Tuesday, 2 November 2004

Why Don't They Like America?

I just found this excellent article, thanks to Coofer Cat about resentment against America. Written by an American for Americans, it clearly explains the source of anti-American feelings that can be witnessed frequently around the globe. Read it and think about what it says. Then I have two anecdotes to add to it.

Last year, I went to Guatemala and Mexico. On the way out, I had to transit via Houston and on the way back via Newark. None of those two airports have a transit facility which meant that, even though I was only spending a few hours in American territory each time (2 hours one way, 4 the other way), I had to go through the whole immigration procedure, as if I was stopping in the US, which meant filling the green visa waiver card and going through passport control. As it happens, I have travelled to the Middle East for work quite often and my passport has a few visas and stamps from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. As a result, custom officers on both occasions did ask why I had "so many stamps from the Middle East." In my case, it just meant that I spent 5 minutes more going through passport control but I suspect having a passport issued by a European country and just being in transit did help.

Last week, I was in Argentina and was having a mate and a chat about everything and nothing with a few Argentines. The subject of the discussion eventually got to the current Argentinean economic crisis, as it does quite often when you chat to people over there. Argentines see the IMF as the source of their problems for being so intransigent about their external debt, while they are very lenient when it comes to the USA's debt which is even larger. Their conclusion is that the IMF is an instrument of the USA and the step from blaming the IMF to blaming America for their problems is a small one to take. Of course, the whole problem is more complicated than this but the resentment is very real, to the point where it surpasses the resentment against the UK over the Falkland War. To explain what it means, I'll just point out that the first man made object I saw in Argentina, when crossing the overland border from Brazil, was a big board saying "Las Malvinas son Argentinas", "The Falklands are Argentinean".

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