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British Anti-Americanism gone mad

If you want to read about the truly extraordinary and deeply depressing paroxysm of anti-Americanism that has swept like a firestorm through the British media over the last few days and weeks (having merely smouldered for years), you can read about it here.

Of a particularly fatuous TV guide blurb (“Jonathan Dimbleby takes a critical look at the Anglo-US war on terror…”), Mark Holland has this to say:

A critical look! Just for a change. I don’t know about you, but for me all those “Hey it’s all going swell; Bush, Blair and Howard are doing fine; the oil for food scandal has lined the pockets of Saddam, the UN and Total Fina Elf; etc” documentaries have become a tiresome bore.

For me the most depressing British anti-American exhibit of the last few days was a rant by Peter Oborne in yesterday’s Mail on Sunday. Having ignored the Mail, Sunday or of any other sort, for years, I had no idea it was capable of sinking to these depthsm and I only spotted it because I shared some coffee with Michael Jennings in my local Café Nero yesterday.

This picture, of the front cover of the Review section, sums it up well:

MoSRIPs.jpg

Click to get it bigger and more legible. If you really want that.

This is absolutely not mere anti-Bushism, for Oborne is vitriolically nasty about both Democrats and Republicans. Maybe this piece is available to read on the internet, but I cannot myself find it. I am actually rather pleased about that. But, just in case you suspect that “RIP Democracy” has been slammed on top of a piece which is not nearly as stupid as that, here are Oborne’s first two paragraphs:

During this year’s presidential election, both candidates have claimed America possesses the greatest political system in the world. It is not just a boast George W. Bush and John Kerry make in front of their own electorate. Far more important, they make it abroad. America invaded Afghanistan and Iraq in order to banish despotism and teach them the wonders of US-style democracy.

But there is growing reason to doubt whether America herself is a democracy in any meaningful sense of the word.

Yes. Apart from, you know, regular elections which neither candidate has any intention of postponing in the future, which millions of Americans vote in, for different candidates who argue with each other fiercely, including the challenger with the incumbent, whose various arguments get written about in very contrasting ways by a free press. Apart from those meaningful senses.

Idiot.

How seriously ought anyone to take this stuff? I cannot ever remember a time when British anti-Americanism was so strident and so nasty, and so deeply, deeply ignorant, stupid and bigoted. So maybe: very seriously indeed. On the other hand, American movies now, as always, dominate our TV screens and DVD shops, and American actors and actresses continue to chatter away happily on our TV sets as if stuff like this was never written. And I am not talking only about anti-American Americans talking on anti-American chat shows. Michael Moore is not the only American who gets a welcome here. I can detect no concerted move by British electro-scribblers away from Microsoft software. Maybe the ludicrously hostile intensity with which many Brits are now reacting to these US elections reflects not any attempt on our part to get separate, but just yet another spasm of resentment at how ever more permanently joined-at-the-hip British popular and political culture now is to American popular and political culture. Maybe it is just pure imperial envy, coinciding with the dismantling of the last of our armed forces, and our bitter acceptance of ourselves as Never Again a Great Power. Maybe it is all just got up by the press and has no real basis out there in British normal-land. You tell me.

What I do know for sure is that Peter Oborne of all people ought to bloody well know better than to denounce the USA as undemocratic. This is a man who, not that long ago was reporting secretly in Zimbabwe, for heaven’s sakes. Phrases like “RIP Democracy” should be saved for when and where they are really needed and are actually true, not drained of all meaning by being slung at the USA, of all places.

49 comments to British Anti-Americanism gone mad

  • alfadog

    More rantings by jealous anti-American Europricks.
    Note to Mr. Oborne:
    We don’t really give a shit what you think.

  • John

    Has anyone bothered to inform Oborne the U.S. is a Republic and not a Democracy?

  • R C Dean

    But there is growing reason to doubt whether America herself is a democracy in any meaningful sense of the word.

    One hesitates to point out that the American government is not and never has been a democracy, but was established as a democratic republic of limited powers. If anything, it has been getting more democratic over time, to its detriment.

  • Foobarista

    The key to the article is the blurb graf below the title, which indicates that the real issue is that America is not a democracy because the author doesn’t approve of Bush. Not to mention that his disapproval of Bush voters is rooted in typical “intellectual” Euro-leftie bigotry.

    Reminds me of an old saying: when I win, it’s a democracy. When you win, it’s a dictatorship.

  • GRH

    The lesson to be drawn from all this anti-Americanism is surely that something has gone very badly wrong in the world. In the aftermath of 9/11 there was a huge outpouring of sympathy and solidarity towards the USA, and it’s all been squandered by the Bush administration over three years which have been a disaster for America as it’s seen abroad.

    Many people have been following electoral-vote.com to see what the polls are saying as the campaign nears its end. The guy who runs that site has today revealed his identity and has summed the situation up brilliantly on this page. It’s well worth a read.

  • Crosbie

    I cannot ever remember a time when British anti-Americanism was so strident and so nasty, and so deeply, deeply ignorant, stupid and bigoted. So maybe: very seriously indeed. On the other hand, American movies now, as always, dominate our TV screens and DVD shops, and American actors and actresses continue to chatter away happily on our TV sets as if stuff like this was never written.

    Isn’t it the case that many British are angry at the actions of the American state, while actually liking American society? Even if the distinction is an unconscious one?

  • Maybe it is all just got up by the press and has no real basis out there in British normal-land.

    Pretty much, as I think the rest of your piece indicates. In genuinely anti-American countries, there are successful boycotts against US goods. The very idea of normal people going along with something like that here is ridiculous.

    Bush has managed to offend every nasty little vocal minority in the UK – but one could scarcely make a greater mistake than to confuse that noise with the view of the ordinary man in the street. As I’ve said elsewhere, these liberals who keep boasting that Britons desperately want Kerry really need to get out of London and its silly fashionable circles and stop assuming their preferences and priorities to be those of the rest of the population.

  • GCooper

    I was spared the horror of the Peter Oborne piece, but I imagine Brian Micklethwait’s use of it was as a specific to illustrate the general. And if it was, sad to say, he is spot-on.

    The reality is that if you keep up this rubbish for long enough, even ordinarily sensible people start to mouth this sort of drivel and it is, regrettably, common over here at present, as a result.

    Much of it is from the usual Leftist imbeciles, who will never forgive the USA for having won the Cold War and helped prove socialism an aberrant philosophy – but not all of it. Equaly, there are voices on the patrician Right too (I believe Oborne may be one of these), who have always considered the colonials as crass, boorish and lacking the sensibilities of properly civilised people.

    Add these two together and you get an uncomfortable pressure from both sides of the media: the plain barking-mad Leftists, like Polly Toynbee, on the one hand and patronising wannabe upper-class twits like “Sir” Max Hastings on the other.

    In the face of such an unremitting onslaught, what impresses me is how superficial its impact has actually been. Leaving aside the right-on chatter at Hampstead dinner parties, it is certainly true that many here have swallowed the myths and distortions about the USA peddled by these propagandists. But there seems to me to be very little actual real anti-Americanism, and I write having recently spent a couple of weeks travelling around with one. Misinformed idiocy, perhaps, but real malice? No. That remains reserved for the French, as it rightly should.

    I suppose the only thing one should bear in mind is that myths do run both ways. Americans seem to hold as many misconceptions about we Brits as vice versa – they just haven’t been the filling in a relentless, media hate-sandwich for the past four or five years. Our chattering classes really do have a lot to answer for.

  • Republic! Republic!

    Democracy is rule of the foolish, by the corrupt, for their own benefit.

  • Pete_London

    Right, must get something off my chest now. Britain and the British, far from being anti-American are very much the opposite. I think that (for once) I can speak with some experience. I am from London and live in London. My gorgeous missus lives outside of London in a conservative village and my job, based in Camridge, takes me around the country.

    For our American friends who may not be aware: London utterly dominates the political, commercial and cultural life of Britain. Imagine Washington, Los Angeles and New York rolled into one. As such it very much the liberal village. Suburbs such as Islington, Hampstead and Notting Hill are synonymous with the liberal elites of the nation. They take no notice of the views and opinions, morals, traditions and needs of the great majority of the nation. In fact they spend all of their time imposing their intolerant beliefs on the rest of us.

    The rest of Britain doesn’t give a toss about them.

    One of he simple yet satisfying pleasures in life is to get out of town, sit in a country pub and feel free of all that bullshit.

    Maybe it is all just got up by the press and has no real basis out there in British normal-land. Absolutely!

    Brian – I read the piece in the MoS and its all crap. 100%.

    GCooper – spot on. Peter Oborne is the same breed of wannabe conservative patrician as Max Hastings and Heseltine(Link)

    who have always considered the colonials as crass, boorish and lacking the sensibilities of properly civilised people.

    Peter:

    Bush has managed to offend every nasty little vocal minority in the UK – but one could scarcely make a greater mistake than to confuse that noise with the view of the ordinary man in the street. As I’ve said elsewhere, these liberals who keep boasting that Britons desperately want Kerry really need to get out of London and its silly fashionable circles and stop assuming their preferences and priorities to be those of the rest of the population.

    Couldn’t have put it better myself. Its high time Americans were made to realise that all of those articles, news items, opinion pieces, plays, comments etc eminate from a clique of bitter, twisted left-wing, elite wankers, almost all of which are based in London. They are too frightened of the reality that may confront them if they exposed themselves to real Britain. I’m currently watching Michael Gambon on Room 101. He wants to put Notting Hill in. The reason? Film Directors, artists, writers and designers have ‘pushed out Londoners’. BBC and Guardian journalists also, no doubt.

    I am sick, sick, sick of it. Britons and Americans by and large are one and the same. History, blood, instincts, standards, morals all tie us together. Those wankers are trying to drive a wedge between our two nations. Please be assured they do not speak for me nor the vast numbers of Britons I meet.

    Fuck’em.

  • If the US supposedly thinks its own system is perfect, why does the new Iraqi government have a single parliament and a prime minister?

  • Euan Gray

    I incline more to the jealousy and mutual incomprehension explanation. I’m not actually anti-American, although not being rabidly pro-American does seem to be sufficient in these parts to attract the label sometimes.

    The vast majority of Americans I know and have worked with are generally nice people, but some are brain-dead ignorami. Then again, you get this with any group of people, so that doesn’t mean anything. Sometimes British people need to use simple words with those hick Americans, sometimes Americans need to explain the basics of capitalism to the near-Communist British. We all seem to rub along well enough, though, and it would be a dull world if we were all the same.

    I think, to the extent it can really be nailed down, that British anti-Americanism is not in any meaningful sense directed at individual Americans, nor even at the idea of the American state, but, rather specifically, at what America does in the world. This idea of spreading democracy around the world can be seen as somewhat naive, especially when it gets done at gunpoint. You can’t, I have heard it said many times, force people to be free, nor can you bomb them into friendship. And this is true. A liberal free society does not just happen, it does not just pop into existence because you write a constitution that says it exists, it evolves slowly as the host culture develops. Nor, for that matter, are people somehow “naturally” free and democratic, needing only liberation from their oppression to embrace the joys of secular democracy.

    I think a large measure of the hostility is simply jealousy – only a short time ago it was the European nations telling Johnny Foreigner how to run his country, and now the Americans are doing it. And a smaller part is, perhaps, exasperation at what is seen, with in my view some justification, as an American naivete in the world and a lack of any sense of history. I can’t recall who it was who said that the difference between America and England was that the English think 100 miles is a long distance and the Americans think 100 years is a long time.

    I don’t think it’s anything personal, in most cases. But what I think it comes down to is that the hand on the whip is no longer British, but worse than that it has little experience of when, and more importantly when NOT to use the whip.

    EG

  • veryretired

    The fable called “Now everyone hates us because of Bush” is every bit as phony as the “crisis of the homeless” which only seems to be a problem when a non-liberal is in the White House. And, just as the homeless miraculously evaporated as soon as Clinton was elected in 1992, so too will this paroxysm of anti-US feeling suddenly disappear from the headlines if Kerry is elected tomorrow.

    In fact, there has long been a vocal and influential anti-US attitude from both the right and the left, as GCooper points out.

    The aristocratic and statist right has long condemned the US as crassly commercial, mongrelized by Jews and undesireble races, simple-minded, and weak in spirit. This litany began in the 19th Century, and continued down through the fascist-nazi critique into the current era. The US is frequently depicted as debauched, degenerate, lacking in moral fiber, corrupted by materialism, etc. etc.

    From the same period, as the 19th century was an era of reaction to the threat of the Enlightenment’s emphasis on individual rights and liberties, the leftist criticism of the capitalist wasteland of commerce, commerce, and more soulless commerce, of class warfare, and heartless competition was not only relentless, but astonishingly attractive to generations of intellectuals and moralists, who condemned every aspect of culture and society in the US.

    One has only to read the latest lunatic editorial in the Pyongyang Daily News to hear echoes of the type of dreck that has been poured into the minds of whole populations around the world for more than a century.

    The US, and its embrace of capitalism, individualism, and representative government, has been a threat to much of the world’s elites since the day it was founded. It is not surprising that those threatened by these ideas have fought back so desparately.

    As much as it galls so many around the world, it is simply the case that very few Americans care much what foreigners think about us. If you get on our nerves, as the Germans and South Koreans have done recently, we may disengage from you somewhat, but it is more of a raspberry than retaliation.

    After the disaster of the 20th century, brought to all of us by the lunacy of the authoritarian-totalitarians of the collectivist left and the statist right, and the 100+ million graves they left as a memorial, it will take a lot more than the war in Iraq and the Kyoto treaty to bring the US down to that level of “sophistication and achievement”.

  • Verity

    GRH – That you claim that the Bush administration has “squandered” some mythical goodwill towards America on the part of Brits and Europeans leads me to believe that first, you are American, and second, you have profoundly misinterpreted the British psyche.

    It strikes me that the more freedom is leached out of Britain by an overmighty government that has got away with sharp tricks that wouldn’t be legal in the US, the more rights that have been sacrificed in the name of levelling down (everyone can be a brain surgeon because we’re not requiring a knowledge of medicine any more) and the more a formerly cohesive society has become uncivil and angry, the more that anger and vague discontent is directed at America, which still cherishes and protects most of these liberties. Courtesy, by and large, reigns in the US, whereas rudeness and anger have become the subtext in interaction between Brits in many encounters now. Americans respect their constitution, and the Brits have seen a wrecking ball taken to theirs. America cherishes its nationhood and Britain is surrendering its sovereignty with a sense of helplessness because their opinions are jeered at by the governing party. I think this is the source of British hatred of the United States. They hung onto their values and we allowed ours to be pissed away.

    I would also agree with G Cooper that it is not genuine malice – although I have encountered sheer blind viciousness in some instances, although I would also disagree that it makes its largest appearance among the chatterati. It’s everywhere. And I agree with Euan Gray that [except in the case of George Bush] it’s nothing personal.

  • ernest young

    After the disaster of the 20th century, brought to all of us by the lunacy of the authoritarian-totalitarians of the collectivist left and the statist right, and the 100+ million graves they left as a memorial, it will take a lot more than the war in Iraq and the Kyoto treaty to bring the US down to that level of “sophistication and achievement”.

    Hard to believe, but it really does all boil down to a war between Capitalism and Socialism.

    The Socialists of Europe et al feel that when there is a Democrat in the White House they at least have a slim chance of having a small influence over the Rest of the World. Without the suport of the US, they all descend to the level of that other farce – the UN. A pox on them all…

    Hence the hatred of a conservative such as Bush, and particularly a religious conservative, who does not take kindly to the smarmy, sweaty palmed overtures of the likes of Chirac, Shroeder and Annan, and even Blair, seeing such attempts at ‘friendship’ as being no more than the opening manouevres of a bunch of political gigolos,

    The intolerance, and the utter stupidity of the ‘Left’ never ceases to amaze me…

    The thought of a shallow, crass, traitorous man, such as Kerry being elected as President, should be enough to make any normal American physically sick…

    Bush is far from perfect – but then who isn’t? but he is far and away the better man of the two.

  • MD

    Hmmm, most British people I’ve interacted with are just lovely. And considerably more diverse politically than the BBC America stereotypes (OT, but BBC America is, like, twenty hours of home makeover shows and something called Parkinson Starburst? Please tell me this is not an accurate reflection of British television. Well, who am I to complain? US television is just awful, too).

    Euan Gray: as someone born in India, I think I’m mighty glad the hand on the whip is no longer British :). All I’m saying is: not everyone thinks the hand holding the whip was more judicious in the times of the British Empire…….

  • Harry Payne

    I’d expand on Crosbie’s distinction between US Society and the State, and add Corporations to the mix. Gross over-simplified generalisations follow. My perception is that Society (“jes plain folks”) wants the world to leave it alone so it can get on with life. The Corporations want to exploit the rest of the world by any means necessary, and preach free trade while benefiting from protectionism backed by the State.

    While there’s nothing wrong with a measure of isolationism, protectionism, or state control, the common Anti-American perception comes from taking the three aforementioned parts as one unified system and using the resulting straw man to say “All Americans are greedy, lying hypocrites who use violence to further their own means”. Add to that the fervent wish to believe the democratic process is working the way the “right” people (intellectual/liberal) want it to, with reasoned debate and people swayed by facts, rather than the way it is working (Loud, raucous, don’t confuse me with the facts cos I’ve made up my mind and I like it that way) and that’s about it.

    I just hope that whichever unfortunate wins tomorrow it’s at least decisive enough to prevent a repeat of the 2000 fiasco.

  • D Anghelone

    Can’t find that article but what is with Chéri Blair? Can’t she just do some raisins in Gilbeys or something?

  • Tim Sturm

    I think the British populace is as polarised on America as America is on America. The point Brian is making is that the media is 100% on one side that divide.

    The BBC has become indistinguishable from a Michael Moore movie as the election has approached.

    Best comment so far Pete_London:

    Fuck them.

  • kid charlemagne

    Who are the “handful of ignorant bigots” who will choose our president? This statement is so bizarre and hateful (and ignorant, and bigoted), I’m simply flabbergasted.

  • GCooper

    Tim Sturm writes:

    “Best comment so far Pete_London:

    Fuck them.”

    I’ll go with that, too.

    There are just two problems.

    1/ We pay the bastards’ wages.

    2/ There seems to be no alternative media view on offer in the UK.

  • I’m all in favor of being despised by the Euro Left. Any major chunk of the political spectrum that has in turn carried water for Lenin, Stalin, Kruschev, Brezhnhev, and Andropov, not to mention Mao, and now carries water for Osama, Saddam, Yassir, and the Iranian Mullahs, is truly a good chunk of folks to be despised by.

    Indeed, I would rather have enemies of Mr. Oborne’s caliber and mindset, than have friends; with enemies like Mr. Oborne, one can be assured of the rectitude of one’s course.

    Mr. Oborne doesn’t need to tell us in the States that the European left and some of the Euro right (which inexplicably seems hell bent on imposing transnational socialism on the Continent) despise America plenty. We’re fully aware of what these shitheads think.

    And I assure you, the feeling is mutual among at least half of Americans. I’ll be damned if I vote for some left wing turd like Kerry, just to make a salon socialist from London feel better about me.

  • DS

    The ironic thing about all of this anti-American hatred is that it is not mutual in any respect. We would have to care about you to hate you. I would bet that most Americans don’t even know who the prime minister of Britain is, much less who his opponent in the next election will be, nor have much of an opinion on who wins one way or the other. News stories of elections in europe are generally greated with the sound of channels changing. Seinfeld re-runs are much more interesting, and carry about the same amount of significance.

    We don’t generally view europe as evil or trying to destroy the planet, just an annoiance, a group of people with an oddly out of place superiority complex.

    Here’s the fact that Brits and probably most europeans know but don’t want to admit: Americans aren’t ignorant about who your leaders are because we are not intelligent enough to figure it out. It’s because we don’t care. We don’t care because it’s not important. In the big picture the prime minister of Britain just isn’t a very important person in the world. Sorry. Neither is the president of France, the chancellor of Germany or the (whatever they call him) of Sweden or Belgium.

    I know that may sound a little insulting but those are the facts. I suspect that these facts are at the core of almost everything that europeans occupy their time with. Europeans desperately want America to care about them. But we don’t. Sorry.

  • incidentally, the mail on sunday is a middlebrow, middleclass and moderately rightwing paper. it is hardly “leftist”

  • Denise W

    All I can say is be glad this guy, Oborne, isn’t your prime minister. There would be no “special relationship”. With an ally like that, who would need an enemy? With all the things I’ve been hearing in your media, I wouldn’t be suprised if someone like him became your prime minister in the near future. If that ever happens, it’s bye bye, Mummy Dearest. I’ve never in all my life seen such a ruthless bunch of people in the past 3 years since 9/11. And I’m referring to the media elite, lefties, members of Parliament, and the like. I thought some people in America were bad. I’ve never felt so hurt and confused toward Britain as I have lately with all this rhetoric. I’ve been wondering if it weren’t for Tony Blair, would we be allies at all? Thanks for this post and I’m so glad that many of you in here do not share this guy’s views. And thank you, Pete from London for your comment. I feel reassured. And regardless of what you Brits may think of us, I still love you, my cousins.

  • Delmore Macnamara

    The “Special Relationship”, British Anti-Americanism & the decline in British military power are all inextricably linked.

    It seems to me that the relationship betwees US & UK increasingly resembles an unhappy marriage, with one partner being too dependent on the other for a true relationship of equals to flourish.

    As others above have noted, the US could do perfectly well without the UK. Until the reverse is true, Americans will always resent Brits as an unnecessary (& let’s be honest, often whiny & childishly cynical) drag on their limited resources & Brits will always revert to the characteristic resentment of the irresponsible & dependent. It is like the Welfare State writ large.

    I can’t help thinking that this will not be reversed until we Brits realise that treating Washington (or Brussels) as Big Daddy is not-cost free & will naturally result in the further infantilisation of our political culture.

    Perhaps a first step back to standing on our own two feet might be to channel the current resentment towards the US & the EU into a concern to maintain a strong & independent military. But that might take money away from schools’n'hospitals & the system of organised bribery known as the UK benefits system. Who would be brave enough to advocate such a thing? Maybe libertarians? After all it is military research that originated such emblems of modernity as the jet engine, nuclear power & the internet.

    Can libertatians coinsistently advocate increased miltary spending? I am genuinely interested to know.

  • Euan Gray

    not everyone thinks the hand holding the whip was more judicious in the times of the British Empire

    A fair enough point, and India is something of an exception anyway. But what is frequently overlooked is that someone has to hold the damned thing. However much people moan about it, the world really does need a policeman. It always has done and it always will, whatever political or economic theories say – this is reality, not theory.

    I think in Britain there is a general understanding that this is the case, and a resentment that it’s no longer us doing it.

    Personally, I have no problem with powerful countries going in to weaker ones and breaking some heads until they get their way – this is what most of history is about, and it’s kind of futile to rail against it. I DON’T like the idea of imposing democracy, and I consider this an extremely naive strategy. I think it may be based in the belief, mistaken IMO, that what worked for a settled and relatively sophisticated bunch of colonists from advanced nations in the 18th century will also necessarily work for everyone else. In the end, it is probably better to garrison and govern until you’ve educated the locals well enough, and imposed the rule of law sufficiently, and brought the people to the stage where they accept the rule of law and sound government as normal, natural and expected and the presence of brutal dictatorship as an aberration. Unfortunately, this takes a long time. Worked in (most of) India, didn’t work in Africa – but then, the British dominated India for 200 years, and Africa for less than 100.

    EG

  • As an American living in London I have been amazed at the Kerry-Edwards campaign merchandise on display in the city, mostly in well-to-do neighborhoods where I suppose they haven’t got anything better to do. Everyone I meet naturally assumes that, as an enlightened person attending university, I must be voting for Kerry (who incidentally seriously creeps me out). I always delight in informing them I will be voting for Bush. The only time they have the guts to arguing, as opposed to simply staring at me in silent horror, is when they’ve been drinking. It seems to be the only time Brits become confrontational.

  • ” ‘… the oil for food scandal has lined the pockets of Saddam, the UN and Total Fina Elf; etc’ documentaries have become a tiresome bore.”

    I missed all these documentaries. Were they really that boring?

  • lindenen

    GRH,

    Electoral-Vote guy is seriously out of touch with reality:

    ” If you look at British and Canadian publications, such as The BBC, The Guardian, The Economist, and The Globe and Mail, you get a picture not colored by partisan electoral considerations. You sometimes wonder if they are reporting the same war as the U.S. media. The situation in Iraq has deteriorated very badly. Over 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died in the war, mostly women and children.”

    Look at this quote from his page. The man must be one of the most naive and gullible people I’ve ever seen.

    delmore mcnamara,

    “Until the reverse is true, Americans will always resent Brits as an unnecessary (& let’s be honest, often whiny & childishly cynical) drag on their limited resources & Brits will always revert to the characteristic resentment of the irresponsible & dependent.”

    Do Americans resent Britain? I really don’t think so. They resent receiving anonymous mail urging them to vote a certain way but I don’t think we resent Brits at all. Most people I know are ecstatic you guys are with us.

    I don’t get either how Britain is a drag on our resources. Sure, you need to fix your health care system, and Blair is an idiot for cutting funding for the military, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You’d probably feel better about yourselves if you increased military spending.

  • Paul Marks

    The “Conservative” Mr O. claims that the American government “ignores the needs of many Americans” (this is from his show on C4 the other night) – by this he means that there is not enough Welfare State spending.

    Sadly “entitlement program” spending is at all time time record high (although this does not stop Senator Kerry from promising yet more programs).

    Facts are not relevant. To the Mr O. and the Daily Mail crowd America is a wicked free market place where the government hardly exists.

    If only this was true.

  • Obone seems to band-wagon jumping. Everyone else is bashing Bush so he might as well get in his licks as well. Its pathetic and makes him look like a complete idiot. But then again in the past few years the British press does not really care how idiotic they look to sane people.

  • Didn’t the Mail also run the article a few months back interviewing American authors, only to find out that our intelligentsia is uniformly opposed to Bushwa – and it just happened that all 34 authors interviewed are known lefties?

    Don’t get me wrong – there is Euro resentment on this side of the pond, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say any of it is directed at Britain, and most of what you’ll find is notional, rather than personal and particular.

    Most Americans like Brits and the Irish, (even the Northern Irish, or even the Eire Irish, depending on your viewpoint), have tangible distate for the idea of being French (silly hats, stinky cheese, and your wife and mistress hold hands at your funeral? Wierd…) and are suspicious of the Germans, and are blissfully unaware of the anti-American wave apparently sweeping Britain. (I vacationed there a few weeks back and didn’t notice it – most Brits in the Midlands and the North where I visited were really pleased to have American visitors in their neighborhood, and fairly supportive of Bush/Blair’s foreign affairs exploits – probably similar to the warm reception a Frog would receive in Red country, where the political isn’t concurrent with the personal).

    But no, you’ll probably never see us taking to the streets to protest some foreign government’s decision – to the extent that apathy enters into it, it’s because we really don’t have to care. The closest we have come recently to major demonstrations against a country are France – and that’s because a demonstration is a nice middle ground between sending in the 82nd, and saying nothing.

    Europe matters, sure – but not as much as our own president does, and for the most part our president doesn’t matter that much because we’re a mercantile society. So the health of local businesses matters a lot more to us than who Jacques Chirac is dispeptic towards.

    Ps. Regarding the French – Dubya summed up our ambivalent feelings best (ambivalence meaning we’ll take your wine, cheese and women, now go away, don’t bother us). At a recent dinner party, Jacques Chirac’s name was up on a screen as part of a presentation of some sort. Bush was overheard to say “I always wondered how you spell “jackass” in French…”

  • A_t

    Delmore Macnamara,

    “As others above have noted, the US could do perfectly well without the UK. Until the reverse is true, Americans will always resent Brits as an unnecessary (& let’s be honest, often whiny & childishly cynical) drag on their limited resources & Brits will always revert to the characteristic resentment of the irresponsible & dependent. It is like the Welfare State writ large.”

    Errr.. the UK could do perfectly fine without the US as far as I can see. Maybe it’s just my skewed wrong-side-of-the-Atlantic perspective, but I have trouble seeing how we’re dependent on you guys, or indeed what exactly we get out of this ‘special relationship’.

    The US gets a handy place to stash weapons & planes, and a useful ally in the UN & other diplomatic talking shops. Sometimes a few extra soldiers to help out in foreign adventures. The UK doesn’t get any of those; when was the last time the US really got on board to help sort out anything we were bothered about that the US wasn’t already doing something about anyway?

    Yes, the US is the more powerful partner in the relationship, without a doubt, but deducing that the weaker partner is dependent because of this is not good reasoning.

    Oh, & which resources in particular are we a “drag” on, pray tell?

  • Verity

    Denise W – I’m finding Oborne’s sudden rant rather amazing. He is a very conservative, very articulate columnist and he loathes Tony Blair, like all normal people. In fact, he has some very good insights into Blair’s character which might be quite illuminating for Americans to read. He is also, generally, pro American. This column must have been in response to something.

  • John SF

    Al Maviva:
    You’d be wrong to peg Oborne as leftist.
    He’s a Conservative.
    And that is part of the current surge in anti-Americnism among the London political/media chatterati, both right and left.

    Works like this:
    - Blair is eeevill!
    - Tony is aligned with Bush/US
    - if we damaged them, maybe we damage him
    - so go for it!
    - Bash Blair! Bash!

    Hence Michael Howards’ opportunist irresposibility; attack on Iraq and claim “of course we support the war, we just attacking Blair’s lack of candour.”

    Rubbish. Howard knows full well the potential for this to damage British strategic interest in the Atlantic Alliance.
    He simply thinks that the prospect of lumping in Iraq with other ‘trust’ issues is too good to miss, and too hell with the damage done.

    Oborne simply takes this to it’s logical conclusion.
    Tories. Yecch.

  • HitNRunI95

    “Until the reverse is true, Americans will always resent Brits as an unnecessary”

    Where did that come from? I can’t think of an American who resents Britain, excepting isolationists who think that of all international relationships.

    Britain may not be necessary in a literal sense, but the reverse is also true. Indeed, the countries that find America “necessary” are also the ones which resent it the most- that is, the various mainland European utopias which have been built around the premise that defense is a superfluous thing that Americans will see to.

    As for Osbourne, I wonder exactly what his article said. I have a hard time believe a journalist could be stupid enough to think that the American President is actually selected by the several hundred members of the Electoral College, but I’ve read strager articles.

  • Pete_London

    Oh, & which resources in particular are we a “drag” on, pray tell?

    Well, from 1945 to 1991 your grandparents arses, your parents arses and your arse (assuming you’re old enough to have had an arse by 1991) were covered by the US military against hundreds of thousands of Soviet troops and bombs which made a mighty big bang. Incredible as it may seem, the US taxpayer bore the burden of paying for this. Perhaps a little thank you to our American friends for this tiny sacrifice may be in order?

  • Pete_London

    Whoops. I’ll hand that one over to A_t

  • Chris

    Europeans do not hate Americans so much as fear them. When I see those rabid Christians jumping up and down I just want to curl up in a ball and rock back and forth. Sorry to say that’s why Bush got compared to a Nazi a few times over in England: you cannot argue with blind faith. Think of the witchfinder general and his prey:”you are Satan’s spawn!” “no i’m not” “the Devil lies!!” And she burns. This is basically the argument.

    Oh yeah, a murder is a murder and a corpse is a corpse. I’m sick of hearing about ‘American’ and ‘British’ lives being lost in the ‘war’. Like most people in England (and Sacremento city I might add) I do not even know my neighbour. Why should we be expected to give a shit about trained killers getting shot in the line of duty? What about the near 100,000 dead civilians? I just don’t understand how people responsible for all these deaths can claim the moral high ground. I suspect that either God, or some incomprensible utilitarian argument can be be invoked at this point.

    The bottom line is this: America is now the boss of the world and we don’t like it. Plenty of other countries have had their go at Imperialism, now the Yanks are in the driving seat. The big difference is that the stakes are much higher than before. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the human race is heading towards environmental catastrophe in the next couple of centuries if we go on like this. And ‘America’ just don’t give a cotton pickin’ whatever. At least that’s the perception. From reading some of the shameful Bush/war apologists on this subject it’s easy to see why people in Europe ‘hate’ America(ns) and why they seem so indifferent to our opinions.

  • ernest young

    Chris,

    Sorry to spoil your ego trip, but your comment is the most arrant piece of nonsense, that I have seen for a long while.

    Without going through the piece, point by point, and helping you to see the error of your ways. I will take the liberty of chastising your stupidity in a general sort of way.

    Your use of such phrases as ‘rabid Christians’, would indicate that you are an intolerant bigot, just how do Christians become Nazis?

    That you feel the need to repeat so many of the worn out cliches that anti-war and anti-US groups used many months ago, shows that you either prefer to ignore the many detailed rebuttals, or you just haven’t kept up with your reading of all those pamphlets those groups shower on you teens.

    Environmental ‘catastrophe’, more red rhetoric from the left, sure there will be change, but catastrophe, I don’t think so. The world is in a perpetual state of change anyway. Incidentally, the biggest pollution is human beings, do you have a trite little answer to that problem? Perhaps something along the lines of – doing away with all capitalists.

    I suppose you blame Bush for not signing the Kyoto treaty, well news for you, your buddy Clinton was the one who refused to sign that piece of garbage, perhaps the only sensible thing he did in eight years.

    Why don’t you go and do some serious reading and then take the time to write something sensible to add to the debate, or alternatively, just keep up-to-date with current affairs… a well meaning eight year old could have done better than your dreadful contribution.

  • Johnathan

    peter_london’s remarks earlier up the thread are dead-on. Well said.

    FYI, historian Andrew Roberts has a good piece rubbishing the Oborne article in the (London) Times today.

    rgds

  • Euan Gray

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the human race is heading towards environmental catastrophe in the next couple of centuries if we go on like this

    Off topic, but – you’re wrong. Quite apart from the fact that the “evidence” for global warming is to say the least unpersuasive, it has been speculated that warming causes increases in greenhouse gas, rather than the other way about. Even if not, a single large volcanic eruption spews much more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere than humanity can manage. The world heats and cools due to a variety of factors we have no control or influence over, not least the periodic changes in the earth’s orbit around the sun, precession of the rotational axis of the planet, and the solar spot cycle. Even the military-industrial complex and global capitalism cannot affect these things, and in comparison the effect humanity can have on the global environment is, quite honestly, insignificant.

    Trees are another good one – trees, as most people know, emit oxygen as a by-product of photosynthesis. They also, as fewer people understand, emit carbon dioxide in darkness when they are not photosynthesising. They aren’t the “lungs of the world” as portrayed in Green propaganda.

    The extinction of species is something that happens, whatever humanity does about it. You CANNOT preserve the world in a static condition, for example as it is now with its current crop of species. The environment changes, through processes we cannot control and did not cause, and as a result some species disappear since the environment they evolved to cope with no longer exists. Other species arise to exploit the changed environment. This is called evolution, and it happens all the time – whatever we do. Over 99% of all species that ever lived are extinct, and that is before man even evolved.

    Even if everything did go disastrously wrong for humanity, which is by no means certain, our level of technological advancement means that we do not in fact need a healthy external ecosystem in which to survive (although this is no excuse for trashing what is already there). We can generate power, and with that heat, cooling, fresh air and light, without recourse to fossil fuels, the sun, wind or tides. We can synthesise some foods and clone others, and can make them better for human consumption than naturally grown foods.

    Read some basic science if you doubt any of that. Since I’m not even talking about leaving this planet, it really isn’t rocket science.

    EG

  • Shawn

    “When I see those rabid Christians jumping up and down I just want to curl up in a ball and rock back and forth”

    Yes we Americans really need advice from people who have allowed their continent to be overun by the forces of Islam to such an extent that filmakers, politicians and anyone else with a negative opinion about Islam must now live in fear for their lives.

  • A_t

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    oh! hello…

    “Yes we Americans really need advice from people who have allowed their continent to be overun by the forces of Islam to such an extent that filmakers, politicians and anyone else with a negative opinion about Islam must now live in fear for their lives.”

    oh, it’s shawn’s mad conspiracy theories again.

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • Shawn

    A_t, still practicing the ‘ignorance is bliss’ approach to life I see.

    There is no conspiracy theory here or in what I said.
    Just the facts.

    “‘Islamist’ held in Van Gogh case ”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3978787.stm

    Care to amuse me by trying to explain this away?

  • A_t

    Shawn, the conspiracy part of it is the notion that our countries are “overrun” by Islamists to the point where criticism is impossible without fear of death. There is certainly danger from a few fanatics if you criticise Islam but a small number of highly motivated fanatics, willing to murder for their cause, do not make us ‘overrun’ any more than a few maniac anti-abortionists who go around murdering doctors make the US run by extreme christians, or the Washington Sniper (who killed a number more people as far as i recall) means the US is ‘overrun’ by fanatical murderous muslim converts.

    There are many, many newspaper columnists, politicians & regular folk over here who are critical of Islam to various degrees, & almost all are alive & not about to be killed. One politician & one film maker in one country over a year, although highly worrying, do not make us ‘overrun’.

    Having said that, obviously this is worrying, & i’m not burying my head in the sand although there’s little I can personally do; I just hope our secret services & police are working to inflitrate what fanatical organisations there are.

    Have you been over here recently (or ever) by the way, or do you just construct your notions via the right-wing US press?

  • Matt

    Yes, anti-Americanism is a sad reality all over the world. I feel its simply part of “hatred of the superpower”. Britian for most of its empire’s history was mocked harshly by English speaking colonies and much of mainland Europe. Nobody likes the “big kid on the block”. I think the fact that American media plays a more dominant role in English speaking societies around the world further reminds us of our inferiority complexes.
    In short, America’s ok with me. I can only hope that reason and the shedding of jealous ignorance can let other people see that America isn’t that bad.

  • Matt

    Yes, anti-Americanism is a sad reality all over the world. I feel its simply part of “hatred of the superpower”. Britian for most of its empire’s history was mocked harshly by English speaking colonies and much of mainland Europe. Nobody likes the “big kid on the block”. I think the fact that American media plays a more dominant role in English speaking societies around the world further reminds us of our inferiority complexes.
    In short, America’s ok with me. I can only hope that reason and the shedding of jealous ignorance can let other people see that America isn’t that bad.