Anger at the U.S.

James Lileks, toward the end of a really long, rambling column about nothing in particular, asks some interesting if rhetorical questions:

We stopped pretending we would ratify Kyoto. We only spent $15 billion on AIDS in Africa. We did not take dictation from Paris. If we had done these things, it would minimize the world̢۪s anger.

Is the world angry at Russia, which spends nothing on AIDS and rebuffed Kyoto? Is the world angry at China, which got a pass on Kyoto and spends nothing on AIDS for other countries?

Is the world angry at North Korea for killings its people? Angry at Iran for smothering that vibrant nation with corrupt and thuggish mullocracy? Angry at Syria for occupying Lebanon? Angry at Saudi Arabia for its denial of women̢۪s rights? Angry at Russia for corrupt elections? Is the world angry at China for threatening Taiwan, or angry at France for joining the Chinese in joint military exercises that threatened the island on the eve of an election? Is the world angry at Zimbabwe for stealing land and starving people? Is the world angry at Pakistan for selling nuclear secrets? Is the world angry at Libya for having an NBC program?

Is the world angry at the thugs of Fallujah?

Is the world angry at anyone besides America and Israel?

It doesn’t seem like it. And, strangely, many of those people acted unilaterally.

And this picture is priceless:

By toppling the fascists in Baghdad without French seal of approval, we have encouraged recruitment in terrorist organizations. It’s not the invasion that ticked off the Man in the Arab Street, it’s the lack of a 17th UN resolution on Iraq. Right now in a café in Beirut an educated man, a chemist by trade, schooled in the ways of the West, is reading an article about how the US will only spent $15 billion on AIDS and probably won’t reduce its carbon emissions to 1817 levels, and he throws down the paper in disgust: bastards! I must join Al Qaeda, move to Iraq and kill the contractors who are upgrading their outmoded infrastructure!

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Ross Judson says:

    Lileks’ comment seems like childish absolutism to me.

    Imagine a four year old saying, “everybody HATES me!”.

    Boo hoo. The world is a complicated place. We exist in a sea of love-hate relationships. Saying that everybody in the world hates the US and only the US is simply ridiculous and is untrue. It’s made doubly so by the fact that much of the world clearly _likes_ the US.

    It’s a straw man.

  2. Dr. Freud says:

    Lileks comments are spot on – his thrust isn’t a strawman that “all” people hated the US. It is the incredible hypocrisy the Left has when judging American actions.

    Every little imperfect thing the US does seems to carry for more weight than atrocities abroad. As most parents will tell you this is typical behavior from children. Remember when your parents were incredibly embarassing and just didn’t get it while your friends’ parents were oh so cool?

  3. Mithras says:

    It is the incredible hypocrisy the Left has when judging American actions.

    Let’s see. I vote in America. Supposedly, that means I elect the people who run the government. And they act in my name. By the way, we hold ourselves up as the source of liberty and the acme of liberal capitalist democracy. So, maybe I should focus on the actions of my country, for which I have – you know – a certain responsibility.

    Wait, is that a dirty word to conservatives? Sorry.

  4. Dave says:

    It’s not responsibility, but foolishness, when high-visibility folks on the Left act as only America’s stumbles matter, and as if only America can start something. France is only REACTING to our boorishness! They have no will of their own! China’s violations of human rights DON’T MATTER AT ALL, because The United States Isn’t Perfect Yet!

    Sure, it’s an exaggeration. But once you clear away down to the brass tacks of what Kerry, or Hollywood Leftists, or Pelosi, say, it pretty well sums it up. Oh, along with “Everything Wrong In The World Is The Direct Fault Of George W. Bush or Karl Rove!”

  5. Paul says:

    Dave it is not an exaggeration… the whack jobs on the left keep saying North Korea developed nukes because Bush called them a name in the State of the Union.

    Exaggeration? Strawman? Not hardly.

  6. akim says:

    Nice discussion on stereotypes. But stereotypes point to general trends in reality. I have to wonder – is there such a thing as a liberal, or it’s all “extreme left and nothing but the left”?

    Likewise all conservatives are not equal – thank God :-0

    Wouldn’t it be hilarious if I decided to portray the author of this blog as the most cartoonish right-winger – just because some of his opinions brush on that fringe? That’s stereotyping, labelling etc. Good for cartoons, not good for reality.

    So yeah, Lileks is a satirist – a cartoonist, in other words 🙂