The Human Truth Foundation

Why People Hate the USA
A Summary of Anti-Americanism

By Vexen Crabtree 2001

#politics #USA

This was inspired by American friends' confusion over whether they are hated or not, and why. Although it includes some of my own views most of the reasons people give here are common to average people, plus some opinions of reporters and other bodies. This has been written during the fallout of the terrorist attacks on the USA on 2001 Sep 11, during which both towers of the World Trade Center collapsed, killing over 20001 people, the Pentagon was attacked leaving over 100 dead, and other bombs and hijackings (some of which failed) occurred.

I fear that this list may be seen as a list of why people should dislike the USA. This is not the case. These are the reasons that people say accounts for their hatred of the USA, and they are not always logical or well-founded. This page is educational in that it is a description of criticism. My personal stance is one of vague indifference. I don't hate America.

Book Cover2003 Aug 28: I have started to add some quotes from "Why Do People Hate America?" by Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies (2002)2. This book, wrote nine months after I wrote my initial page by the same name, is a worthwhile read. It covers many of the same subjects as I do except some of my sources are not as respectable. However much of the book is centered around analysing the self-perception of Americans, especially of those under the influence of USA-style war films. The book, therefore, contains a wealth of information on such war films and highlights the inherent pro-USA slant that all such films take, and their bludgeoning of known history. But, in my opinion, the book concentrates on this far too much! I do believe that my simple page contains much more varied and balanced material.

1. USA Folk Do Not Know the Reasons

#democracy #UK #USA

In the wake of the 2001 atrocity committed against the USA, it was very apparent that many folk did not understand the world's opinion towards the US. Many simply didn't know that they have long ago surpassed the UK and other colonial powers as the most detested country.

Shock, rage and grief there has been aplenty. But any glimmer of recognition of why people might have been driven to carry out such atrocities, sacrificing their own lives in the process - or why the United States is hated with such bitterness, not only in Arab and Muslim countries, but across the developing world - seems almost entirely absent.

Seumas Milne (2001)3

President Bush said that the terrorists hate democracy and freedom (26% of the population of the USA agreed), and therefore attacked the USA. But this is plainly untrue: the attacks were a result of anti-American hatred that stems from many sources, but especially as a result of USA foreign policy. The 26% of Americans who agreed with Bush answered in the top category surely do not have a grip on reality!

In the aftershock of 2001, it has come to the attention of the Americans themselves that anti-American hatred is rife throughout the world. When they were polled in 2001, these were the reasons they thought were the cause:

  1. Our democracy and freedom (26%).
  2. Our support for Israel (22%).
  3. Our values and way of life (20%).
  4. Our influence on the economy and lives of Middle Eastern countries (17%).
  5. Our economic and military power (11%).

Harris Interactive poll (2001)4

Points 1 and 3 together make about half the population who apparently suffer from severe solipsistic confusion about the world. The media critic Nick Davies blames much of this ignorance on the media, whose selective reporting leads to an imbalanced view of the world:

Book CoverAmerican media consumers may stand back aghast in January 2006 when Bolivia elects a new president, Evo Morales, who immediately declares his antipathy to their nation. They don't know what he's talking about: the news factory has left them in ignorance. It simply has not told them, for example, the story of the Bolivian trade union leader, Casimiro Huanca, who was shot dead in December 2001 by troops which had been trained and supported by the American government to crack down on cocaine production. This incident generated considerable hostility towards the US Embassy there, and no coverage at all in the international mass media. Too far away, too expensive, too boring, too un-American. [...]

It was exactly this same blind focus in the news factory which left the American people after the attacks of September 2001 asking in genuine ignorance: 'Why do they hate us?' In the same way, it has left them for decades in overwhelming ignorance of the behaviour of US security and intelligence agencies which has created such hostility to their country.

"Flat Earth News" by Nick Davies (2008)5

I believe every American should be forced to commiserate with people from other countries while they are growing up. Only when I talked to people from outside my borders did I realize how insanely myopic the entire establishment of the US is. People here really can't seem to understand why the world gets mad at us. It is not evil that's the problem here I think, just incredible, earth-shattering, incalculable, painfully entrenched ignorance.

"spf2119" (2001)6

Dave Winer posted something yesterday which gives me hope: "People don't sacrifice themselves for no reason. Let's find out what it is. And if we did something wrong (no doubt we did) let's apologize, ask for forgiveness, and then ask how we can do better".

Jeff Kandt (2001)7

2. Invalid Criticisms of the USA


There is much unjustified hatred of the USA. Much of it arises from the victimisation complex that sweeps much of mankind. Whoever is in charge, whoever is powerful or successful, will also be the object of blame for problems everywhere. Many otherwise level-headed people will subconsciously feel this effect.

As a symbol of Western power and aggression, the USA is frequently made a scapegoat for the evils of commercialism in the rest of the world. In many countries religious, ideological and political circumstances lead to a government or mass media using the USA as a scapegoat, as part of excuses and propaganda to justify their own failures. The spin that is put on it is false: USA folk are not out to "oppress" the rest of the world. A mutual misunderstanding occurs: The USA feels victimized as a result of seemingly irrational hatred, and the populace of other countries feel oppressed via American commercial interests. Neither side is irrational, merely looking at it from a victimized point of view.

3. Why Do People Hate America?


Ex-colonial countries like the United Kingdom, France, etc, have all committed atrocities. They all have people and nations who still reserve some hatred for them due to past events - and rightly so. But let's get down to the intellectual hatred, derived from USA politics, its foreign policy, its actions around the world, and its many social issues such its health system, homelessness and the accessibility of fire arms (seen by many as a route through which many illegal weapons move across the world).

  1. A History of War
    1. Nagasaki and Hiroshima
    2. Biological Weapons
    3. The Land Mine Treaty
    4. The Arms Trade
    5. World War 2 and Deluded Self-Glorification
  2. From USA Foreign Policy to Home Culture
    1. Supporting Obnoxious Regimes
    2. Patriotism & Self Righteousness
    3. Oil, Bush, Kyoto
    4. Obesity
  3. Criticism from the West
    1. European Distaste of the USA
    2. UN Criticism of United States' Children's Rights
    3. Rape and Violent Crime - the Highest in the Modern World
    4. Tied Aid
    5. Abuse of the UN and International Law
  4. Criticism from the Middle East
    1. A Region Where the USA Can Do No Right
    2. Osama bin Laden: Some of His 'Justifications' from 1998
    3. Israel

3.1. A History of War

#democracy #USA

Every military conflict and strike causes innocent people to resent the attackers, even when the attacks appear necessary from our point of view, of course it does feel like that to your average person on the street. I could therefore list every conflict that America has been involved in, supplied weapons to one side, both, or more, made a profit from or secured oil from. But such a list would basically involve listing nearly every conflict across the world. So I do not iterate through such a list here, I instead mention a few conflicts that tie in with the rest of the essay. I may do a separate essay for this list, later.

Unconstrained by any superpower rival or system of global governance, the US giant has rewritten the global financial and trading system in its own interest; ripped up a string of treaties it finds inconvenient; sent troops to every corner of the globe; bombed Afghanistan, Sudan, Yugoslavia and Iraq without troubling the United Nations; maintained a string of murderous embargos against recalcitrant regimes; and recklessly thrown its weight behind Israel's 34-year illegal military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza as the Palestinian intifada rages.

The Guardian (2001)3

America, as a self-identified military big brother, has been harassing much of the developing world for multiple decades. Strongly anti-communist sentiments have seen a departure from democracy in USA foreign politics and an embrace of political fascism... if you are not democratic, or trying to be so, historically the chances are the American government has been funding attempts to take your government out!

Three years ago, in response to embassy bombings, America attacked a pharmaceutical factory in one of the poorest countries in the world. The Clinton administration said that the Sudanese factory was linked to Osama bin Laden and involved in the production of chemical weapons.

In the following months, that justification fell apart. Although it was not widely reported, it appears that our leaders reacted too hastily, with tragic results. While there were few injuries from the bombing itself, the people of Sudan have suffered enormously as a result of losing this crucial source of medicine.

Please, let's not let that happen again.

Jeff Kandt (2001)7

Every army blunders. The more powerful a country, the more these cause hatred of it in the world and the easier they are forgotten by the more affluent! The more a country engages in war, the more long-term resentment is going to be created.


3.1.1. Nagasaki and Hiroshima

#islam #japan

The hundreds of thousands that died have created in Japan little hatred. What emerges from Japan is the voice for peace, forgiveness and memory.

Something surprised me. Recently I heard Muslims calling for America to pay the price for the massively indiscriminate killing of hundreds and thousands of people. So therefore, Nagasaki and Hiroshima make their surprising entry on to this page.

Biological Weapons


Also, the Bush administration have waived an agreement to allow Biological Weapons inspections of all countries, and not just certain Developing nations. No-one expected this refusal, and everyone was deeply shocked by the revelation that America itself is interested, or has, these kinds of weapons. That's the message that comes across.

America shows a disrespect for Global consensus on all fronts, frequently ignoring the UN and international agreements.

George Bush's administration yesterday blasted another lethal hole in the vital structure of multilateral arms agreements that has so far protected most of the world from the worst dangers of the modern military age. America's lone, wanton wrecking of long-running negotiations to enforce the 1972 treaty banning biological or germ weapons is an insult to the pact's 142 other signatories, a body-blow for the treaty itself and a major setback for international efforts to agree practical curbs on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

By this action, the USA suggests that its national security interests, narrowly defined, and the commercial interests of its dominant biotechnology sector should take precedence over responsible global collaboration to meet a common threat. By rejecting the proposed inspection regime, it further, dangerously, suggests to others that the USA is not really worried about germ-warfare controls and wants to develop its own, advanced biological weapons.

This in turn could have a serious impact on continuing efforts to bolster the equally important chemical weapons convention. Since Tony Blair's government has been particularly active in promoting the BWC enforcement protocol, it may now be expected to be particularly active in condemning this latest piece of Bush vandalism. Jack Straw should summon the US ambassador, a Bush appointee, to the Foreign Office and demand an explanation.

The US move confirms a pattern of reckless, unilateralist behaviour on arms control, as on environmental and other issues. Since taking office, Mr Bush has spoken in grandiose terms of the need for "new thinking" and for a "new strategic framework". But to date, this supposed post-cold war global security "vision" has largely amounted to trashing existing agreements without any clear idea of what to put in their place.

The Guardian (2001)8

AMERICA was heading for a new confrontation with its allies yesterday after it emerged that the Bush Administration will refuse to accept an arms control deal to enforce a ban on biological weapons.

Following the controversy caused by Washington's rejection of the Kyoto protocol and its decision to challenge the ABM treaty on missile defence, the move is likely to lead to a new diplomatic row with its allies in Europe and Asia.

At issue is a draft agreement being negotiated in Geneva to enforce the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention which bans the development, production and stockpiling of germ warfare agents. The treaty has been ratified by more than 140 countries, including the United States, but until now there has been no mechanism to enforce it.

After six years of negotiations, representatives from around the world are due to meet in Geneva today to finalise an agreement that would allow inspectors to visit sites which could be used in making biological weapons.

...Washington has now made it clear that it is unacceptable in its present form and, despite the likely international backlash, America will reject the deal.

"We have problems with the protocol," a White House spokesman said at the weekend. "We think that more work needs to be done."

Developing germ agents in a laboratory is relatively easy to do and notoriously hard to detect, as inspectors discovered in Iraq[...].

Donald Mahley, the American representative to the talks, is expected to say today that the protocol is too weak to catch countries trying to conceal their germ warfare programmes, but strong enough to hurt American industry.

[...] Whatever the reasons, the move is likely to be regarded abroad as further evidence that America is entering a new isolationist era, where its own domestic concerns are placed above its global responsibilities. Supporters of the protocol insist that while it is not perfect, it is better than nothing.

The Times (2001)9

I believe that there are arguments defending America's refusal to co-operate with this seemingly benevolent motion. But, frequently, the shock that America did not sign such an important treaty is enough to cause fear and resentment that can override people's willingness to find out why America does not support the anti-biological weapon ban.

3.1.3. The Land Mine Treaty

#china #russia #USA

THERE WAS AN EMPTY chair at the Geneva meeting this past week on implementation of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. The 138 signers of the Treaty were reviewing progress made in removing mines, treating victims, and destroying stockpiles [...]

The empty chair was a symbolic invitation to governments that have not yet signed the treaty. Among these are Iraq, North Korea, Libya, China, and Russia. Sad to say, that empty chair in Geneva also beckons the United States.

The refusal of America to sign the Mine Ban Treaty represents a particularly embarrassing contradiction, since President Clinton, during a 1994 speech to the UN General Assembly, became the first leader of a major power to demand elimination of all antipersonnel land mines. In 1996, Clinton pledged in public that the United States would spearhead an international campaign to rid the world of antipersonnel land mines.

The Boston Globe (2000)10

I believe that, due to a situation in Korea (which is now obsolete), the USA found itself requiring the use of landmines, and there are some good arguments for their use in that particular scenario, as a purely defensive weapon. But over time, all landmines become serious pests. It seems that the general feeling is that support of landmines is not in the long-term interests of any country, after the wars, landmines always remain a dangerous and stubborn evil.

Some other countries also shunned this move:

The repeated U.S. proposal for "exemption on the Korean Peninsula" - a move to justify its estimated two million US-made land mines sowed along the DMZ dividing the peninsula into north and south Korea - was flatly turned down by the 89 nations, including all of America's NATO allies.

In the wake of U.S. refusal, which maintains its illegal Armed Forces on the peninsula in violation of Washington-Moscow trusteeship, (agreed upon in 1945 after Korea's liberation) north Korea also refused to sign the treaty, followed by China, Russia and India.

A Japanese Website (2001)11

3.1.4. The Arms Trade

#france #germany #israel #russia #UK #USA

There have been no wars between major powers since 1945, but there has been an estimated 138 wars resulting in 23 million deaths.

Book CoverThe Korean War, which caused 3 million deaths and the Vietnam War, which killed 2 million people, were the most deadly conflicts. All 138 wars were fought in the Third World, and many were fuelled by weapons provided by the two major powers or their allies [...]

The surfeit of weapons, especially small arms, left over from this era is a key enabling factor in many conflicts now scarring the world [...] Yet the arms trade continues. [...] The five permanent members of the security council provide 86% of the arms exported to developing countries. In 1992, the United States alone accounted for 46 percent.

"Our Global Neighbourhood: The Report of the Commission on Global Governance" by United Nations (1995)12

The biggest five arms exporters are the USA, Russia, UK, France, and Germany. The USA's biggest customer is Israel, but, all powers are guilty of selling obscene quantities of arms to unstable countries. Despite the widespread condemnation, sometimes it appears it is good to sell weapons to (for example) a government that needs to keep its army operable in order to secure peace within its own borders. But this isn't where lots of the weapons that we sell go. The USA in particular tends to arm opposition parties and rebels in countries where it disagrees with the government, and has as such armed and directly trained groups such as the Taliban in Afghanistan, not always caring that many supported groups have atrocious human rights records.

3.1.5. World War 2 and Deluded Self-Glorification

#china #france #germany #hungary #italy #japan #poland #romania #russia #UK #USA

I would rarely consider this a point of hatred, but it is enough to cause many Europeans to verbally attack USA over its own opinion on its activities during World War 2. People curse, shout and argue at great lengths with seemingly unmovable Americans, and complain bitterly that America's late arrival in the war is not something they should boast about.

It continues, for example, in the film Saving Private Ryan (based on a true story of a British expedition to rescue British prisoners), where an all-American ground force takes on Germany; whereas America sent very few soldiers into war. America only began to send men into the war against Japan after Pearl Harbour, and the numbers and aid that America put into the world are pale in comparison to the massive war efforts conducted by Russia (who crushed Germany with 20 millions of ground troops), France (for its bitter, endless and determined self defence) and the UK. The UK's air force and special forces were consistently very brave and effective (even though some of ground invasions of German held territory were ludicrously ill fated).

America did supply vast amounts of material goods, but it did not throw itself, or its soldiers, into combat wholeheartedly. America's most consistent aid was against the Japanese, and not until Japan attacked America directly, and even then America eventually resorted to the massively indiscriminate nuclear bombs rather than "waste" men on resolute Japan.

The USA appears to be very self-glorifying, and there are multiple generations in the UK, France and Europe who upset and angry at America's rewriting of history. Russia's men, France's entire population, and UK's air force, were the principal opponents of Germany, aided by American equipment (which for example was loaned and leased to the USSR, not merely given), for which the allies were grateful, but not tricked that the USA did not have its own interests at heart, like all countries in the ideologically-charged political atmosphere of the time. USAs entry to the war was forced, not chosen, their motives were self-defence not world-wide good such as was the case with UK, and their effort was slow and half-hearted, public opinion only turned in favour of the war at a very late date.

In his war memoirs Churchill boasted that only in July 1944 did the British Empire yield to the United States in the number of divisions engaging the enemy. [...]The British and the American effort was dwarfed by the Soviets, who were then engaging about 70 per cent of all German divisions, something Churchill neglected entirely to mention.

Alex Danchev (1994)
in the "The Oxford History of the British Army" by Becket and Chandler (1994)13

There is an element of misunderstanding here, as Europeans consider World War 2 to be principally France, Europe, UK (with late USA aid), Russia versus Germany, mostly forgetting about Japan. Whereas many Americans will rightly remember Pearl Harbour and the Japanese more prominently, and probably give the combat in the Indonesian islands and the Pacific more importance than Europeans do.

Russia20 000 000
China10 000 000 to 15 000 000
Germany & Japan6 500 000inc. 1 000 000 German civilians
Bengal1 500 000(mostly indirect in 1943)
Yugoslavia1 300 000
UK + colonials620 000
Italy500 000
France500 000
Hungary350 000approx.
Poland350 000approx.
Romania350 000approx.
USA300 000
The Soviet economy had suffered enormous devastation. [...] The death of an estimated 20 million [Soviets] is an index of the enormous costs of the war to the Soviets. Although the United States had suffered some 300,000 casualties, the ratio of Soviet to American war deaths was about seventy to one.

"American Foreign Policy" by Kegley & Wittkopf (1987)14

The Final Truth is that without any of the allies, the war would have been lost. without material aid from the USA, Russia and the UK would have taken many more years to finally defeat Germany - if at all. USA bombers and UK fighters (Battle of Britain) were the only serious returns we made on Germany other than Russian ground forces. The much repeated phrase that "USA saved Europe" is very much untrue, and completely dismissive of the intense war that actually occurred far from the USA and for years without USA involvement. Russia saved Europe, so did the UK, so did France and the other allies... for any country to claim that it is more of a benefactor than the others is untrue and shows an emotionally disturbing lack of empathy. I would reckon that historically only the poor, suppressed Russian civilians and soldiers could claim to have saved anyone.15

3.2. From USA Foreign Policy to Home Culture

#chile #USA

For those who think that this problem [of hatred of America] is unique to the Arab world [...] recall that twenty-five years ago the most virulent anti-American protests took place in countries such as Chile, Mexico, and South Korea. The reasons were the same: people disliked the regimes that ruled them and they saw the United States as the benefactor of those regimes. [...] Across the world, it is 'usual' to see protests and anti-US sentiment as a result of perceived Americanization of local culture.

"The Future of Freedom" by Fareed Zakaria (2003)16

3.2.1. Supporting Obnoxious Regimes

#politics #usa #vietnam

In 2002 the USA returned to Afghanistan to kill and destroy the Taliban under the lead of Mullah Mohammed Omar, and the Al-Qaeda under the lead of Osama Bin Laden (who the USA called a 'freedom fighter' in the 1980s, but a "terrorist" now, however his actions haven't changed, only their target). In 2003 the USA also returned to Iraq to destroy Saddam Hussein. Returning to Cuba, the USA has fought Fidel Castro and in Vietnam it fought 'Ho Chi Minh and his successors'. The single most outstanding thing that all of these enemies have in common is that they were created by American interventionism in the first place. The result of all these USA-born monsters has been heavy oppression of the people and widespread resentment of the USA. During the Bosnian war (1992-95) multiple Islamic militants were similarly supported, trained and armed. The Nicaragua terrorists, amongst other varied and colourful enemies of humanity for various reasons; and still, the thing they all have in common is that inhumanity reigned and monsters were created.

It is now looking like other monsters that the USA forced into existence will have to be faced, including the Iranian government that was setup in rebellion to the USA's manipulation of the Shah.

Winston Churchill said, "However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results..." and this virtual truism should perhaps should inform the greatest question the world should ask: What IS the United States after that justifies such terrible results?

The USA may have learned some lessons (finally?), as in the 2003 Iraq invasion, it specifically did not grant masses of military equipment or funds to the allied Northern Kurdish forces - the USA seems to be learning that the more weapons you put out there and more factions you turn into monsters, the worse the fighting becomes and the less democratic the governments.

The USA is not unique in its foreign policy misadventures, and all globe-trotting countries use the same unfortunate tactics as the USA from time to time. Sometimes, the attempts are justified. But the extent to which the USA has engaged has caused a widespread hatred of the USA across the world as a result of the long-term effects.

For more, see:

Are you an American? Are you paying attention to what your government is doing overseas? All over the world, and in the middle-east in particular, the US government is pursuing a foreign policy that many people consider immoral. We have supported, trained and armed dictators, illegitimate governments and racist and brutal regimes. We have largely ignored the pain and suffering this has caused.

Jeff Kandt (2001)7

3.2.2. Patriotism & Self Righteousness


There appears to be something about the very language employed by USA folk that causes resentment and rejection. For example, the way the 2001 attacks on the USA were called "attacks on freedom and democracy". The targets were the Pentagon, head of the military and the Foreign Policy offices, and on two towering symbols of commercialism, did not seem designed to be saying anything at all about freedom and democracy, but about the USAs effect on the world.

Mr Bush said the US had been "awakened to danger" and "called to defend freedom.

BBC News (2001)17

Coming from a country that has been fought over, bombed and attacked by American power for over 30 years, the attacks are more of a desperate attempt to strike back at the USA in particular, rather than any poor attempt at attacking freedom itself.

The language employed stinks of a kind of patriotism akin to complete indifference to the rest of the world and ignorance of America's own problems. There is a very showy, macho, self-gratifying kind of righteousness in American speech about themselves which people either assume is intentionally ironic and over the top, or they are shocked and end up thinking that American's actually think like that. The amount of self loving literature in the USA's culture causes revulsion.

It is this record of unabashed national egotism and arrogance that drives anti-Americanism among swaths of the world's population, for whom there is little democracy in the current distribution of global wealth and power.

Seumas Milne (2001)3

A love for one's own country is not inherently bad, it stinks of counterproductive pride, but it's fine if it's kept in moderation by knowledge of your own country's wrongdoings. But patriotism combined with ignorance is the worst combination in an American evangelist.

3.2.3. Oil, Bush, Kyoto

#climate_change #environmentalism #USA

In the 1970s the USA was a world leader on serious long-term environmental issues, and its scientists rang many of the first alarm bells regarding side-effects of industrial chemicals. The USA joined many groups in protecting endangered species, oceans and fisheries. Much of this continued into the 1980s. But, this didn't last. The USA drew worldwide criticism for failing to adopt the greatest international agreement for the reduction of some greenhouse gases, the Kyoto Protocol, which was accepted by nearly every other country. This is despite the fact that the USA is by a very wide margin the world's biggest polluter over time, and very disproportionately so for its population; in 2000, it had 4% of the world's population but produced 25% of the worlds' pollution18. Starting with President Bush, it has been Republican Party policy not to combat climate change and to deny the scale of the problem.

Despite the failure of USA politics, its scientific institutions have been effective in pursuing sustainable goals, led by high quality and serious university-led research, managing to co-operate at state and local levels to improve the USA's impact on the world.

For more, see:

The USA has not backed pollution treaties to reduce car emissions or petrol consumption. The US alone accounted for 36.1% of worldwide greenhouse emissions in 199019.

These failures have caused hatred not only of the Bush administration, but of USA's commercialism and culture of consumption in general.

[2012 - An update in the name of fairness - rapidly rising countries such as China have become the world's greatest environmental concern, and have conscientiously put economic growth before environmentally sound policy. Few countries have taken a permanently healthy approach.]

Many environmentalists understand that developing countries do not have the technology or means to use the most modern or environmentally friendly industrial equipment. But when such a rich country as the USA fails to take responsibility for its own pollution it really annoys a lot of people worldwide and it was one of the most common complaints given by those who spoke up in 2001/2002 to explain why they disliked the USA.

The message was: 'US corporations have the right to pollute the entire planet. The people and the environment don't matter.'

Bianca Jagger (2001)20

3.2.4. Obesity

#health #obesity #USA

Worryingly prevalent in the world's richest nation, USA culture is frequently criticized for its unwillingness to encourage walking instead of driving. And although the criticism is short sighted, it is at least common with the theme that the USA is not perceived as a healthy or wise nation by many.

America is experiencing an obesity epidemic. In 1999, sixty-one percent of Americans were overweight and twenty-six percent were obese. The definition of overweight is having a body-mass index (BMI) greater than 25, and the definition of obesity is having a BMI greater than 30.

Richard Lutes, MD (2001)21

3.3. Criticism from the West

3.3.1. European Distaste of the USA

#france #germany #italy #spain

...the German foreign policy analyst Josef Joffe, in a smart essay in The National Interest journal titled "Who's Afraid of Mr. Big?" Mr. Joffe argues that one reason no alliance has formed against America yet is because, while resentment of America is rife, particularly among European elites, the attraction of America - its culture, universities, movies, food, clothing and technologies - is just as strong, and today no power in the world can balance it. For every European elitist who resents America for what it is, there are 10 Euro-kids who want what America is. "America is both menace and seducer, both monster and model," says Mr. Joffe.

Marshallz10 (2001 Jun 16)22

In Europe, it is largely intellectual hatred of America that people take with them after abandoning childhood jealousy. Perhaps choosing to intellectualize their distaste by concentrating on North America's poor spots in history and current affairs, rather than fully fall in love with it and its globalisation, materialist dreams and multicultural freedom.

Opinion polls show that half the German population is openly critical of US leadership for a number of reasons:

  • Its failure to consult its allies as promised.
  • Its refusal to sign up to joint action against global warming.
  • Its protectionist stance on trade issues such as steel and agriculture.

BBC News (2002)23

Protests in France, Germany, Spain and Italy have surrounded President Bush's visits to these countries this month. 10,000 security officers are to be mobilised in one of the largest police deployments in Berlin's history as Bush visits during a time of massive open scorn from European citizens.

3.3.2. UN Criticism of United States' Children's Rights

The United Nations did not adopt the "Convention on the Rights of the Child", causing a confused uproar:

The United States has some of the best programs and laws in the world to protect its children but, as UNICEF has pointed out, the U.S. also has one of the highest rates of the industrialized countries for poverty and hunger among children and also for child mortality. A recent story in the Washington Post noted that "despite this time of record prosperity, one in every six American children is poor; one in three children of color. No other developed country has anything approaching U.S. child poverty rates.

United Nations' High Commissioner for Human Rights,
Mary Robinson (2001 Jan 11)24

3.3.3. Rape and Violent Crime - the Highest in the Modern World

#france #italy #japan

Nobody disputes one phenomenon disclosed by the crime statistics - the exceptionally high level of violent crime that occurs in the United States as compared with other industrialized countries, including Britain (though not compared with some third world countries). There are more reported murders each year in Detroit, with a population of just over one-and-a-half million, than in the whole of the United Kingdom, which has a population of just over fifty-eight million people. Viewed in this context, the United States is a culture in which crimes of violence flourish. Why should this be? The answer is sometimes given as the widespread availability of hand-guns and other firearms. This is surely relevant, but cannot on its own be the full answer. Switzerland has very low rates of violent crime, yet firearms are easily accessible. (All males keep weapons, including rifles, revolvers, automatic weapons, plus ammunition).

"Sociology" by Anthony Giddens (1997)25

The United States has the world's highest rape rate of the countries that publish such statistics - 13 times higher than England and more than 20 times higher than Japan. [Senate Judiciary Committee, 1990. Facts about Violence Against Women.]

University of Alabama Women's Center26

Statistics such as these appear in the Fact Sheet on Gender Violence, published by the United Nations Non-Governmental Agency, UNIFEM, and available in the Sexual Assault Education Office (USA).

WASHINGTON -- The United States is "the most violent and self-destructive nation on earth," a congressional report said Tuesday.

..."In 1990, the United States led the world with its murder, rape and robbery rates," the report said. "When viewed from the national perspective, these crime rates are sobering. When viewed from the international perspective, they are truly embarrassing".

The report noted that the murder rate in the United States was more than twice that of Northern Ireland, which is torn by civil war; four times that of Italy; nine times England's and 11 times Japan's. Violence against women in America was even more pervasive, the committee said. The rape rate in the United States was eight times higher than in France, 15 times higher than in England, 23 times higher than in Italy and 26 times higher than in Japan [...] based on raw FBI data and preliminary statistics for last year, based its comparisons on Justice Department statistics for industrialized nations. Crime reporting standards vary in those countries, and crime rates for less-developed Third World nations generally are either unavailable or unreliable. But the report made clear that violence in the United States has no equal among the world's developed nations. Nor did 1990 have a modern equal for violence in America.

Tim Weiner in San Jose Mercury News (1991)

With the wealth and material power behind the USA (they are the world's richest nation), why are these statistics so bad? It is puzzling. It is easy to say "low moral standards" and even to correlate this to "80% of all Americans call themselves Christians", but what is the cause of this low level of morals?

Is it the result of rampant commercialism, simple lack of caring in the community? Is it the result of the topography of the country? Is it the same commercialist attitude that leads to wealth, but also to crime and a low quality of society?

It is hard to say why, and this essay is looking at reasons why people hate America, so thinking about why the USA is like it is is something I leave up to the reader!

3.3.4. Tied Aid

#charity #israel #politics #USA

Throughout the 2010s, the USA proved to be the second most generous nation in the world in terms of personal charitability (after Myanmar), on the World Giving Index which quantifies the voluntary giving of money and time by country27. But some historical trends muddy the water: Some claim that too much USA aid goes to political allies such as Israel and other countries where politics and self-interest tie the aid to USA interests28,29. Public perception of this 'tied aid' bias is one reason that some gave for 'hatred' of the USA. However the criticism on tied aid is only fair when compared to how much other countries also do the same: it is surely true of all countries that their citizens give more to those other countries where there are already links.

For more, see:

Book Cover[Americans] are regularly told by politicians and the media, that America is the world's most generous nation. This is one of the most conventional pieces of 'knowledgeable ignorance'. [...For example Japan gives more even in absolute terms...]

Absolute figures are less significant than the proportion of gross domestic product (GDP, or national wealth) that a country devotes to foreign aid. On that league table, the US ranks twenty-second of the 22 most developed nations. As former President Jimmy Carter commented: 'We are the stingiest nation of all'. Denmark is top of the table, giving 1.01% of GDP, while the US manages just 0.1%. The United Nations has long established the target of 0.7% GDP for development assistance, although only four countries actually achieve this: Denmark, 1.01%; Norway, 0.91%; the Netherlands, 0.79%; Sweden, 0.7%. Apart from being the least generous nation, the US is highly selective in who receives its aid. Over 50% of its aid budget is spent on middle-income countries in the Middle East, with Israel being the recipient of the largest single share."

"Why Do People Hate America?" by Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies (2002)28

Not only that, but according to one source cited by Sarder & Davies, 80% of that aid itself actually goes to American companies in those foreign countries.

3.3.5. Abuse of the UN and International Law

#israel #politics #russia #usa

The USA has broken the UN Security Council, leading to its decreased importance and effectiveness. Repeatedly, it's done this to protect Israel, vetoing even the smallest and most reasonable measures against Israel's illegal and brutal occupations of the West Bank and Gaza. For decades, the USA abused the UN more than any other country, constantly trying to bribe and buy influence, yet is notorious for owing most to the UN, despite the USA's heavy use of it. This intolerable attitude towards world consensus causes hatred of the USA at the highest levels in all countries in the world, except in Israel. One country took note, and learnt well from this behaviour: In the past two decades, it has been Russia that copied this technique, continually vetoing even simple condemnations of atrocities, if they happen to mention Russia itself or its allies.

The USA often plays poorly on the international stage for reasons of short-term self-interest; from the Landmine Treaty, the 1972 treaty banning biological of germ warfare and Kyoto. Each of these damaged global development and destroyed long-term collaborations between developed countries that had taken a lot of effort to achieve. The USA & Israel's simultaneous rejection of the World Conference Against Racism, and USA's failure to ratify three of the six core Human Rights treaties, are often cited as reasons why people in the developed world hate whatever it is that the USA government is up to. This politics-first immorality engenders genuine hated across the world, and is seen as one of the worst aspects of American commercialism. World opinion was reflected well when the USA was voted out of the United Nations Human Rights Committee in 2001.

Commerce, oil, money and power are the only values that are apparent in Washington's lead. Over the years the world has learned to hate all American intervention because it is known full well that at the bottom of every American foreign policy these four corrupting principles are immovably roosted. Even in matters of foreign aid, the USA is abusive and two-faced. The poor USA citizens do not know the extent of the damage that their countries commercialism-at-all-costs is costing the world. World peace, world economy, third world countries, the environment and international co-operation are all victims of the USA's blatant greed.

For more, see:

3.4. Criticism from the Middle East

3.4.1. A Region Where the USA Can Do No Right


The main reasons, the overwhelming cry, is that the USA has bombed, suppressed Islamic nations and restricted them financially, commercially and politically. This has snowballed since the demise of the perception of a Communist threat. There is utter desperation that Washington is crusading against Islam and that recent events are only an excuse to continue a Christian oppression. There is a strong feeling of repression and of being hated, causing in turn a mood of resentment of the USA, a symbol of Western oppression.

The United States is anathema for essentially three reasons. Two are quite straightforward: its long history of interference in the politics of the Middle East and its support for the state of Israel. The third is more complex, but can be summarized as its being the primary carrier and exemplar of modernity. Its great economic and military power is deeply resented by Muslims who can see it both as an insult to their national pride and as a slight on the true faith of Islam but, power aside, Western culture is a threat to Islam and the United States is the main promoter of Western culture. These combine to make the United States an obvious target for Islamist terrorists.

"Fundamentalism" by Steve Bruce (2008)30

3.4.2. Osama bin Laden: Some of His 'Justifications' from 1998

Nothing can justify what Osama bin Laden orchestrated, nor what he represented. Here are some of his comments:

We however, differentiate between the western government and the people of the West. If the people have elected those governments in the latest elections, it is because they have fallen prey to the Western media which portray things contrary to what they really are. And while the slogans raised by those regimes call for humanity, justice, and peace, the behavior of their governments is completely the opposite. It is not enough for their people to show pain when they see our children being killed in Israeli raids launched by American planes, nor does this serve the purpose. What they ought to do is change their governments which attack our countries. The hostility that America continues to express against the Muslim people has given rise to feelings of animosity on the part of Muslims against America and against the West in general. Those feelings of animosity have produced a change in the behavior of some crushed and subdued groups who, instead of fighting the Americans inside the Muslim countries, went on to fight them inside the United States of America itself. [...]

The Americans started it and retaliation and punishment should be carried out following the principle of reciprocity, especially when women and children are involved. Through history, American has not been known to differentiate between the military and the civilians or between men and women or adults and children. Those who threw atomic bombs and used the weapons of mass destruction against Nagasaki and Hiroshima were the Americans. Can the bombs differentiate between military and women and infants and children? America has no religion that can deter her from exterminating whole peoples. Your position against Muslims in Palestine is despicable and disgraceful. America has no shame. ... We believe that the worst thieves in the world today and the worst terrorists are the Americans. Nothing could stop you except perhaps retaliation in kind.

Osama bin Laden (1998)
Interview with ABC reporter John Miller31

There are strong feelings throughout most Islam nations that America suppresses them. Although ordinary, peaceful citizens do not suppose as much, or feel hatred (in the same way American's should not hate all the Middle East because American embassies are bombed), it is normally the strongest and loudest voice, the most extreme, that the Western world comes to see as representative.

As Osama Bin Laden is vilified in the West, he is fast achieving the status of a cult hero in parts of the Arab world. [...] Millions of Arabs watched last Thursday as a satellite television station aired a three-year-old interview with him. Even moderate Arabs said afterwards they could identify with his criticism of America's support for Israel which still occupies Palestinian land. [...]

[Ordinary Saudis] would like US and British forces to leave Saudi Arabia. Many Saudi Islamists, who have little direct contact with the West, see these troops as colonial invaders, as latter-day crusaders come to defile the birthplace of Islam.

BBC News (2001)32

Osama bin Laden iterates the same reasons each time - the injustice done to the Palestinians, the cruelty of continued sanctions against Iraq, the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia, the repressive and corrupt nature of US-backed Gulf governments - and he wins a good deal of popular sympathy.

3.4.3. Israel

#Israel #USA

Israel, which receives over 3 billion dollars in military support from America, is very much hated amongst the Arab world. Its presence and its continual conflicts with its neighbours have caused Israel to become to be seen as another Satan, a state controlled by America, even though much of the hatred is rooted in irrationality and religious-cultural beliefs who are genuinely wrong-headed.

Israel has become the great excuse for much of the Arab world... the poisonous quality of the Israeli-Arab divide. Israel's occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has turned into the great cause of the Arab world. [...] The frustrations of ordinary Arabs are not about the clash of civilizations or the rise of McDonal's or the imperial foreign policy of the United States. They are a response to living under wretched, repressive regimes with no political voice. And they blame America for supporting those regimes.

"The Future of Freedom" by Fareed Zakaria (2003)16

...Arab nations have lost three wars against their arch-foe - and America's closest ally - Israel. A sense of failure and injustice is rising in the throats of millions.

Three weeks ago, a leading Arabic newspaper, Al-Hayat, published a poem on its front page. A long lament about the plight of the Arabs, addressed to a dead Syrian poet, it ended:

"Children are dying, but no one makes a move.
Houses are demolished, but no one makes a move.
Holy places are desecrated, but no one makes a move....
I am fed up with life in the world of mortals.
Find me a hole near you. For a life of dignity is in those holes."

It sounds as if it could have been written by a desperate and hopeless man, driven by frustration to seek death, perhaps martyrdom. A young Palestinian refugee planning a suicide bomb attack, maybe. In fact, it was written by the Saudi Arabian ambassador to London, a member of one of the wealthiest and most influential families in the kingdom that is Washington's closest Arab ally.

...From one end of the region to the other, the perception is that Israel can get away with murder - literally - and that Washington will turn a blind eye. Clearly, the US and Israel have compelling reasons for their actions. But little that US diplomats have done in recent years to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians has persuaded Arabs that the US is a fair-minded and equitable judge of Middle Eastern affairs.

Over the past year, Arab TV stations have broadcast countless pictures of Israeli soldiers shooting at Palestinian youths, Israeli tanks plowing into Palestinian homes, Israeli helicopters rocketing Palestinian streets. And they know that the US sends more than $3 billion a year in military and economic aid to Israel.

Christian Science Monitor (2001)33

4. The Results of These Feelings

On a personal level, Americans and Europeans get on: individuals are not hindered by politics. In most sane people, all of this is just politics and not something to take up with individual Americans. And rightly so, the solution is not in bickering or loss of friendship!

When people are willing to kill themselves for a cause it is not due to a whim or immature persecution complex, there must be much stronger factors involved. People willing to go this far... and to maintain that mentality for periods of time to organize an attack and carry it out have got more of a grudge than a mere shallow hatred of success or jealousy.

Now, it is very true that they do not understand fully why the West, symbolized by America, appears to be suppressing them. They receive government propaganda and biased media all their lives, it is not their fault that they have been misled. Which I believe many of them have. It is the governments and leaders that are to blame. But more often than not, there is simply no available options to remove and replace a government without causing even more hatred amongst the populace.

American foreign policy and the issues listed in the list of criticisms of America serve to cause many nations to lose sympathy with America, and causes developing countries under fanatical leaders and poor governments to be easily convinced that America is The Great Satan (which has been the term given to America for many decades by the developing world). The reasons above all serve as instruments to convince people that anti-American hatred is correct, intellectually justified.