JAMES M. LINDSAY: I’d like to welcome you to today’s meeting here at the Council on Foreign Relations. I’m Jim Lindsay, the director of studies here at the Council.
Before I indulge in the privilege of introducing today’s very distinguished panel, a couple of housekeeping details I have to go over otherwise the vice president of New York Meetings Program will slap my hands, and that is, first off, please turn off your cell phones, Blackberries, other electronic devices or put them on a silent or vibrating mode for the remainder of the meeting. And I am also asked to remind everybody that this meeting today is on the record, so anything you say can be held against you, and that applies to the panelists as well.
Our meeting here today is about anti-Americanism, and it’s my privilege to introduce three very distinguished people who are doing very interesting work on this topic. First, I’ll introduce our guests who are coming to the council.
Professor Peter Katzenstein of Cornell University and Professor Robert Keohane now at Princeton, and they are the co-editors of a forthcoming book I believe out from Cornell University Press in October called “Anti-Americanisms in World Politics,” which I had the pleasure of reading this weekend. It was quite good.
And also on our panel today is my dear colleague, Julia Sweig, who is the author of—and here I have the actual book to hold up—“Friendly Fire,” which I am told can be purchased out in the hallway, to put in a sort of blatant plug for the book, which, I have to point out, was reviewed in yesterday’s New York Times quite timely, I thought; it was a good review.
JULIA SWEIG: Yes, I thought so too. (Laughter.)
LINDSAY: More important, I believe off the—what else did the magazine say?
SWEIG: We can say it—we’re going to go off the record for this tiny amount. (Note: Brief off-the-record comments not transcribed.)
SWEIG: We weren’t allowed to advertise that.
LINDSAY: I have to have a little clap here for my esteemed fellow. (Applause.)
SWEIG: Thank you.
LINDSAY: That’s the last time I’ll be nice in the next 90 minutes. Okay? (Laughter.)
The topic here today is anti-Americanism. Now, so perhaps we should start off with some basic issues. It comes as no surprise to anyone here in this room that the United States is less favorable or viewed less favorably in many parts of the world than it was four or five years ago and this has caused a great deal of talk about anti- Americanism, but perhaps maybe we can make sure we’re all talking about the same thing.
I’d like begin with a question of what is it we mean by the term “anti-Americanism”? If I could start with Bob and Peter initially, that would be great.
ROBERT O. KEOHANE: Okay, well, we normally mean in ordinary parlance simply the expression of unfavorable attitudes toward the United States, as in the Pew polls that are so famous. The problem is that this really conflates two very different sorts of views. One is negative opinions about what the United States does—for example, opposition to American policy in a variety of ways—and the other side of it would be bias; that is, very strong views that are opposed to what the United States is. And the biased person doesn’t really take in new information; no matter what the United States does, it’s wrong. A person who is saying I don’t like the United States to Pew because of an opinion may well change that view with new information and new events. So it’s extremely different, from our point of view, whether these people who are saying they’re anti-American or saying “I’m unfavorable to the United States” are simply expressing opinion, which could change rather readily with a change in policy, or whether they’re expressing a bias which will not change readily with a change in policy.
LINDSAY: Is there anything you want to add to that, Peter?
PETER J. KATZENSTEIN: Well, I think that’s the definition we use in order to study it, but anti-Americanism is also political currency on the table, which politicians use in order to maintain or leverage themselves into power. And often we are the incidental target or the object which will have been used for totally different purposes. And in order to understand—I mean, the title of the book is “Anti- Americanisms,” in the plural. It is very important to understand those games of politics.
LINDSAY: Julia, would you be comfortable with how Peter and Bob had defined the term and how they envision it?
SWEIG: Sure. It’s a term that changes depending upon where we are in time and space, as the two of you say. And I think I do distinguish in my own writing between a kind of ideological, prejudicial, biased-based anti-Americanism, which I associate more with sort of the margins of political dialogue, especially in the 20 th century, with what I call something bigger and more of a default, visceral response that I kind of describe as anti-America, which actually is really about American power and politics and domestic politics and history and many other elements, including policy. So I think I would just layer on.
LINDSAY: So you see anti-Americanisms as well, different kinds of—
SWEIG: Absolutely. It’s very hard to—there’s—you cannot possibly draw one sweeping description or theory to explain the very diverse phenomena that’s out there.
LINDSAY: So how would you describe those anti-Americanisms, then?
SWEIG: Well, I set out to sort of answer one fundamental question, and the answer doesn’t even have the word in it. The question I try to answer is, how is it possible for one president and one war to so successfully galvanize global opinion against the United States in such record time? (Laughter.) And the answer to that question—I think, you know, we could stop with Iraq and unilaterism pre- and post-9/11 and Abu Ghraib and WMD mischaracterizations.
You could just stop with that. But I think the broader phenomena that I’m trying to get my arms around, Jim, is something deeper, and it is probably—to encapsulate it, it’s something intangible that the United States has lost, and that is the benefit of the doubt. Most especially, I’m looking—and Peter and Bob’s book looks at countries that are not only allies but more typically, I think, countries that have long-standing anti-Americanism as one of their traits—my interest in this—looking at America’s friends and allies, where the falling out has been especially rampant and pronounced just in the last few years..
KEOHANE: I think our analysis supports that. If you go back to the Pew poll in 2002, in 35 of 42 countries polled, there was—a plurality of respondents were favorable to the United States, and that’s extraordinary for a big power, for a great power. So it’s not the case that it just—that America is so big and powerful that people hate us. That can’t be true because throughout the 1990s, when the U.S. was big and powerful, up until the spring of 2002, you had this overwhelmingly positive view toward the United States. I mean, I think you’re just right. It’s a matter of a very rampant turn. And it’s clearly a matter, as—you didn’t use the word—but it’s the same phrase we used: “distrust.” We put distrust in between opinion and bias on some sort of scale, and the benefit of the doubt has been lost, but it is a lot of distrust. And our concern is whether this distrust will turn into bias over a period of time, if it’s reinforced. And then it becomes very hard to change.
LINDSAY: I want to come back to the issue of distrust in a second. But perhaps before we get there, maybe Julia will talk about sort of the flip side of the coin. We’ve been talking about places where the United States isn’t terribly popular. But you can also look at public opinion data in certain parts of the world—the United States is very popular.
One of the interesting things is if you go to India—a population of more than a billion people—in this period in which Julia is seen—talks about America invariably going down in the case of India—it has gone way up.
Likewise—I struck in reading Peter and Bob’s book. You talk about preparing Japan today versus Japan in 1960. In 1960, the United States was very unpopular. Today, the Japanese feel very close to us.
So I’m trying to get a sense of how do I balance sort of notions about—sort of this image that we’re hated out there versus—at least in very large parts of the world where we’re loved. And I note reading The New York Times piece last week on issues in Darfur, that the people in the refugee camps were chanting, “We want the USA, we want the USA.” So if you could maybe sort of help me make sense of that.
KATZENSTEIN: I mean, one could, of course, think about head counts and population, and there are a lot of Indians and a lot of Chinese. So on the head count, you may be right, that there are some large countries where pro-Americanism matters.
I will tell you that when studying anti-Americanism, a person has to think about—there is pro-Americanism, and over the decades, there has been a lot of pro-Americanism. I wouldn’t be sitting here if there hadn’t been pro-Americans in Germany after 1945. And actually, I’m part of the cultural diplomacy which Karen Hughes was describing just a few days ago in this meeting.
But in goes in waves; that is, there are waves of pro- and anti- Americanism. And the wave in the 1960s and the wave in the early 1980s and the wave now—anti-Americanism—has a certain regularity to them in which something underlines—which we’re right to characterize—and policies converge and create deep resentment. And I think Bob is right in saying this skepticism may harden, and resentment may become bias. And if that were to happen, especially among allies, it will be a very different ballgame.
SWEIG: One of the things that distinguishes India and Japan is in the last few years, the United States as a government as policy has actively cultivated a deeper relationship with both countries. The relationship with Japan has been deep for some time, but on the security front, it has especially, given China and given problems with South Korea, cultivated Japan assiduously, and likewise India.
So one can say that while policies are a piece of the—of what can, quote, “undermine our credibility abroad,” they can also help reinforce it when we put our minds to it, and that’s one special case about India and Japan.
Plus in the case of India, I think, you know, I read a little bit about the history of our close alliances with the U.K. and Korea and Germany and Turkey, and my guess is that, if the United States goes into this strategic partnership with India expecting the kind of perpetual deference that we tend to expect from those other countries, we will be rudely surprised, and they won’t—that embrace of the United States that you might see right now won’t be quite so deep.
KEOHANE: One of the striking things—speaking of countries that are favorable to the United States—is the reversal from the Cold War. There was a poll done in February 2005. It’s not a Pew poll; it’s a commercial poll of a 1,000 urban people in each of 20 countries, including the United States. American’s were the most favorable toward America, you’d be happy to know, of any of the people, but—(laughter)—but out of the next eight, the other eight countries which were on balance favorable, where you had more favorable or unfavorable, included Poland, India, Russia, China and Hungary. That’s five of the eight were former either enemies, or in the case of India, very, very standoffish at the U.S. The bottom five, the most negative were Mexico, Germany, South Korea, France and Greece.
SWEIG: So they get to know us and what happens? (Laughter.)
KEOHANE: So it’s very a interesting turnaround.
KATZENSTEIN: Can I just—it’s not that they get to know us. I think they became—they regard themselves as the true Americans; that is they had—they developed a stake in the American—(inaudible)—protecting—(inaudible)—world order, multilateralism, consultation, diplomacy, and it paid off for them. And I think when we stepped back from it, they felt betrayed.
LINDSAY: Well, I’m trying to understand this, Peter, because it—the title of your book is “Anti-Americanisms”—
LINDSAY:—which would suggest that there are variety of different reasons for disliking the United States, and indeed, I think in your manuscript you have a typology of various things.
LINDSAY: You talk about liberal anti-Americanism, there’s social anti-Americanism, sovereign-nationalist anti-Americanism, and then radical anti-Americanism.
And so I’m—I was surprised that you—you really seem to be focusing with that explanation, the liberal anti-Americanism, and it’s the—I guess, maybe I misread what you were arguing, but it seemed that it should be more complex than that.
KATZENSTEIN: Well, I only—the types we generate from talking to people and studying. The disappointment of these allies that you were talking about, I think refers to the political capital on the table, which, you know, it paid off well for them, and that political capital suddenly has been removed. And so these political elites and mass public are saying: Well, what’s the new game? I mean, who are we? What are we supposed to do?
And that is, I think, it’s not knowing us better; it’s the disorientation, because we’ve changed the rules of the game on them. And I think that’s quite profound among these allies.
KEOHANE: Let me say a word about the types, though, just so you understand what we’re arguing. The liberal anti-American—think of the—a person in Britain or Australia who is very unhappy with the United States, believes in what he or she sees as American values, and thinks we are not living up to them. This is the disillusionment, partly, which Peter is talking about.
The social anti-American, in our view—and the archetype would be northern Europe—thinks that American society has fallen very far short of the social democratic ideal: death penalty, no comprehensive health care system, no strong welfare state.
So that these people may see American society as somewhat alien from their view of what a good society is. The sovereign-nationalist anti- Americans and the Chinese are exemplary of this, in our view, really often admire the United States, want to be rich and powerful like us. They don’t like spy planes flying over their territory or the U.S. intervening, in their view, in their civil war. So they only get angry when we’re doing something like bombing their embassy—(inaudible)—sending a spy plane. Otherwise, they have very high ratings, but if you had polled them right after the bombing of the embassy, they would not have been in the top set of pro-American groups.
And finally, of course, the radical anti-Americans, who were, during the Cold War, the Marxist-Leninists, for whom the United States could do nothing right, are now largely the Islamic fundamentalists, and the common element is that these people believe the United States is a force for bad in the world fundamentally and ought to be weakened or destroyed for the world to become better, whether “better” means become socialist or “better” means become Islamic fundamentalist.
LINDSAY: I want to go back to the word that Julia dropped in there, “policies,” because I think, as Bob and Peter talk about in the book, I think one of the sort of standard ways of framing this debate is that it’s either about what we do in the world, which is often criticisms that come from the left, versus it’s about who we are. And part of your typology sort of touched into that. And I just wondered if I could get Julia first to talk a little bit about is it really useful to think in terms of policies versus values or who we are, what we do versus who we are, or is it more complicated than that.
SWEIG: Well, there’s no one smoking gun. And to say that it’s only a set of policies would be inadequate. And I differ from President Bush in that I don’t argue that this is about who we are in the sense that he does—clash of civilizations and values, and they hate us for our freedom—but I do think, drawing on a couple of the typologies that Bob and Peter have outlined, that there is something tangible that is out there that, by comparison to who we were in the 20 th century, the American century—I’d call this the anti-American century—that by comparisons to who we were—our domestic project at home in the 20 th century really helped reinforce our credibility, our legitimacy abroad—in this century, the expansion of inequality, the erosion of our middle class meritocracy, the palpable xenophobia that we’ve seen around the Dubai Ports debate, around immigration, those very symbolic gestures—including, I would add to that, Guantanamo, although there’s a policy piece of that too but there’s a very identity piece related to it—that does hurt us, it will hurt us in trying to recover the benefit of the doubt in this country.
The policy piece of it, in a way, I see the policies of the last few years as sort of having the effect of stripping back a band-aid that had covered these long-latent resentments among our allies—that’s my principal focus—that had covered them for some time—resentments over power, resentments over certain aspects of the Cold War, its dark side or even its bright side, but the kind of trade-off that that involved—resentments over what happened after the Cold War, our understanding of it as a political class where we were triumphant, we are the last guys standing, so that necessarily meant that everybody would necessarily want to embrace our model.
And that assumption, I think, really helped get us to where we are today.
And then something else, which is about policies, but it’s a bigger dynamic, which is something that I call the 80/20 dynamic. It seems that we are increasingly, despite our power and our resources, getting our information about what makes other countries tick from a very narrow band of interlocutors. And I’ll tell an anecdote later to illustrate that, but that narrow band of interlocutors tend to tell us what we want to hear, and have become very good—especially I’m talking about at least among countries that represent themselves as friendly to us or that we assume are friendly—at telling us what we want to hear, singing from the right hymnbook at the right strategic moment. And we like this, and it tends to have the effect of creating bad policies. Here I’m thinking about the lead-up to the Iraq war; the role of Chalabi, for example. There are other cases.
So I would say that it isn’t an either/or; it’s actually a great—it’s many elements simultaneously. And depending upon where we are, they—one is stronger than the other.
KEOHANE: But there are elements here which are very old; that is, Americans view—wanting to—as you say, to hear what we want to hear. Toqueville said—in 1835 he said, “The Americans in their intercourse with strangers appear impatient of the smallest censure and insatiable with praise. The unceasingly harass you to extort praise. And if you resist their entreaties, they fall to praising themselves.” (Laughter.) “It would seem”—“It would seem as if, doubting their own merit, they wish to have it constantly exhibited before their eyes.” Well, there are certain features of national character that seem to be rather enduring.
SWEIG: Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s not new, not new at all.
KATZENSTEIN: And Toqueville was a Frenchman. (Laughter.)
LINDSAY: Look, we have spoken to this point on the assumption that anti-Americanism is a significant phenomenon because presumably it matters in some way to us. But I note in reading your book, Peter, that you’re actually somewhat agnostic on the question as to sort of the consequences of anti-Americanism. You—I think we talked before about distrust sliding into bias, but I think one of the things you raised is that it’s not at all clear that there have been real substantive consequences of this anti-Americanism.
Can I draw you out a little bit about it, both in regard to the question of its significance, but also, how would we know?
How—what would be sort of the advanced warning for us to know that we slipped from distrust, which we can sort of deal with, to bias, which, if I understand the way you framed it, is very hard to recover from.
KATZENSTEIN: Well, on the consequence side—this is almost the nice thing about research. You surprise yourself. It never occurred to us to research this until somebody said, “Well, why should I care about this book? Does it matter or not?” And that was a pretty important insight, so we say we’ve spent three months researching this, and we came up with a rather surprising finding—surprising to us—saying, “Well, in the short term, it didn’t seem to matter all that much.” So the bottom line of the consequences is it’s—we’re saying if you think and manage in the short term, the burden of proof is really on you in the political debate.
We looked at different dimensions of what we mean by “matters.” One was the war on terror. And it’s not surprising that basically foreign governments cooperate in the war on terror. It’s not publicized, but I’m sure there’s much more sharing of intelligence and coordination now after 9/11 than there was before—let’s say when the Europeans had TREVI—when they had TREVI, which was intelligence gathering and sharing in Europe, starting in 1976. The American administration arrives in the early 1980s and knocks at the door and says, “We want to be let in.” And the Europeans are saying, “No. This is European operations. Thank you very much. You don’t have an IRA. You don’t have the Red Army.” Okay? The Reagan administration wanted to be part of that. But this would be inconceivable today.
So in the war on terror, we don’t have data to report, but the indirect evidence which one can gather seems to suggest far-reaching policy coordination.
Bob looked at public diplomacy and can talk to that.
KEOHANE: Yeah, there are some data—if you ask, “What’s the relationship between attitudes toward the United States, as in these polls like the Pew poll, and whether countries were part of the anti-Iraq coalition?” There’s no correlation whatsoever. It’s very striking.
If you ask which countries signed Article 98 agreements on the International Criminal Court, which prevents—which agreed not to extradite American nationals to the court, there’s once again no correlation between whether you’ve signed the agreements if you’re a democracy and whether your opinion is pro- or anti-American.
So it’s quite clear that there’s not a direct one-to-one relationship between anti-American attitudes and policy. And, of course, if you think about it, there probably shouldn’t be because governments have their own interests. They’re pursuing their own polices. They have a variety of reasons to do it. But we should be worried about or concerned about anti-Americanism in the long run, as Jim was saying—distrust going to bias. But it shouldn’t lead to us to jump to the conclusion that somehow because a lot of people tell pollsters that they’re anti-American, all of a sudden their governments behave in ways that are hostile or difficult for us.
SWEIG: Well, here I’m going to step into the Western Hemisphere to answer your question because I think all you have to do is take a look at the picture in Latin America today to recognize that at a certain point, distrust does float into bias. And we have upon us right now a situation in which the United States has—is losing influence, leverage and credibility, is unable to make manifest its trade agenda, has lost—I mean, you could say we’re losing elections—that would be a very sweeping way to say it.
But if you look at the rejection in a country like Bolivia of the major components of American policy priorities over the last 15 years, whether on drugs, whether on trade, whether on economic models, you see votes that are not only directed against political elites that have been historically associated with the American set of policy priorities, but indirectly against the United States. And you see, of course, as Peter noted, that the domestic political potential for the United States to be a foil and to help get people elected is immense, and some politicians take advantage of it, some do not.
But I would say that in this hemisphere right now, as a result of policies and as a result of legacy issues, we—the United States has incredibly lost significant standing, and that it does have consequence. It has consequence on the security front, it has consequence on the democracy front, it has consequence on the public diplomacy front. And I could go on.
But moving beyond Latin America—you know, I know that we differ in our view in terms of consequences—I can’t think of one major global issue on the table today, whether it’s proliferation or genocide or infectious disease or poverty and development, you name it, that the United States is capable of solving by itself. And I do not—and that’s why the United States needs to cultivate its partnerships, its allies in a way that’s more effective than we’ve done recently. And Iraq here has major spillover; that is to say it might be that you can’t correlate the participation in the coalition of the willing—or that who was opposed to Iraq didn’t translate into the failure to cooperate on other fronts. But within Iraq, the United States by and large is alone, with some obvious other cousins?
So I really do see that as a manifestation of the sort of bottom falling out, of our credibility being lost, of this distrust floating into bias, and of the—having policy consequences that are significant, they’re significant in a long-standing way. So I do think that it matters.
And another issue on which we will see it matter in the future is failed states and the relationship between terrorism and failed states.
So it may be that this is brewing. My view is that we are looking at a generation that it will take us both of policy and style to get it back so that we do have the capacity to organize other countries around the initiatives that are expected that a single superpower will provide. It is expected that we will be the provider of global public good, and right now we’re not seen as doing that.
KEOHANE: Well, I agree with that entirely, I think. Although it’s not necessarily the case that anti-Americanism is the causal factor. The causal factor there is bad American policy in a variety of ways, which leads other governments to distrust us and make them less willing to ally with us. So I think you’re entirely right about that; we can’t solve any problems by ourselves.
And anti-Americanism in the form of distrust or bias may follow from that, but I don’t think its causality has, so far, gone the other way. It’s not that other governments were forced by distrust of the United States or anti-American public opinion to resist U.S. initiatives that were themselves devoted toward the public good of the world and pull back from those.
Now, that’s the danger, that in fact, for example, in a new administration, you’d have different policies that were much more constructive, and there would be so much distrust that they wouldn’t be followed. And we don’t see that yet. We’re as worried about that as you are, I think.
SWEIG: That’s why, if I can just—no, I think we completely concur. That’s why I don’t have the word “anti- Americanism” in my title, and I try not to use it all that much, because I think you’re right, it is a phenomenon that is a bit different and you cannot necessarily connect the dots yet. But what I’m trying to describe is this sort of international global visceral response to the United States that does cross governments and populations, and that the polls don’t necessarily show accurately, but that is tangible.
LINDSAY: I take it you both—all of you agree that this is a problem worth worrying about, whether we have actually already crossed the point where distrust goes into bias or teetering on the edge of that. So my question to you, then, is what do you do about it? What are the steps? If you had the ear of the president or people running for the presidency in 2008, and they were to say, “Okay, what do I do? What concrete, tangible, specific things should I do?” what would you tell him or her?
KATZENSTEIN: Well, one distressing thing about the long term is that we are all dead, as Keynes observed. But of course it saves social science, because in the long term, social science isn’t very good about predicting long-term things. What we can do in the short term, adhere to policies which really correspond with our values. And that we haven’t done. So the charge of hypocrisy, I think, you know, seems pretty deep these days. So in the short term I would say live by the values which you uphold. And that would be the first one.
The second one, I think, is apologize. It’s hard to do for politicians. Clinton did go to Africa and apologize. This was one of very rare events when an American president apologized. This administration isn’t very good at apologizing. So there are things we can do.
KEOHANE: I think we have to have a general perspective that’s more balanced. Take Guantanamo. There’s been an enormous, enormous spot on our record. It’s probably the single symbol, with Abu Ghraib, that is used around the world to show how the United States is not fulfilling its values.
Now, the cost of closing Guantanamo may well be to let go several hundred terrorists who no longer have any special information or connection, because they’ve been out of touch for so long, and may do us some damage, but it’s not clear that the supply of terrorists is what’s limiting terrorism, the supply of potential terrorists.
So there will be some costs there, but the benefits would be enormous for the U.S. public diplomacy. And in the last five years, the balance has been entirely the other way; if there’s any danger that action X might hurt American security in a concrete way, it’s taken as much more important than the benefits of showing that we care about our values and that we want to fulfill them.
But we ought to close Guantanamo as fast as possible, and there may be some costs of that. And I don’t—those should be at least—at least be borne, it seems to me, as opposed to maintaining this open sore.
SWEIG: Well, I think we should close it and give it back. I’ll see you one and raise you. (Laughter, laughs.) I know a government that would be happy to have it back.
The symbolism would be profound, and I agree with that. There are other symbolic gestures, such as those that Peter raised. I also think there are serious, substantive directions that the United States needs to take in order to get its groove back, and I don’t expect that really to happen under this administration, although on the matter of Iran the effort to work multilaterally I think has helped a great deal. The problem there was that we let it go a little bit too long before realizing that our friends might be actually able to pitch in. Their success was unclear, as it were. (Chuckles.)
But I think that—you know, I mentioned this expectation in the global body politic that the United States is the provider of global public good. And that means on issues like global climate change, on issues like genocide, on matters of poverty and development, the major global issues of the day—trade is a huge one, too—there is an expectation that if it is the case that we’re not ready as a country to sign on to something like Kyoto to the letter or the ICC to the letter, at least we need to put on the table a substantive alternative that can be worked with, that can be seen as credible—that, yes, of course respond to the limits of our domestic politic, but that by and large sort of show that we’re ready to work multilaterally, unilaterally, I don’t really care, but just to work with others.
And on the stylistic front, which I think matters incredibly—I take a big hit at public diplomacy in this book and when I talk, but I do think public diplomacy and cultural diplomacy are both incredibly important, but they can only be as effective as the substantive policies that undergird them. And there—you know, otherwise we’re just talking propaganda.
But you know, the only—the audience for this future foreign policy that will try to get America on track is not just the foreign publics of other countries; it’s also the American body politic.
And I think the domestic politics right now and public education around sort of making the case about why it’s necessary for the United States to stay engaged in the world and what that means now that Americans are fearful not only the security front, but also because their livelihoods they see to be threatened and at stake. We need leadership that’s about—that’s ready to talk about what it means to be an American citizen dealing with globalization. Globalization’s not something that just the rest of the world has to deal with, and I do think that a lot of the public education has to focus on our country and our population to break through this insularity that we’re experiencing.
LINDSAY: Okay. I want to bring the rest of the room into the conversation now, and let me do just a short housekeeping duty here; that is, please wait for the microphone and speak directly into it. If you could, please stand and say your name and your affiliation, and as always, please limit yourself to one question. I emphasize “question.”
Bill Jolsey (sp).
QUESTIONER: Bill Jolsey (sp). I would like to ask the panel, what do you think of the democracy promotion exercise? Do you think this has fed the charges of hypocrisy in the sense that we are seeing as—while promoting free votes and—well, freedom in certain societies, yet protecting, shoring up dictatorships, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt. Do you think this has been damaging and fed the forces of anti-Americanism, or do you think in small way it’s been helpful?
KATZENSTEIN: Anti-Americanism in Egypt, for example, is fed by a corrupt authoritarian government. It uses the United States in order to shore up legitimacy it doesn’t have. So my personal view is democracy promotion is the way to go because it actually corresponds to our values. The question is, as the president rightly observed several times, is what’s the prudential speed at which you should go in different settings?
So I’m all for democracy promotion, but you cannot expect tomorrow to harvest something that will take a long time to come, and I think that is what prudent diplomacy is about.
SWEIG: Can I comment here? You know, yes, when we do it in a hypocritical way, it hurts us. There’s also another aspect not of the sort of litmus test kind of cherry-picking way that some of the democracy promotion has undertaken, but also just the fact of—that we live in a greater democratic environment where more countries are—their societies are more open, where democracy flourishes more, means that we have to contend with dissent, and that elected governments are more responsive to their own electorates than they are to us.
And that means that’s a byproduct of democracy that might come as a result of something that we promote that we then have to face as a result.
In this hemisphere, democracy promotion—you know, Latin Americans increasingly hear us say “democracy” and they hear “imperialism.” So it can really backfire, unfortunately.
KEOHANE: The most effective democracy promotion in the last 30 years has been learned by the European Union. Very effective. And it has several features. One is that it’s been entirely peaceful; there’s been no attempt to impose democracy by force.
Secondly, it’s been conditional; that is, they simply say you can only join the European Union or get benefits of it if you become democratic. So nobody is forced to, but they have positive incentives to.
And thirdly, it’s been regional. So usually the countries that are on the cusp are countries that have some prospect of becoming democratic. You’re not trying to create democracy from something which is an entirely undemocratic culture, but you have groups that are pro-democratic and it gives a push in their direction. So from Spain and Portugal to Bulgaria and Romania, it’s been a tremendous force for democracy, but has been long term, incremental; none of this high-blown rhetoric, and no attempt to use force to impose it.
QUESTIONER: David Speedie, Carnegie Corporation.
Jim, I’d like to pick up on your—what you introduced on the consequences, and something that hasn’t been mentioned yet is how others will manipulate anti-Americanism abroad. And it was observed by Shibley Telhami over the weekend that Ahmadinejad’s 18-page infamous letter to President Bush was—the Americans were only part of the intended audience. And he then goes on to point out polling that was done—and I know we’re awash in polls, but just to quote one more—that in an online Al-Jazeera poll, 75 percent of Arabic- speaking—30-odd-thousand people—75 percent felt that Iran’s nuclear potential was not a threat to their neighbors. Now, this is from a region that clearly, historically has, and currently should have concerns about Iran’s status in the extend region.
So my question is, in terms of consequences, where do we stand in terms of how others are stepping in to avoid, whether it be an American “soft power,” as the term is sometimes used, or in just manipulating this anti-Americanism? Is it transient? Is it addressed by some of the measures you suggest in how we should reverse the anti- American tide? Or is it another genuine cause for long-term concern?
LINDSAY: Bob, David invoked your co-author, Joe Nye’s name, so I’m going to give you the first crack at responding to it.
KEOHANE: Okay. I was going to give Peter a crack at it.
I think—well, we talk in the book—or our authors do—about a number of situations where anti-Americanism is indeed manipulated. But often it’s—you have to distinguish whether it’s anti-Americanism or whether it’s a certain U.S. policy.
So, for example, in Turkey and Germany—both in the year before the war occurred—politicians found it convenient to become anti- American, so to speak, in their pronouncements, but the leverage was U.S. war policy more than it was general opposition to the United States.
But it is—anti-Americanism has always filtered through the political incentives of politicians. And as Peter said a minute ago, you know, authoritarian politicians often—often the Egyptians, for example, allow and even encourage anti-American propaganda as a way of diverting attention away from their own evils to their states. And democratic politicians, of course, find the same incentive. And we’re simply giving a lot of ammunition, a lot of material for that current policy.
LINDSAY: Did you want to jump in, Peter?
KATZENSTEIN: No, I’m fine, thank you.
Yes, sir. Right in the front.
QUESTIONER: Hi. Chris Heinz, Rosemont Capital. I’m a term member.
This question has to do with functionally the rise in the long view of anti-Americanism. I have two specific events.
Which do you think was more powerful from a hardening of distrust and to bias—was the actual war, the start of the Iraq war in 2003 or the result of the election, the reaffirmation by our public in 2004? In the long view, which, do you think, will have the more damaging effect?
SWEIG: Oh, I think it’s definitely Iraq. I think the—I’m not persuaded by—I know there was a shift in polling after the 2004 election where Americans began to be held responsible for having re- elected George Bush after a contested election in 2000. But I do really think, all things being equal, that it was the diplomacy around the Iraq war and the consequences of it that have been far more polarizing, including the symbolic pieces of the war on terror in Iraq, such as Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.
LINDSAY: All the way over here.
QUESTIONER: Jeff Laurenti at The Century Foundation.
You know, the premise “anti-Americanism” raises a question, well, do we talk about anti-Frenchism or anti-Germanism or anti-Japaneseism to refer to negative feelings towards other countries’ policies; and yet President Bush himself has suggested that it was their hatred of our freedom that impelled the jihadists.
So I wonder if we could explore Americanism as an ideology for a moment. Was it, for instance, an American ideology of inclusiveness, kind of pseudo- or genuine democratic values, that created the U.N. and the Bretton Woods institutions and all that, that represented one kind of America; and have we now, with—and you heard a lot of it in 2002—America as the new Rome, and quoting Cicero, “Let them hate us so long as they fear us”—has this become the new ideology of America? Is an ideological dimension central to this whole discussion, rather than simply one powerful country as opposed to another?
KATZENSTEIN: I think you touch on something quite important, and I think you characterize it correctly. But the ideology itself, of course, is domestically contested. That is, anybody who follows American development says, “I don’t have to be anti-American, because the anti-Americans are all here.” The Americans are not agreed on this ideology.
The other observation which you made is also very interesting. That is, if you ask people in different parts of the world, “Are you anti-American?” often the answer is very high, “Yes.” But if in China you ask, “Well, you’re anti-Japanese and you’re anti-American,” well, suddenly the anti-American declines somewhat and the anti-Japanese because more salient. This is true in Europe. If you ask the Dutch, are you anti-German or anti-American, they say anti-German. (Laughter.)
So the relevance—the devil across the water is always the better devil. And so how the question is framed, which is why public opinion polls are extremely difficult to interpret, is enormously important.
KEOHANE: There’s a paper in our volume by the historian David Kennedy, the Pulitzer Prize winner, a brilliant paper, which looks at the way in which America has been viewed. America has been viewed since 1492 in dichotomous ways by Europeans and the world. One way to view it was as the barbaric age, pre-Christian age, people had to be converted, and negative stereotypes about America which have run through the French thinking, for example, for centuries.
The other way is, this is the new promising—this is the new world, the promising new world, which has all the possibilities for getting away from the hatreds and the anachronisms of the old world. Of course, Americans have taken the latter more, but Europeans have had this back and forth—this dualistic image.
So America has some resonance with the world that even France or Russia or Japan don’t have, and so it’s a natural place to lodge your own anxieties and concerns. And so part of that is this resonance with this protean notion of America, which can be anything that you think.
And we talk about America in our book, at the end, as being polyvalent. America has so many different aspects. It’s religious; it’s secular. It’s based all on commerce and sex or it’s based on idealism. You can take anything you want. So anything you don’t like, you can find, anything you like, you can find in America. And that makes it a rich source of tropes. For anyone who is upset about our policy, you can always find terrible things about America to go along with that; or vice versa, if you like what America is doing, you can find lots of things to admire.
LINDSAY: Yves? Monte (sp) will bring you the mike.
QUESTIONER: Yves Istel, Rothschilds. There was a recent article in the New York Review of Books by William Pfaff talking about the recent events in France, and I bring it up for a specific reason; where basically, of course, he talked about the common view that this was sclerosis in the system. But he said France is the precursor of many new ideas, and this is really the beginning, not the end, of the movement against both globalization and the American economic model. Do you feel that that has some validity? And do you think it’s a part of what’s going on in the anti-Americanism?
KATZENSTEIN: We have a French author in the—(inaudible)—, and the first thing she says, in the line with talks here, you know, “We are ‘anti.’ We’re not anti-American, we’re also anti- French. We’re ‘anti.’” Right? That’s what defines France. (Laughter.) So this is always good to remember about the French.
A former student of mine, Ravi Attola (ph), who is a professor at the Harvard Business School, has just finished a book which looks at this question. And his argument is that globalization, rule-bound globalization, is a French product. France insisted on globalization after 1983, after (the U-turn ?). There was a big debate in France, and then the OECD, the IMF and the EU were all staffed by French left- wing technocrats who said globalization is a good thing; the bad thing is globalization without rules, which was what the Americans wanted.
So the premise of Pfaff’s argument is that the French are anti- globalization; the French are probably anti-French, because the policy which they are objecting to was fashioned. And he has talked to everybody. The data are really superb.
So I’m rather skeptical. If you look at sort of the evolution of political economies in Europe over the last 20 years, France has gone through more changes than Italy, Britain or Germany by a very significant margin, and therefore, there may be something there about globalization, but it is about France. I don’t think it’s about globalization.
KEOHANE: We started this project with three grand narratives. The view was: How do we explain anti-Americanism? It was singular at the time, and one of those was the U.S. is Mr. Big; the U.S. is so big people dislike Mr. Big—Joseph Joffe’s thesis. Another was that it’s all about culture; it’s about people hating people with different cultures called the Huntington thesis. And the third one was globalization, which is—Pfaff’s thesis. And we found that none of them held much water. In fact—partly because the variety of anti-Americanism was such you couldn’t—as Julia said—explain it with any one grand phenomenon.
But also, if you look at globalization, the affect—the parts of the world that are most affected by American-led globalization, such as East Asia, love it. So there’s no general—it would be false to say the general explanation of anti-Americanism is anti- globalization. That’s, I think, clearly not true. It might be part of the story in a given country.
SWEIG: It is part of the story in it’s—and Asia, of course, is exceptional—I found exceptionally and made the kind of investments early on that it needed to make with American support in order to take advantage of globalization. I do think gave that—one of the things that transpired after the end of the Cold War is that globalization came to be synonymous with Americanization, and this was in the 1990s when globalization would be the bridge to the 21 st century for everybody.
And to the extent that it has not been, that in fact it has—there are real challenges associated with globalization—and especially in the developing world, especially here in this hemisphere, again, where it has not delivered for whatever reason, for reasons that are associated with American policy, heavy handedness, or failures of domestic elites on the ground—to the extent that it’s failed, that redounds negatively against the United States.
And it is, I think Pfaff is putting his finger on something that’s transpiring in France, but he’s also putting his finger on something that’s happening in the United States too—that is, I think it is true that unless we as a—as society and other societies can figure out how to harness and deal with globalization and manage it, we are going to see many more protests of this nature, because the perception is—and this gets beyond anti-Americanism and the United States—but the perception is that globalization is something to be feared more than something to be harnessed, I think, increasingly.
LINDSAY: Way in the back.
QUESTIONER: Shayman (sp) from the World Journal. On Chinese, and I would most increasing to know how can we pro—more pro-American when you—or your value.
President Bush met three Christians from China the other day, and talked for over one hour to a missionary—talked that the Christian—the Chinese should have the freedom and democracy and all this. But the Chinese government immediately shut down the two scholars he met who attending the Hong Kong seminary. So the Chinese do not want American missionaries back to China, especially by Bush or any other. So we—(inaudible)—the sovereignty—you said sovereignty against America. But I really do not think that the Chinese against the American on this freedom and democracy.
So how can you do it in the Western European way to promote gradually the Chinese democracy? Because that worries us, that in Taiwan, there’s now anti-Americanism because of your shabby treatment of our president.
LINDSAY: I think we’ll separate—if I can—you know, part of the question there is we’ve talked about the need to sort of reconcile our actions with our values. But if part of the problem in China is about sovereignty and not being told what to do by others, acting consistently could enflame the passions of people who are—don’t want to be dictated to.
So how do you square that circle?
SWEIG: Well, I mean, let me say one thing, and then I’ll turn it over.
I think that the question also raises the issue of, is the objective to recover universal—to be liked universally again? I’m not so sure it is. I mean, I would be happy with ambivalence. I’m not so sure that the objective is for the Chinese government to embrace American values. But I just want to put that out there. That’s not my objective in talking about how (to steer this back ?). But on the China thing—
KEOHANE: I think in the long term, we would—our objective is to make—to help China become more democratic and more a country of the rule of law. But it’s very clear that China is a large, self- confident country which has rebuffed over many, many centuries—and people here in the room know this much better than I do—attempts by the West to change its ways.
So it seems to me one way to do it is to—as Julia was saying earlier—manifest—and Peter was saying about rules—manifest our commitment to global rules that we believe are in the general interest.
Example is World Trade Organization rules, not all of which are general interest, but most of which are, and to insist that we’re not interfering in Chinese internal affairs, but if you’re going to be in the WTO, you have to follow anti-piracy rules and you have to construct a rule of law at home, if you’re going to have capitalism, which is not going to allow those firms to exploit other outside. And that can be done without saying we’re trying to change Chinese politics, we’re trying to interfere in your policy, just saying if you want to be part of this global rule system, which we’re also obeying—the crucial part is we also have to be willing to obey the rules—then you have to obey the rules, and over a period of time you have to become more and more obedient to the rules. I would focus on that, the rule of law aspect, as opposed to trying to insist on dramatic change, and especially local change that can be reversed in particular Chinese policy.
LINDSAY: Okay, Michael.
QUESTIONER: Michael Oppenheimer from NYU. Two of you have said that you don’t yet see any tangible signs of balancing or push-back against American power that you can trace to popular anti-Americanism. Can you think for a moment about future policies that the current degree of anti-Americanism essentially rule out? I mean, can we predict with any confidence what the action will be, both popular as well official, to the preemptive use of force or to forceful regime change? In other words, are there—given the difficulty of tracing specific government policies to anti-Americanism, can one say with any confidence what constraints this degree of anti-Americanism places on U.S. policy going forward?
KATZENSTEIN: Yeah, I think what we have learned—I mean, I think in the academy this was better understood than in the policymaking circles, that legitimacy matters. And as Julia said, it’s not so easy regaining it after you’ve lost it. We have given up a lot of legitimacy.
So predicting particular policy effects I think is hard. Predicting a policy trend which says if we were to go in preventively or unilaterally again, we know what the reaction would be.
So the question about Iran, I think, isn’t burning just in the United States. It’s burning around the world because it would reconfirm—people think—this transient American foreign policy.
So I think that the American—that the conception of power, the social purpose which power needs to serve has to be agreed upon by more than the United States and the Beltway. And that is hard for us to swallow, but that is the unambiguous lesson, I think, over the last five years.
KEOHANE: It’s a great question, and I would add something else related to my own view.
I think—my own view is that in the next 20 years, a genuine leading country of the world would reshape multilateralism. Because the old multilateralism of 1945 isn’t working very well. The U.N. is not working very well. And right now, what’s happened is that the U.S. has taken its unilateralist view, so the defenders of multilateralism are often driven back, as Brian Urquhart was in the same issue of The New York Review, to try to say, “Well, the U.N. is the only recourse.” I mean, if you look hard at the U.N. and the deadlocks in the U.N., it’s not a very adequate organization right now.
So we should be in a situation where we—where the U.S., as a promoter of public goods, was trying to help redesign multilateral institutions for a network, Internet world, which is not simply the post-World War II world, although it was adapted for the Cold War or 1990.
But right now, we can’t do that because we’re so distrusted, and everybody’s going to think we have a covert agenda, which is a negative agenda. We’re trying to tear down multilateralism, even if we claim we’re trying to build it up.
So it’s a very good question. There’s an example of what we can only do if we get out of the cul-de-sac that we’re in now.
SWEIG: Let me just go out on a limb and say that if we’re going to do regime change and some sort of major military action in Iran, we will—the bottom will fall out again. We will set ourselves back very far, especially in the Middle East, but also in Europe and throughout the world.
Remember, Latin America isn’t just angry at the United States over the bilateral agenda. It’s the demonstration of fact of unilateralism elsewhere in the world; that is, everybody sees everything.
So there’s no doubt in my mind, without being able to predict it in a scientific way, that we will deepen the hole that we’ve dug for ourselves further through—
LINDSAY: But what tangibly will be affected? I realize the poll numbers will go way down, but will they stop buying American products, stop visiting the United States? Are we going to see real global balancing, where the Europeans want us out of NATO? I mean, sort of—what would be the tangible consequences?
SWEIG: Well, on the—the interesting outlier on this issue is, no, I don’t think they’re stop buying our stuff. You know, there has—there’s not a good—
LINDSAY: Got to have your Coke and your Marlboros?
SWEIG: No, you know, the Coke and—Marlboro has suffered a little bit, and Marlboro actually says that they equate their loss with the decline in views of the United States.
But I think the stuff is less the issue than it is that whatever—should the United States seek to go out there and reshape multilateral institutions, it’s just not going to have the political capital to get that done, the diplomatic capital to get that done. And we will reinforce the kind of stasis that we have faced on all of these other issues in the last few years.
By the same token, leaving Iraq isn’t going to get us sort of a big global boost, but it will liberate us—however we leave, and it will be a mess, I’m sure, but however we leave and over what time, it will give us some resources and some diplomatic political space globally to put our cards in other—put our eggs in other baskets.
LINDSAY: Okay, Peter, I’m going to give you the last word.
KATZENSTEIN: Well, the issue is the opportunity, of course, for exercising power. That is, you know, if you don’t see the costs, there are still opportunity costs, and to work together with others makes the exercise of power more effective and efficient. And that’s, I think, what the question on the table is.
And other governments are as much to be blamed for this as the Americans. I mean, the Japanese and German government lost a huge opening when they pushed for a U.N. Security Council seat rather than creating a league for democratic institutions or something, which they would have led. So the narrow-mindedness of the conception of interests isn’t just to be found in Washington, it is also found in other national capitals.
LINDSAY: Thank you for that, Peter.
I know there are a lot of questions left on the table we didn’t get a chance to go to. I apologize for that. But that is a sign of how interesting and stimulating my three panelists were. So please join me in thanking them. (Applause.)
SWEIG: Thank you, Peter.
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