them shift even further to the right…