's Forum Archives - Non-Cycling Discussions

Archive Home >> Non-Cycling Discussions(1 2 3 4 )

'Do as we say, not as we do' - article(8 posts)

'Do as we say, not as we do' - articleMJ
May 27, 2002 5:51 AM,7369,722887,00.html

Do as we say, not as we do

Before criticising US foreign policy, Europeans should look at the actions of their own states

Gary Younge
Monday May 27, 2002
The Guardian

There is nothing so pathetic as the powerful claiming victimhood. White South Africans who bleat about affirmative action, as though apartheid represented a meritocracy, are to be pitied as well as pilloried. Business leaders who award themselves exponential pay hikes, only to carp about the damaging effects of the minimum wage, warrant condemnation but need counselling.
So it is with the White House administration, which comes over crestfallen and confused at the hostile reception that President George Bush receives in Europe. America's displeasure provokes exasperation but deserves an explanation.

One can understand why Bush might be a little confused. He has landed in a continent supposedly full of allies and signed a nuclear arms treaty with a former adversary. Yet almost everywhere he goes he finds diplomatic tension and demonstrators in the streets. He wanders the continent looking a bit like Ernest Harrowden in The Picture of Dorian Gray, whom Oscar Wilde describes as "one of those middle-aged mediocrities, who have no enemies, but are thoroughly disliked by their friends".

The source of the antagonism towards America is not difficult to divine. Not content with reneging on treaties it doesn't like, threatening countries it doesn't like and ignoring objections to policies it does like, the Bush administration wonders why the rest of the world does not seem to like it.

After September 11 commentators opined that America had lost its innocence. Well, it looks like they have finally got it back again.

But spend a week immersed in the American media and it soon becomes apparent that the rift goes beyond the diplomatic to the popular. Listening to the phone-ins and watching the talk-shows, the phonetics are familiar but in all other respects - political, cultural, strategic - the language is completely foreign.

Opinion polls suggest that two strands of thought dominate on each side of the Atlantic.

The general feeling in the US is that Europe has scapegoated them for taking the lead in fighting terrorism; Europeans, by and large, believe America has sidelined them and is taking their support for granted.

Recent wobbles notwithstanding, Bush's approval at home remains enormous. But only the Italians, among Europe's larger nations, rate him favourably. While Americans interpret the attacks on the World Trade Centre as an assault on the principles of democracy and liberty, a majority in Europe believe the assault was aimed at the United States, not the western world.

In certain countries more objectionable expressions of opposition can be found. A few days after September 11, 30% of Greeks thought the attacks were justified. In France, Leffroyable Imposture, a book which suggests that September 11 was staged by a wing of the US military to justify taking over Afghanistan, is a bestseller.

Visceral anti-American attitudes undoubtedly exist in Europe - a mixture of post-colonial snobbishness and ultra-left simplicity - but for the most part they remain unrepresentative.

If George Bush wishes to claim victimhood for himself or his nation he will have to stand at the back of a very long line. The horrific events of September 11 gave Americans a taste of the world's pain; it did not give them a monopoly on suffering.

The truth is, so long as Bush pushes ahead with this mindless, murderous military campaign and a world trade regime which discriminates against the poor and undermines democracy, he will remain a legitimate focus for anti-war and anti-globalisation protests.

Yet opposition to American foreign policy demands introspection in Europe. One of the few hopeful developments to be salvaged from the wreckag
re: Victimhood...jrm
May 27, 2002 3:08 PM
Allows the bush adminstration to act unilaterally. This unilateral aspect of American Foriegn policy is what most in eorope are speaking out against.
re: Victimhood...MJ
May 28, 2002 12:54 AM
it may be another excuse but Bush was unilateralist before victimhood/Sep 11
re: Victimhood...BikeViking
May 28, 2002 5:02 AM
His perception of the "right thing(s) to do" is different than yours. A difference of opinion does not make him a "unilateralist". Especially with the growing sentiment in Europe that 9/11 was our fault, (30% of the Greeks thought so).

THis subject of US "imperialism" gets old. Sorry that he doesn't roll over to European sentiment like Clinton.

THis "alligator" of terrorism cannot be appeased becaue soon it will be "eating" you.
re: Victimhood...MJ
May 28, 2002 5:04 AM
er, I think that's exactly what the article said...

as for the Greeks - who really cares what they think? - they supported Serbia throughout the 1990's - plus they're Greek
re: Victimhood...BikeViking
May 28, 2002 6:23 AM
I would agree partially...he does take Europe to task for its shortcomings, but his US perspective is not kind either. I am willing to accept criticism of the US for the dumb things we do, but the same tired arguments of "unilateral America" are getting old. I don't recall much of this "anti-Americanism" under that "other" President. Clinton signed Kyoto, but did nothing to support it because he even knew it was a bum steer. He just didn't have the guts to not sign it. He played the political game VEYR well. We can debate Kyoto all day, but Clinton was a bit disingenuous when he signed it.

To be fair, Bush has done the same thing, campaign finance reform comes to mind. He swore up and down that such a bill had to meet his criteria before he would sign it. It met almost none of them, but he signed it anyway to not look like an "obstacle to reform". I think he's still gun shy about the 2000 election, even though EVERY recount shows he would have won anyway.

Politicians are a sorry lot!

I REALLY digressed on this, didn't I...oops
re: Victimhood...MJ
May 28, 2002 6:41 AM
you're right - he takes Europe to task - and basically says if you disagree (Europe) with the US then have the balls to do something about it and be pro-active - otherwise you just sound like a bunch of whining children who've been lectured to by your parents...

Clinton wasn't as unilateral as Bush is which is why there's more Euro-whining now - and even when Clinton was unilateralist he played the game better - if for no other reason than because he is/was smart and sophisticated enough to do business outside the (narrow) US mindset and frame of reference - which Bush is not
re: Yes but...jrm
May 30, 2002 1:26 PM
Not before declaring a war on terrorism including ANY country or individual that harbors "e-vil". It pissed off the EU when his father practiced it, why should it work now. Cant they seem to finger out that the world is alot different now then it was then.