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For the longest time United States involvement in foreign affairs was small and few. In our humble beginnings as a nation-in-the-works, our foreign policy consisted of war with Britain and an alliance with France. We seldom dealt with anyone other than of the French and British. As time went on we involved ourselves with other countries such as Latin America, Spain, Germany, and the list goes on. Our nation at this time is currently a superpower, in fact, the most powerful superpower in the world. We are wealthy, we have incredible access to modern technology, and we have an ample military defending what we stand for. However, the question is, “Why Are Americans Disliked Around the World?”. It is interesting to wonder why a nation as important as ours has so many other countries that want us to fall off our high horse and never get back up. The thought is actually very scary.
The United States began as a set of thirteen different colonies, all of which shared one major belief, freedom. In the 1700s when the colonists had these hopes of a free country, the British were the superpower and the goal of the colonists was to break from the British and of course, gain independence. The colonists succeeded in defeating Great Britain and the road to American Superpower was about to begin. For a while after the conflict of the Revolution, the British were our enemies but within the next one hundred years, the British would grow to be one of our most valuable allies. How could Anti-American sentiment begin in the first place? Could it be that with our colonization of other countries and our rushing to the aid of every global conflict are we viewed as a power-hungry giant? George Washington might have been right after all in his farewell address that we should stay out of other countries affairs and be isolated. Being isolationist would probably shake the negative opinions of other continental areas.
In 1917, our break from isolationism began in response to Germany’s practice of unrestricted submarine warfare which killed a number of Americans; this caused our entrance into World War I. After the war, we went back to being an isolationist country for about 20 years. On December 7th, 1941, we were thrown back into overseas involvement when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. We now were entering World War II.
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It started years ago when we were only colonists looking to settle in a free country but in the process of building a nation we tore down another group of peoples’ freedom, the Native Americans. For the longest time, our ancestors invaded tribal lands to build permanent settlements of their own while at the same time exiling Indian tribes from their homes forcing them to live elsewhere. The Africans felt a similar backlash. Our nation also used slavery to work farms and plantations, mainly in the southern United States. These people had their freedom taken away in almost a similar way to the Indians but the African-Americans mostly lost their personal liberties. This brings up the point that maybe the reason we are so disliked around the world is because of the wrong doing that we’ve done in our past. Our government may make us out to be the do-gooders out to stop evil but what are we doing to help other nations anyway?
Our government keeps important information from the American people as well. Many of our young children attending schools today have been taught that we are indeed the country that can do no wrong. According to James W. Loewen (1995), “Since at least the 1920s, textbook authors have claimed that the United States is more generous than any other nation in the world in providing foreign aid. The myth was untrue then; it is likewise untrue now” (Loewen J., 1995). Loewen (1995) also mentioned that when it comes to foreign aid to other countries, the United States is far behind Europe and Arab countries in giving gross domestic product expenses to foreign aid. This finding dispels the claim that our country is the superhero that helps the poor countries in need. The truth is, there are other countries out there that are a bigger financial help than we. It’s no wonder other countries have grown to resent us, the reason we stay so wealthy is because of how tight we are when it comes to foreign aid, but then again we have an ample sum of money going to the U.S. military.
The events of September 11, 2001 shook the United States out of a relaxed period and into a time of desperate measures. Since 9/11 American Society has changed drastically. Security in many public places has been placed in a tight grip, a sense of American patriotism increased in many Americans, and suspicion of our fellow citizens of a foreign background. The most important result of 9/11 was Bush’s “War On Terrorism” with Bush baptizing Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as the “Axis of Evil”. At this time, American troops are in Iraq looking for dictator Saddam Hussein. Elsewhere in Afghanistan troops have been doing the same thing, working with the Northern Alliance, the group fighting Osama bin Ladin and his followers as well as searching for the man who is more than likely responsible for the tragedy of 9/11.
Bin Ladin has been a topic of American discussion since 1997, in which during an interview on CNN, bin Ladn claimed that a group of his followers were responsible for the killing of American soldiers in the conflict in Somalia back in the early 90s (Bearden, 2001). According to Milton Bearden’s findings, Osama bin Ladin for a long time has felt intense hostility toward the United States, “Most of his consciousness was consumed by a brooding hatred of the United States. This passion grew during the Gulf War, and five years later, with U.S. troops still stationed in Saudi Arabia, bin Ladin’s rage found its final form. It would be the United States against which he would concentrate all of his energies” (Bearden, 2001).
The year that bin Ladin’s aggression towards America finally occurred was in 1998. Bearden (2001), stated that in late 1998, terrorists that were thought to have been connected to Al Qaeda attacked American embassies while in the process killing 12 Americans. The U.S. retaliated by firing at a few of bin Ladin’s bases of operation. Bin Ladin escaped and is still out there. It makes us wonder though, why was he so set on watching our country fall? It is a very scary thought to know that there are other countries out there that could possibly be planning to take us down, or at least try to. It is obvious from bin Ladin’s history that he is a man bent on seeing our country fall and he didn’t handle his feelings toward our country in the right way. Violent offensives are only ways of wasting human lives and that’s exactly what bin Ladin did, if he is out to cause harm then he does certainly need to be brought to justice, the same goes with Hussein. The point is, there are countries out there that share this same view and it shows a need to go back to what factors of the United States way could have lead anyone to want to cause destruction and conflict.
Our country’s quest to put out the terrorist fire has lead many people to ask what exactly we are going to war for. It has come to the point where even our allies in the United Nations, such as France, are getting tired of our unilateralist way of handling the current situations. After WWII, we managed to keep multilateralism alive and well where countries would negotiate before ever thinking of war. This view was beneficial because it gave every country a chance to benefit. Norman A. Graebner (2001) agrees that the United States “at least in its early years, it compromised the greatest diplomatic triumph in U.S. history” (Graebner, 2001). Things did however change once the Cold War ended.
Graebner (2001) also mentions that the fall of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, early 1990s, the United States “ inherited a degree of unipolarity not seen since the high point of the Roman Empire”. Since this event the United States for more than 10 years has stayed unilateral in dealing with foreign policy. This whole power-hungry attitude that the United States has carried around is good in the sense that we are the top superpower with no worthy rivals at this point. On the other hand, is it really a good idea that we possess so much dominance and so little collaboration with other countries? The answer is no. Our country may have incredible military and technological advancements, we may have an incredible population, although dwarfed by that of India and China. We may also have a pretty well-off economy as well, but the truth is, if we are going to take part in the global economy then we must make sure that we work with other countries and be multilateralist. This is where all of the hate of our country stems from.
The United States of America is seen as a power-hungry giant, sticking its nose into the business of others just because it is the lone superpower. America has acted as a selfish miser in the global community. Graebner’s (2001) article explains that “ to exploit its predominance, the United States withdrew from collective initiatives, exempted itself from international rules, shirked commitment to international organizations, and extended its domestic law extraterritorially”. The countries that dislike us so much may have good reason to feel that way. Our nation has gone against the whole meaning of multilateralism by bombing countries such as Serbia without the consent of the United Nations, and although we damn countries such as Iraq and North Korea for having weapons of mass destruction, we still possess the same kinds of weapons, making us no better than they are.
In conclusion, the United States is the lone superpower in this point and time. We have a great deal of money, military, and technology but such wealth is making us into exactly what we fought against in the beginning, a tyrant imposing on the freedoms of others. If our country is going to keep any power then we need to work with our fellow countries. They hate us because we have given them a reason; we have given them reason to distrust us by not working with them on key global issues. There will still be countries that hate the United States of America. Their resentment could stem from jealousy and spitefulness of what we have compared to what they may lack and feelings such as those are normal for anyone in any situation to have. In order for this world to function properly and safely, greed, personal dominance, and pragmatism shouldn’t play a part in world affairs. Our nation began on the idea of freedom and what is right and by acting unilaterally we may be infringing another country’s freedom.