NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Foreign Elites Hate America

January 2, 2003

Much of the debate over anti-Americanism abroad boils down to a single question: Who's responsible for it -- them or us? The Pew Global Attitudes Project's recent survey found that America's rating has slipped, but "a reserve of goodwill toward the country still remains."

The study's major finding: Elites in much of the world hate the USA. Even the so-called outpouring of sympathy for America following 9/11 never really materialized among most foreign elites.

This hostility has a tremendously negative effect on the struggle against international terrorism.

  • It creates an adversarial climate in which terrorists can find support among ordinary people; foreign intelligence agencies are less willing to share information with their U.S. counterparts, and U.S. military operations are impeded.
  • It also generates political capital for the opposition in countries where the leader cooperates with America.

The disparity between mass and elite views sheds light on the cause of anti-Americanism.

  • When the masses abroad think of the United States, they may consider its military's brute force or the improprieties of its leaders -- but they also see Hollywood, high technology and a chance for a better life.
  • However, foreigners gave the United States high scores for culture, science and technology in the Pew survey.

More importantly, immigration to America is the dream of the masses -- but not the elites. Foreign elites already have their place in society. They see only America's power, authority and confidence -- for the simple reason that America's power exceeds their own.

Source: Vladimir Shlapentokh and Joshua Woods, "Views of World Elite at Core of U.S. Problems Abroad," USA Today, December 30, 2002.

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