AMERICA AGAINST THE WORLD by Andrew Kohut

AMERICA AGAINST THE WORLD

How We Are Different and Why We Are Disliked
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Democrats are from Europe; Republicans are from Mars; nobody in the world likes immigrants; and George Bush’s America has a major image problem.

Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, and Pew consultant Stokes describe the results of a worldwide opinion poll involving 91,000 interviews in 50 countries from 2002 to 2005. Anti-American sentiment was widespread before 9/11, they observe, but outside of the Arab world it was generally the minority view; in this regard, they give the sitting president a pass, noting that “strains between the United States and its old allies, and indeed between America and the rest of the world, predated George W. Bush.” Yet in the wake of 9/11, and particularly since the invasion of Iraq, anti-Americanism has become the majority view in most of the world, and throughout Europe America is seen as more dangerous than Iran. The reasons are many, including contempt for the tawdriness of American consumer culture and for the fundamentalist tilt of the government, but there’s more to it than all that: People are tired of hearing how different and superior we are (and Pew polls reveal that the least exceptional Americans believe in American exceptionalism). Canadian scholar Michael Ignatieff enumerates other reasons, all of which figure in the survey results: Majorities across the world despise capital punishment; America’s disregard for the poor; a president they believe attained office unjustly in 2000; a culture that hates the thought of gay marriage but divorces on a dime; and America’s God-obsessed people—and they worry that Americans as a class are greedy, dishonest and violent. Interestingly, Kohut and Stokes note, Democrats are far more likely to hold “European” views than are Republicans—but even they are likely to subscribe to exceptionalism.

A fascinating and troubling index. The good news: The new America is broadly disliked in America, too. Keep your eyes on the polls.

Pub Date: May 9th, 2006
ISBN: 0-8050-7721-9
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Times/Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2006