…and the Beginning of an Academic Debate? Of course, this magical history tour of traditional European America-stereotypes does not mean that the United States should not have provoked criticism in a great variety of social, economic, political, military, and cultural matters, just to the contrary. Still, many European accusations against “typical American phenomena” clearly have a different quality than criticism toward similar developments in Europe. They usually reveal two dimensions of unease, a double alienation: they are similar to accusations made by disillusioned lovers who themselves had lost their innocence long ago and simply would not acknowledge that the supposed virginity of their transatlantic mistress had never been anything else but a European fantasy if not a European folly, which, to be sure itself found fertile grounds in America and were easily transplanted.
Because seen from a vantage point from outside the United States of America as well as Europe, that is from the vantage point of the large majority of the world´s population, these differences actually become quite academic, really representing two sides of the same coin – the Janus face of the Euro-Americanization of the world. Robert Kagan´s much quoted characterization of US-Americans living on Mars while Europeans supposedly are inhabiting Venus certainly holds some entertainment value (and may be representative for a majority of the present economic, political and media “elites” in a number of countries), this dichotomous division – if not Manichean vision – itself only is further proof for the longevity and shallowness of clichés as well as the durability of stereotypes.3 Furthermore, the juxtaposition of US-Americans as warmongers and Europeans as peace-lovers neglects the fundamental reality that millions of US citizens opposed the war against Iraq while millions of Europeans, though not the majorities, supported it.
Especially Europeans, as Gary Younge argued in The Guardian should realize that
the split between Europe and the US is strategic, not moral. There is nothing inherent in European political culture that makes it more liberal and less imperial than America. European leaders and commentators are right to criticise the US for its brutality and imperialist pretensions. But they must do so with sufficient self-awareness to see what most of the rest of the world has seen: that their nations have acted in similar and even more pernicious ways whenever they have had the opportunity… The difference between Europe and the US is significant and has been accentuated in recent months, but to the vast majority of the developing world American domination represents a development in the narrative of European empire, not a break from it.4