Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Anti-Americanism Is Nothing New

Last night I decided to watch the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, just to see what his show would be like on the anniversary of 9/11. (For some reason I am more interested in the way that comedic entertainers such as Stewart and Leno handle the 9/11 anniversary than I am with dedicated news programs. I suppose it is because their task is harder--trying to make us laugh while at the same time being respectful.) All in all, it was a fine show. The monologue was subdued but typical, with a brief mention of 9/11 at the beginning. His now famous headlines bit was as entertaining as ever. And the choice of his three guests (James Woods, Charlie Rose, and the "singing cop" Daniel Rodriguez) was very appropriate.

One thing did catch my attention, however. While interviewing Charlie Rose, the two remembered how a French newspaper ran with the headline, "Today we are all Americans," or something similar the day after 9/11. Leno asked Rose what had happened to that feeling worldwide. Rose answered immediately, "Iraq happened."


It is such a seductive line that I fear so many accept it without thinking about it. But the truth is the feeling that "America is the problem" was commonplace worldwide long before the second Iraq war and long before 9/11.

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit agrees, linking to an editorial by Anne Applebaum in the UK. Anne writes:
The dislike of America, the hatred for what it was believed to stand for – capitalism, globalisation, militarism, Zionism, Hollywood or McDonald's, depending on your point of view – was well entrenched. To put it differently, the scorn now widely felt in Britain and across Europe for America's "war on terrorism" actually preceded the "war on terrorism" itself. It was already there on September 12 and 13, right out in the open for everyone to see.
One could argue that while anti-American sentiment existed before the second Iraq war, the decision by Bush to remove Saddam Hussein from power increased that sentiment. There is of course some truth to that and the degree to which that occurred and whether the cost was worth it is a matter of interesting debate.

But for many that isn't enough. Bush wasn't just a small part of a bigger problem--he has to be the entire cause. Everything has to have been rosy and bright before he came along. It is a ridiculous assertion but all too often with Bush detractors the ridiculous is the path of choice.