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Thursday, November 11, 2004

America's popularity and the real world


America's popularity and the real world

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By Sol Sanders

Sol W. Sanders

November 11, 2004

As someone who has lived for long periods overseas outside the U.S. Embassy bubble, the present spate of self-flagellation in the legacy media about the unpopularity of America alternately amuses and infuriates.

No one can deny Western Europeans who share so many of our values are unhappy with the U.S. In a world which sees itself having solved more than a thousand years of internecine wars Â? two of them almost fatal to their civilization Â? many, maybe most, Europeans want to believe peace and stability is a commodity always bought with reason and compromise. That is an old, almost fatal European disease; we only have to think back to the two decades leading to World War II when leadership thought it could buy peace that way. In time, the Europeans will come to their senses Â?either through intelligence or alas! through the kind of catastrophe which almost saddled them with a Hitler/Stalin-dominated continent. That may be coming sooner than expected with an Iran equipped with WMD-armed missiles with a Europen range.

But in the vast spaces between Casablanca and Zamboanga, another issue presents itself, There billions of people live in conditions where the idea of FranceÂ?s 30-hour week is incomprehensible. Although occasionally staged by agit-prop technicians, European signboards using four-letter words to insult Americans are meaningless. Their daily lives of scrabble preclude such luxuries Â? and better to avoid the batons of thugs who enforce the dicktat of whatever tyrant is temporarily in control.

To talk about public opinion polls in that environment is even more ludicrous than exit polls which so recently almost tripped up an American election. Nor, frankly, is a group of public luminariesÂ? report Â? who helped formulate American policy which gave us 9/11 Â? throw much light. Their admonitions to get to fundamentals as a palliative for anti-American sentiment are unimpeachable. Except, of course, it is a bit like suggesting the way to prevent a mugging in progress is to do an instant psychoanalysis of the attacker to find out where his childhood temptation to violence began. There, are, indeed, remarkable examples of where poverty and corrupt government has given way to improved living standards, political and social enlightenment. But one must remind these advocates of Â?basic reformÂ? it took 54,246 American lives, two and a half million South Koreans deaths, and perhaps 1.5 million martyred North Korean and Chinese soldiers, to lay the groundwork for the process in South Korea.

But if the political scientistsÂ? claptrap Â?scientificÂ? pollsters go astray in examining the level of Â?anti-AmericanismÂ?, anecdotal attempts by our intrepid media adventurers is even more ludicrous. It brings to mind adventures in the mid-1950s. I was investigating economic development prospects as Prime Minister Nehru and his trusty band borrowed foreign Communist apparatchiks set India on the Soviet planning path. I grabbed a taxi, a Hindi-Urdu interpreter, and went for a spin on one of the few highways leading out of the capital. At an unpredetermined spot, we descended, walked several miles into a village where we were, typical of most villagers around the world, welcomed. For several hours we discussed local problems. I didnÂ?t learn much. But I did discover no one could identify Mohandas Gandhi, the leader of the greatest mass reform movement in the 20th century, and although they said they recognized the name; they had never heard of Nehru.

An intrepid young [I give her the benefit of the doubt] lady at The Los Angeles Times reports her interviews with America-returned young people in Lahore. Her piece recounts how, after their marvelous U.S. academic experience, they are now upset with what they see as a changed America. I have no doubt these scion of one of the most corrupt feudal elite in the Afro-Asian world do resent our support of a military dictatorship. But whatever else it is doing, is helping to drain the swamp of terrorists, internal and external. Her reference to a former politician who was a Â?friend of the U.S.Â? is idiotic were it not so damaging to any concept of what is going on in the country. Nor does she seem to know the lady, a frequent guest in Georgetown salons with the same sort of ignorance, triple face-lifts and all, comes from a family notorious as the worst landlords in the Sindh and who as prime minister presided over the swap of Pakistani nuclear technology for North Korean missiles.

In fact, it is a jungle out there. The Bush Administration, after 9/11 took the only option it had: to defend the U.S. against a wily group of nihilistic adventurers using Islamicist fanaticism to inflict as much hurt as they could on Americans everywhere. The fact pursuit of that goal takes forthright military options will not be approved in the hypocritical quarters of a UN which has Muammar QadaffiÂ?s Libya as chairman of its human rights commission, and gets billions in payoffs from a jerry-built attempt to sanction weapons sales to a monster like Sadaam Hussein. The use of American power to destroy a corrupt status quo which for more than half a century has bred such monsters will not win phony public opinion polls conducted by interested parties.

Sol W. Sanders, (, is an Asian specialist with more than 25 years in the region, and a former correspondent for Business Week, U.S. News & World Report and United Press International. He writes weekly for World

November 11, 2004
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