Peter J. Katzenstein and Robert O. Keohane
Anti-Americanism has a long historical pedigree dating back to the 18th century. Since World War II such sentiment has waxed and waned in various parts of the world. American GI’s were welcomed widely in the 1940s as liberators of a Europe occupied by Nazi Germany, and as protectors of a Europe that felt threatened by the Soviet Union in the 1950s. Yet a few years later “the ugly American” became an object of scorn and derision.2 In the second half of the 1960s the U.S. war in Vietnam became a rallying cry for a powerful anti-war movement that fueled anti-American sentiments in Europe, Latin America and Asia. In the early 1980s mass protests erupted against NATO’s missile deployment plans and the military build-up of the Reagan administration. Recently, intense expressions of anti-American sentiment – both in public opinion polls and in political demonstrations – have been evident around the globe. Anti-Americanism is again front page news, and Americans are perplexed by its global spread.
One way of beginning to think about expressions of negative attitudes is to ask whether they are based on views of “what the United States is” – the fundamental values and attitudes of American society – or “what the United States does” – its policies, particularly its foreign policies. Negative views of what the United States is are less likely to change, as American policy changes, than are negative views of what the United States is doing. People who are negative about the United States itself are more likely to be biased, as we define the term below, than those who are only critical of a set of American policies. It is particularly important, therefore, in an investigation of anti-Americanism to distinguish between is and does, and between opinion and bias. Part of the task of this chapter is to explore this distinction.
This book, however, is not merely an analytical exercise in political science. We study politics because we believe that it matters for human life and happiness and because we think that understanding can improve policy. It is therefore important at the outset to point out some policy implications of the findings that we will describe in detail below.
The findings of this volume suggest that the positions on anti-Americanism of both Left and Right are internally inconsistent. Broadly speaking, the American Left holds that anti-Americanism as measured by polls is what we define below as opinion rather than bias. It is largely a reaction to American policy, and indeed, often a justified reaction. The Left also frequently suggests that anti-Americanism poses a serious long-term problem for U.S. diplomacy, and that right-wing policies that induce it therefore need to be changed. But insofar as anti-Americanism reflects ephemeral opinion, changes in policy should be greeted enthusiastically by those who had earlier expressed negative views toward the United States. The long-term effects of anti-Americanism should therefore be small, unless periods of intense negative opinion lead to significant social movements or enduring institutional change. Conversely, the American Right argues that anti-Americanism reflects a deep bias against the United States: people who hate freedom hate us for what we are. Yet the Right also tends to argue that anti-Americanism can be ignored: if the United States follows effective policies, views will follow. But since the essence of bias is the rejection of information inconsistent with one’s prior view, broadly biased foreign publics should not be expected to change their opinions quickly in response to successes scored by a country that they fear and detest. Both Left and Right need to rethink their positions.
The Left is correct that anti-Americanism, as measured by polls, largely reflects opinion and is closely tied to U.S. policy. The Left worries that much anti-Americanism increasingly expresses a deeper form of negative attitude, which we denote as distrust. The Right overestimates resentment toward American power and hatred of American values; and it overlooks the political salience of the distrust that American action can create. If the Right were correct, anti-Americanism would have risen more sharply in the 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But as Giacomo Chiozza shows in Chapter 4, except for the Middle East the United States remained broadly popular until 2002. This is not to deny that some expressions of anti-Americanism are so distrustful that they verge on bias rather than opinion or distrust based on opposition to American policy. Such bias may be revealed by the reactions of the Greek and French publics, discussed below, to American efforts at tsunami relief.
If the view of the Left on the sources of anti-Americanism seems better-grounded on the whole than that of the Right, the story is different with regard to consequences. The Right is correct that the consequences of anti-American views are more difficult to detect than one would think on the basis of claims made by the Left. There is much to be said for the view (not limited to the Right) that the United States should concentrate on pursuing ethically justified and practically effective policies rather than focusing on anti-Americanism as such. Superficial manifestations of anti-Americanism seem to have few systematic effects on policy. The Right is therefore broadly on target in its claim that insofar as anti-Americanism reflects short-term and volatile opinion rather than long-term institutionalized bias, it does not pose serious problems for American foreign policy.
The key question is whether negative opinion hardens into distrust or even bias. If opinion hardens into distrust as appears to have happened in recent years in Europe, China, and in secular strata in the Arab Middle East, the political consequences for the medium- and long-term could be severe. If America becomes more associated around the world with human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo than with the Statue of Liberty and rock music, anti-Americanism could in the future become an important impediment to a successful United States foreign policy. Many Mideast specialists think that this hardening of anti-American views has accelerated at an alarming rate. Episodic evidence reported in the press confirms these well-informed assessments. “For many Muslims,” Somini Sengupta and Salman Masood report, “Guantánamo stands as a confirmation of the low regard in which they believe the United States holds them. For many non-Muslims, regardless of their feelings toward the United States, it has emerged as a symbol of American hypocrisy.”3 For an Indian cartoonist, lampooning the Bush administration, the simple fact is: “people suspect American intentions. It has nothing to do with being Muslim.”4 Preposterous as it may seem to most Americans, for many the world over, the United States has built in Guantánamo what the French newspaper Le Monde has called a legal monster that undermines trust.
This chapter establishes a framework of concepts and questions that we use throughout this volume to explore the sources and consequences of anti-Americanism. The conceptualization of anti-Americanism that we offer in Section 1 distinguishes among its cognitive, emotional, and normative components. We argue in section 2 that anti-Americanism is heterogeneous and multidimensional. Many of the subsequent papers discuss, in different contexts, the concepts of opinion, distrust and bias that we analyze in Section 3. Indeed, we asked the authors of the chapters on France, Egypt and China to examine reactions to American tsunami relief efforts in January 2005, so that we could compare the public discourses on the American tsunami relief with the comparative polling data that we present in Section 3 of this chapter. The typology of anti-Americanisms in Section 4 is designed, in part, to assist the comparative analyses of France, Egypt, and China in Part III of this book; without accepting it entirely, the authors of those three chapters all make use of it. In our typology, there are four main types, which scale from being less to more deeply experienced. In addition there exist also particularistic and historically sensitive forms of anti-Americanism. In any particular situation we expect anti-Americanism to result from different constellations of the different forms and types that “bleed” into each other in variable constellations that are activated by political entrepreneurs and manipulated through political processes.
We begin with a broad definition of anti-Americanism since the term is used so broadly (and often loosely) in ordinary language. As our analysis continues, we will make a number of distinctions, and develop, in this chapter, a typology of anti-Americanism. In the broadest sense, we view anti-Americanism as a psychological tendency to hold negative views of the United States and of American society in general. Such views draw on cognitive, emotional, and normative elements. Using the language of psychology, anti-Americanism could be viewed as an attitude.5 On further examination, anti-Americanism becomes much more complex than this broad definition suggests. We distinguish below among opinion, bias and distrust, any of which could be reflected in poll results showing “unfavorable” attitudes toward the United States. Bias is the most fundamental form of anti-Americanism, and as we argue in this chapter, bias can be seen as a form of prejudice and studied in similar ways.
Although we begin by defining anti-Americanism as an attitude and therefore take the social-psychological literature seriously, our approach is resolutely political. This emphasis reflects not only our disciplinary competence, but also our view that anti-Americanism can only be understood fully in its political context, as affected by interests and power. Anti-American views, are always contested or at least contestable. They are objects of political struggle. They are often emphasized or de-emphasized by politicians as a result of calculations about how they fit the appeals of a political party or movement, and how they will resonate, at a particular time, with a particular set of potential supporters. To understand both the sources and consequences of anti-Americanism one has to understand the political context that fosters or discourages negative attitudes toward the United States, and that magnifies or minimizes the effects of these attitudes on policy. Our analysis of anti-Americanism thus is fundamentally about politics.
Schemas, Identities, and Norms
Anti-Americanism can have cognitive, emotional, and normative components. A schema is a cognitive structure that relies on specific metaphors, analogies, symbols, and narratives of specific events and general historical developments to make sense of the world.6 A schema performs a number of cognitive functions, including going beyond the information available to fill in missing elements and thus to form a coherent account.7 Schemas make sense of attitudes so that they fit together. Schemas do not necessarily imply bias: on the contrary, they can be based on a coherent worldview based on a reasonable interpretation of available facts. When schemas are well-defined and entrenched, however, they can become hardened. As such, they create enduring distrust or become a systematic bias or prejudice that colors or systematically filters out positive or negative information. John Bowen identifies, in chapter 8, different sorts of schemas operating in France and Indonesia, which vary in their degree of hardness.
Figure 1, which we discuss in section 3 of this chapter, illustrates the relationships we envisage among opinion, distrust, and bias. Systematic bias leads individuals or groups to expect the United States to act perniciously and to interpret the behavior of the U.S. government or of Americans in light of that expectation. But it would be a mistake to infer that unfavorable attitudes about the United States, its policies, Americans and the American way of life are necessarily indicators of a systematic bias or prejudice against the United States that slants all new information in only one, negative direction.
In our conceptualization, the emotional component of anti-Americanism chiefly affects the intensity with which negative assessments are held, and may therefore affect behavior. In Figure 2, discussed in Part 3 of this chapter, the horizontal dimension is emotional: it reflects the degree of fear of the United States felt by a subject. However, our data in general do not enable us to distinguish the effect of emotion on negative assessments of the United States. We focus on the politics of anti-Americanism rather than seeking empirically to disentangle its socio-psychological components.
From a normative standpoint, assessments of the United States can serve as identity markers, or as ways to regulate behavior. As identity markers, they are “double-edged” in that they “bind people to each other and at the same time turn people so bound against others.”8 Identities are a type of social norm that constitute the very actors whose behaviors they regulate. Identities emerge from interactions. Like nationalism, anti-Americanism contains aspects of both instrumental rationality and social construction.9 In situations where positive identities of “self” are hard to come by, the ready availability of a powerful, prosperous, culturally omnipresent “other” can provide a social glue that has broad appeal. Such situations are frequent, for example, in failing states, in societies divided deeply along ethnic, religious, class or other lines, and in polities that are in the process of constructing a new collective identity. In brief, anti-Americanism can be a potent and useful stand-in for otherwise missing symbols of collective identity.
Anti-Americanism also involves norms that regulate behavior. People rationally shape their behavior to fit their expectations of what others will do. What is “normal” is common knowledge in stable societies, and therefore facilitates coordination by independent individuals. These expectations reflect behavioral regularities, which may reflect the effects of events or efforts at persuasion to interpret these events. Over time such behavioral regularities can have powerful conditioning effects that make anti-Americanism no longer open to self-reflection or reasoned dialogue. But norms also constitute the premises of action. They are regulative in prescribing socially appropriate standards of action, and they can also be evaluative in invoking moral standards.10 During the massive demonstrations protesting the imminent U.S. attack on Iraq on February 15, 2003, it would have been socially very inappropriate to hoist and salute the American flag. Burning the flag and effigies of President Bush, on the other hand, were appropriate. What matters in this conception of norm is the collectively held standard of proper behavior which the norm regulates rather than the aggregation of individual behavior that make up the norm. Behavioral compliance with a norm is therefore linked to the justifications proffered, be it in social or moral terms. The norms associated with anti-Americanism are components of political processes that generate standards of behavior.
Differentiating among schema, identity, and norm suggests a second distinction. Anti-Americanism can be a matter of individual attitudes as revealed in public opinion polls, as analyzed by Pierangelo Isernia in chapter 3 and Giacomo Chiozza in chapter 4. But it is also a matter of collectively held beliefs with distinctive genealogies. Such beliefs can take the form of narrative collective memories analyzed in different ways by David Kennedy in chapter 2 and Bowen in chapter 8. Whether viewed as individual attitudes or collective beliefs, anti-Americanism can be experienced with different emotional intensity.
Anti-American individual attitudes and collective beliefs are dynamic. They wax and wane over time, as people adapt their behavior to new situations. As attitudes and beliefs change, people become more or less susceptible to specific acts of persuasion, defined here as the use of argument to influence the actions of others, without using bribes or threatening force. Persuasion can occur through schemas, emotional appeals, or norms. Human beings do not carry in their heads fully developed, consistent and articulated views of the world. As a result, how problems are “framed” is often critical for belief-driven action in politics.11 Emotional appeals are often significant, particularly in collective settings. Finally, persuasive appeals can be made on the basis of norms -- of identity, which involves “mutually constructed and evolving images of self and other,” or of standards of appropriate behavior invoked by norms regulating social or moral conduct.12
Anti-American views can exist in politically visible form over periods of decades, even centuries, as in the case of France. In political settings where anti-Americanism has been part of a public discourse, it operates as a collective frame that is readily deployed to mobilize people to take political actions. At other times such views incubate for long periods of time out of sight, only to reappear in new forms to the surprise of everyone. At still other times anti-American views can explode and disappear rapidly without leaving any tracks. In all such situations anti-American views are often manipulated by political entrepreneurs, for their own political benefits, top-down. But they are also validated, bottom-up, by popular conventions or memories that are not necessarily institutionalized.
Nothing in this discussion of schemas, identities and norms is mean to deprecate the role of reflection and analysis in people’s views of the United States. We may rely on schemas which incorporate emotional reactions, individual judgments, or persuasive arguments. We do not prejudge the complex factors that make particular schemas compelling. To do so would require careful psychological analysis, applied to particular individuals and groups. What we do insist on is that anti-Americanism is not an unintelligible pathology in an otherwise intelligible world. It appears so only if we trap ourselves into projecting what appears as rational and normal in America onto other societies or other historical eras.
Multidimensionality and Ambivalence
The simplest way to view anti-Americanism is as a set of attitudes, as measured by results of public opinion polls, or content analyses of discourses, that express negative views toward the United States or toward Americans. Three consistent and now-standard results follow.
First, until shortly before the invasion of Iraq, many more respondents worldwide had favorable opinions of the United States than unfavorable. As we noted above, in the Pew 2002 poll, pluralities in 35 of 42 countries expressed favorable views. This changed dramatically in 2003 and 2004. Second, the societies most hostile to the United States, by far, are located in the Islamic Middle East and North African, along with Pakistan. Finally, in both Islamic countries and Europe, attitudes toward Americans are more positive than attitudes toward the United States, and attitudes toward the United States are more positive than attitudes toward American foreign policy or President Bush. In a 2002 Zogby poll conducted in a number of Islamic countries the average of favorable opinions toward U.S. foreign policy across six different policies was 19 percent compared to a 47 percent favorable rating of the American people.13 Polls that the Pew Foundation conducted in 2002 and 2004 show the same pattern although some of the differences are less pronounced.
In chapters 3 and 4 Isernia and Chiozza analyze these polling results in order to understand the structure and correlates of attitudes toward the United States. They also investigate two other features of attitudes that have been less emphasized, or even ignored, in both popular and scholarly discussions of this subject: multidimensionality and heterogeneity. As is frequently noted, people seem to like and loath the United States and American society, at the same time. There is a perhaps apocryphal story about the Iranian students who participated in the holding of American hostages in 1979, asking how, after the crisis was over, they could obtain visas to the United States. “Yankee, go home -- and take me with you!” Such ambivalence is best interpreted as the result of situationally appropriate, multidimensional perceptions of the United States.14
Someone can have multidimensional attitudes without being ambivalent: that is, she could clearly like and dislike different aspects of American society without being at all uncertain about either her likes or dislikes. Ambivalence is different: Neil Smelser defines it as a “powerful, persistent, unresolvable, volatile, generalizable, and anxiety-provoking feature of the human condition.”15 Smelser associates ambivalence with situations in which people are dependent on a person or organization that they both respect and resent. In practice, it is often difficult to distinguish multidimensionality from ambivalence. Many people abroad (and many Americans as well) like and dislike specific aspects of America. If their general evaluation of American involves strong elements of both attraction and repulsion, they may feel ambivalent.
The polling data show clearly, as Isernia and Chiozza document, that people value different aspects of the United States, or of American society. That is, attitudes toward the United States are multidimensional rather than ambivalent. Chiozza, for example, documents in chapter 4 that attitudes toward America differ along different dimensions. In eight Islamic countries in 2002 (before the Iraq war dramatically increased negative views of the United States), almost 82 percent of respondents held favorable opinions of U.S. science and technology. About 65 percent thought positively about U.S. education, movies and TV, and commercial products. Only 47 percent held favorable views of U.S. ideas of freedom and democracy or the American people. Those people who admired U.S. science and technology but disliked American conceptions of freedom and democracy were not ambivalent about either feature of the United States; their views were multidimensional in the sense that they evaluated differently different dimensions associated with the United States. Similarly, Isernia shows in chapter 3 that Europeans in the 1950s could dislike capitalism and associate America with capitalism without disliking America.
Table 1 compares two sets of views by respondents to the Pew Research Center’s polls in 2003. Column (1) shows the difference between the percentage of respondents who express agreement with the statement, “people from our country who move to the U.S. have a better life there,” and the percentage disagreeing with that statement. A positive number indicates that on average respondents have a favorable opinion of the United States as a place to live (relative to the home country). Column (2) records the difference between the percentage of respondents who have a favorable opinion of the United States and the percentage with an unfavorable opinion. A positive number indicates that in the aggregate, respondents have a favorable opinion of the United States. The difference between columns (1) and (2) represents the discrepancy between the net score for a given country on the question about emigrants to the United States having a better life, and the net score for the same country regarding the United States in general. That difference is always positive and in most cases remarkably large, indicating the much higher regard respondents show for the United States as a place to live, than for “the United States” as an abstract entity.16
-- Table 1 about here. --
Table 1 shows that people can simultaneously say that they dislike the United States and believe that emigrants from their country to the United States generally have a better life than those who remain. These feelings can be interpreted as ambivalence toward America or as multidimensional views toward various aspects of America. Either way, they suggest the complexity of attitudes that are often described too simply as “anti-American.”
Americans have not reciprocated the sharp decline in esteem shown to the United States by foreign publics. In a series of polls conducted between 1999 and 2004 Americans were asked whether a range of countries were close allies, friendly, unfriendly or enemies.17 The results indicate a largely positive view of other countries. Even in September 2004, in the midst of the Iraq war and an election campaign drawing attention to criticism of the United States abroad, more Americans identified 22 of the 25 countries listed as allies or friends than as unfriendly or enemies. The only exceptions were China, Colombia, and Pakistan. Table 2 shows responses for six American allies over four time periods. Americans’ attitudes respond to the facts that the UK and Japan supported the American war in Iraq, and that Canada, France, and Germany did not. But despite the drops in their ratings, a majority of the American public viewed these three countries in 2003 and in 2004 as allied or at least friendly to the United States.
--Table 2 about here –
Anti-American views are not only multidimensional but also very heterogeneous. There exists substantial and persistent cross-country variation in Western European attitudes toward the United States. Between 1976 and 1997, on average, respondents in the following countries reported that they had “some trust” or “a lot of trust” in Americans: between 74 and 76 percent in Denmark, West Germany, Great Britain, and Netherlands; between 63 to 70 percent in Portugal, Italy, Belgium, and France; but only 46 percent in Spain (1986-97) and 38 percent in Greece (1980-1997). 18
Various expressions of anti-Americanism seem to have some common elements, including expressions of resentment of America and charges of hypocrisy leveled against the U. S. government. There exists, however, a great deal of variation. Some expressions of antipathy are linked directly to U.S. policies or capabilities, both past and present. Others are linked to the real or imagined gap between American ideals and the actual conduct of the United States. Still others seem to reflect profound differences between the respondent’s and American values and identity. At every level, there is so much variation by country and region that it is more accurate to speak of anti-Americanisms than of anti-Americanism.
People in different countries have very different evaluations of America and of current American policy. We conjecture that evaluations of current policy may perform a triggering function, shifting what could be pro-Americanism or neutrality to anti-Americanism, or intensifying the level of anti-Americanism. One of the important and to date unanswered questions is the extent to which opposition to American foreign policy spills over into more deep-seated antipathy to America that generates a new kind of identity as well as to institutionalized forms of bias. If such a “ratchet effect” exists, the implications for America’s role in the world and its “soft power” would be much greater than if a change in foreign policy would restore positive views of the United States.19
Opinion, Distrust, and Bias
If one probes beneath the surface it becomes clear that polling data may mask much of what is politically significant.20 People who answer polling questions in a way that can reasonably be coded as anti-American may differ greatly both in their causal beliefs and in the intensity of their views. Cross-national public opinion polls are useful for helping us understand some basic distinctions in the political orientation of mass publics—specifically toward the United States government and its policies on the one hand and American society and values on the other. But polls risk imposing a conceptual unity on extremely diverse sets of political processes that mean different things in different contexts. Polls may even create the “attitudes” they report since people wish to provide answers to questions that are posed.21
Distinguishing between opinion and bias is particularly difficult. It is also hard -- but crucial for our project -- to identify whether negative attitudes are accompanied by distrust. In this section, we first discuss these issues conceptually. We then describe an analysis we have conducted, seeking to identify bias in a comparative manner, using public reactions in January 2005 to the tsunami relief effort mounted by the United States in Southeast Asia.
On the whole, the political Left in the United States takes comfort from analyses of public opinion polls. They seem consistent with its general view that anti-Americanism is principally a result of unpopular U.S. policies. Negative attitudes are strongest toward American foreign policy rather than American society; anti-Americanism gets worse during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq; anti-Americanism is highest in areas where American actions are widely opposed, as in the Islamic world; most people in most countries think of the United States as a generally good place to live. For the Left, anti-Americanism is a result of “what we do,” not “who we are.”
But if anti-Americanism is only a matter of opinion -- often transient -- why care about it? The Right takes the view of Polonius: “to thine own self be true.” The United States is hated by many people but this is a mark of respect: they hate what is good about us -- American values of freedom and democracy. Rather than feeling defensive, according to the Right, America should be proud of what it is and what it stands for. If the United States firmly pursues sound policies, favorable opinion will follow. For the Right, anti-Americanism is the result of “who we are” not “what we do.” The Right can point to examples that support its position. For example, anti-Americanism in Japan was intense in 1960, when the Japanese police, reinforced by 25,000 members of the Japanese mob, were unable to secure the route from the airport to downtown Tokyo. President Eisenhower was thus forced to cancel a trip he had planned to attend the ceremonies for the extension of the US-Japan security treaty. Today, however, anti-Americanism in Japan runs at a low ebb. The United States stuck to its policies successfully. To take another example, anti-Americanism (as measured by polls) rose sharply in Europe during the Euro-missile crisis of the early 1980s. In 1984 a plurality of respondents in France, Great Britain, Italy and West Germany thought that during the past year, American policies had done more to increase the risk of war than to promote peace. In 1982, between 29 and 37 percent of those polled held unfavorable opinions of the United States. Yet by 1987 the range of opinion in the same countries was down to a range of 12 to 28 percent unfavorable.22 The United States had not wavered from its policy of placing missiles in Europe to counter Soviet missiles aimed at Europe, even though the result was a temporary increase in anti-American opinion. After the policy had been successfully implemented, the United States once again became popular.
Polls often reflect rather transient attitudes -- what is on top of people’s heads.23 When situations change, polling results can change dramatically. A recent poll of Indonesians after the western-led tsunami relief efforts of January 2005 illustrates this point.24 Conducted between February 1 and 6, 2005, the poll shows a dramatic drop in support for Osama bin Laden and for such actions as suicide bombing. It also shows a sharp rise in favorable views toward the United States and American efforts to fight terrorism. Table 3 displays a summary of differences between responses to identically worded questions in 2003 and in February 2005.
-- Table 3 about here. --
Nothing in these data suggests that the United States is very popular in Indonesia, or that Indonesian attitudes toward the United States, and toward the war on terrorism, will not turn more negative in the future. The point is that anti-American opinion is volatile, and subject to sharp changes with new events.
The problem, however, with the view that opinion does not matter is that negative shifts in opinion do not necessarily revert back to favorable or neutral views, or may only do so after adverse political effects have occurred. . Political entrepreneurs who seek to pursue policies antagonistic to the United States, or who are opportunistic in their exploitation of expressed anti-American views, may use periods of high antagonism to thwart the United States on important international issues or gain power in domestic politics. Indeed, political practices and discourses hostile to the United States can be institutionalized at a period of high antagonism by elites, who then develop a stake in maintaining negative attitudes and poor relations with the United States. Cuba and Iran both come to mind as examples of countries that had close relationships with the United States, which turned hostile under regimes that, at times, have sought to maintain that hostility for their own purposes. In chapter 9 Doug McAdam emphasizes the possible indirect, long-term, and unanticipated impacts of anti-American opinion. We also address this question in chapter 10.
While opinion may or may not have serious consequences, distrust and bias should be of serious concern to policy-makers, particularly if these negative predispositions become deeply entrenched in societies that are important to the United States. For distrust can translate easily into opposition or lack of support of the United States . They are likely to demand more evidence, or more compensation, from the United States before they are willing to support American policies. These demands are costly. People who not only distrust the United States but are also biased will process information differently than unbiased people. A recent report demonstrates that negative attitudes toward the United States made Indonesian and Egyptian members of different focus groups list U.S. aid given to their countries during the last decade erroneously in the millions, rather than as $1 billion and $ 7.3 billion, respectively.25They are more likely to attribute bad policies to essential features of the United States, rather than merely to specific situations. Furthermore, they will tend to discount potentially favorable information and make negative information more salient. Social psychology shows that people develop social identities easily, and that they define themselves as group members relative to other groups, responding positively to in-groups and negatively to out-groups.26 If people define the United States as part of an out-group, they are likely to view it negatively. If anti-Americanism were to become deep and endemic it could function like a classic prejudice and become a potent marker of identity that is resistant to disconfirming evidence.
Figure 1 suggests two distinctions, between predispositions and opinion, and, within the broad category of predispositions, between bias and distrust. The figure presents these distinctions as categorical, but they can be seen as placed along a continuum involving receptivity to new information. The more predisposition someone has against America, the less information is required to view American policies negatively. The strongest predisposition -- bias -- implies attributing negative actions and motives to the United States as an entity, rather than to the situation in which it finds itself. Distrust, on the other hand, can reflect attribution to the essential and inherent characteristics of an actor, or to the situation in which the actor finds himself, or some mixture of the two. The more distrust is based on negative evaluations of American characteristics, viewed as inherent, the deeper it is. Negative opinions by people who are open to new information and do not attribute bad practices of the United States to its essential, inherent characteristics do not qualify as predispositions for us -- either toward distrust or bias.27
-- Figure 1 about here --
It is very important to emphasize that our distinction among opinion, distrust and bias represents a continuum, with distrust lying between opinion and bias. Most opinion reflects a mixture of reasoned assessment based on historical judgment and is structured also in some ways by schemas. Bowen acknowledges in chapter 8 how difficult it can be to distinguish between these two in specific instances. Since we focus on anti-Americanism rather than pro-Americanism, we are concerned with schemas that create some negative predispositions. Some of these may be so mild that they still fit within our general category of opinion. As the schemas harden, we move into the range of more or less serious distrust, and, eventually, to bias.
Anti-Semitism is an extreme version of bias, and it has some links to current anti-Americanism as Bowen analyzes for the case of Indonesia and France in chapter 8.28 Earlier Nazi, Soviet and Pan-Arab versions of anti-Semitism are feeding into contemporary Islamic forms that are affecting the attitudes of millions of Muslims. The unconditional support of the United States for the policies of the Israeli government that contradict a number of long-standing UN resolutions has created a strong political backlash well beyond the Middle East. And the U.S. assent to the Israeli defiance of the Road Map for peace (backed by the U.S, the UN ,the European Union, and Russia) has aggravated a deeply felt sense of injustice by endorsing the Israeli view that core aspects of the final settlement could be fixed without Palestinian agreement.29 In the Middle East anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism often blend seamlessly into one another. This is true also in Europe where that fusion is not only restricted to a growing Muslim population. Although European anti-Semitism and even philo-Semitism without Jews have become social facts since 1945, traditional anti-Semitism is no longer tolerated in Europe’s public discourse.30 A new anti-Semitism now focuses on Israel’s military strength, religious vitality, strong nationalism, and predisposition toward unilateral action, all traits that, in the eyes of many Europeans, also characterize the United States.31 By contrast, Europeans today value diplomacy, betray a secular outlook, share in a diffuse national identity blending with local and European elements, and reveal an enduring commitment to the principle of multilateralism. Civilian, not military, power is the source for Europe’s claim to great power status in world politics. Since Israel, despite its lack of geographical depth and small population, is widely regarded as the main regional power, in the Middle East its close alliance with the United States creates a preponderance of Israeli over Arab power. And that preponderance reinforces values that, in European eyes, are fundamentally at odds with the European experience of building peacefully a new polity on a continent for centuries divided by ancient hatreds and bloody wars. Anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism converge on the fleeting borderlines that separate serious criticism from distrust and systematic bias.
Some authors distinguish correctly between opinion and bias but then make the error of accepting polling data as “expressions of anti-Americanism.”32 Clearly we need better evidence than this before concluding that anti-Americanism in the sense of deep distrust or bias is widespread. Andrei S. Markovits of the University of Michigan reports some such evidence, in an analysis of nearly one thousand articles written on the United States in Britain, France, Germany and Italy. 33 Focusing on “non-political” topics such as film, theatre and sports, he found pervasive condescension and denigration toward American culture. One of his more telling examples compares European press coverage of the World Cup in the United States (1994) and in Korea and Japan (2002). In the American coverage even unexpected events that would appear to be positive (such as 60,000 people watching a match between Saudi Arabia and Morocco on a weekday afternoon) were reported negatively: such a high turnout only underlined the naivete and ignorance of the American public. In contrast, the South Korean and Japanese hosts received rave reviews.
Without more studies that replicate Markovits’s findings in different countries and empirical domains, it is difficult to know how biased people elsewhere are toward the United States. We and our collaborators have tried in this project to figure out ways to differentiate among these types of sentiments.34 One such effort is described in the next sub-section.
Attitudes toward the United States are too multidimensional for bias to be an accurate description of most people’s views, as expressed either in public opinion polls or in public discourse. Yet in countries as diverse as China, France, Egypt and Indonesia, attitudes reflect a pervasive and sometimes institutionalized distrust, which creates skepticism toward statements by the United States government and a negative predisposition toward American policy. Overall, the findings in this book indicate that attitudes toward the United States are frequently better-characterized in terms of distrust than of either opinion or bias.