By Robert Hodam, CEO International Center for Economic Growth
"Damn Americans--I hate those bastards"--a quote from an al-Qaeda terrorist? Kim Jung-iL? Or maybe Hollywood? No, we can thank Canadian Member of Parliament, Carolyn Parrish for this useful contribution to international discourse.
Why do Carolyn, Canada, and Europe hate us? Not all of them do of course, but the ill will is pervasive, and their list of outrages is long.
The reason most cited by Americans is European resentment of our material success. But, to publicly say, "They resent us for our success" is both arrogant and dismissive. Citing envy as a reason is a bit like saying, I'm the prom queen--and youre not.
Americans have always been a bit indifferent to Canada and Europe, Our perception is that not much happens in either place that significantly impacts all our collective daily lives, so our indifference is not surprising. However, this U.S. administration has raised indifference to a new level--flagrant dismissal.
U.S. officials, and the U.S. media, simply cannot run around saying other countries are "irrelevant" without consequence. It doesnt matter that the American public may agree with that sentiment (albeit misguided), but you cant tell a woman shes homely and not expect to get slapped. Especially a French woman.
And, if labeling them irrelevant was not enough, we proved the point by recently ignoring a host of international treaties. We cannot simply dismiss treaties that other countries see are in their national interests, without expecting the same dismissive attitude toward American calls for support of UN resolutions that we see as in our national interest.
For example, we look like idiots, or worse butchers, for opposing a worldwide ban on landmines. Our stated position is that we need landmines to keep the North Koreans in North Korea. OK, sounds reasonable. But, the ban proponents say you are either against landmines, or you are for them (sound familiar)? This is obviously a false choice, but how have we responded?
The U.S. media nightly hypes our high tech weapons to a terrified global audience, which makes the argument that we need land mines, that we cannot develop a high tech alternative to land mines, seem either ludicrous or insensitive in the extreme. Of course, we are not bloodthirsty butchers, we do not really "love the smell of napalm in the morning" as popularized in the movies we export. Why on earth would anyone think we are bloodthirsty butchers?
Another example, the U.S. did not even show up to sign the Kyoto Accords on global warming--an extremely political issue in Europe (and Carolyns Canada)--and we were the only hold out. How arrogant is that?
If we do not think the Accord is the way to go, if we think the whole premise that human activity causes global warming is false--as I, and some European Greenpeace members do--then show some leadership. Debate the facts, challenge the science, or offer a better solution. Otherwise, we look like the arrogant greedy bastards Carolyn loves to hate. The totally dismissive manner in which we ignored the Accord was a catalyst for anti-American fury.
"Global warming" has filled the void vacated by socialism as a political force in Europe. Europeans elect "Greens" to parliaments in droves. These are not your fathers Sierra Club variety of environmentalists. They are not interested in the facts, even when presented by one of their own.
Bjorn Lomborg, a Dutch statistics professor, life-long European Greenpeace leader, and author of the "Skeptical Environmentalist"--concluded an exhaustive review of all the published research on global warming with the conclusion that increases in global atmospheric warming are within historical ranges, correlate very closely to rises and fall in solar flare activity, but do not correlate with human activity.
Signing any treaty that regulates human activity, in the name of halting global warming due to non-human activity, does not make sense. However, we are not dealing with objective people. "Greenism" is a bit like fundamentalist religions. It is an article of faith that humans are causing a catastrophic global doomsday. Further, say the Greens, the designated sinners are the gluttonous Americans--racing to their doom like lemmings in SUVs, taking everyone else with them.
"The future of the planet depends on stopping the Americans desperate grab for oil to support their energy-junky habits". Self-righteous Greens are on a mission from God.
After adding, "its all about oil" to the smoldering debris of European and Canadian attitude, all they needed was a spark. And we supplied it " you are either with us or against us " Bingo. Nothing incites fury in the false argument crowd than a dose of their own medicine.
Virtually every email from my colleagues in Europe has pointed to this perceived "threat" as the tipping point that ignited the Greens, the resentful, the dismissed, the fearful and their media into a coalition of the unwilling, committed to literally saving the human race (not to mention the French language and Ministry of Culture), from "bloodthirsty", "greedy", "gluttonous", "arrogant"--and "dangerous"--America. A recent TV documentary seen in the Balkans suggested the U.S. will "nuke" any who oppose her.
For all the above reasons many Europeans feel they are saving the world from a powerful arrogant nation that loves land mines, hates the environment, and threatens to "nuke" anyone who looks cross-eyed.
To many Europeans, and apparently to Carolyn, Americans have no moral standing-- we are at best only trying to save our own greedy hides--by killing "millions", while they are saving the human race through peace.
Make no mistake; this is not all Americans fault for recently mangling foreign relations. The French anti-American propaganda machine made the jump to hyperspace right after the fall of their beloved Soviet Union, which coincided with a McDonalds on the Champs d Elysee--a double whammy for socialist French culture. Their self-esteem could not have gone lower, nor their indignation higher. That is, until we told them they are "irrelevant".
When the Berlin wall came down, the French sensed an opportunity for glory. They imagined a united Franco-Europe devoted to the French culture and language; an 18th century French garden where they could revel in imagined past glories, boss around their "children"--eastern European and Canadians like Carolyn Parrish. However, to achieve that dream, France knows it must vanquish the U.S.
Carolyn supports a socialist, one-world-government, French leader conspiring to diminish American influence in the world and advance his vision of a glorious Monde Français. Americans have a post-9/11 administration, seeking to increase American influence in the world to fight terrorism and preserve liberty--even for Carolyn.
The International Center for Economic Growth is A global network of more than 300 economic policy institues promoting sustainable economic growth and opportunity in 104 emerging market countries.