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Tribune de Geneve, Switzerland

Can America 'Find Love' Again?

… Some Friendly Swiss Advice

 

"Don't spend all your time on the defensive, but draw the world behind you in a friendly, dynamic and desirable way. America has all of the intellectual, moral and material means to do so; and George W. Bush won't be around much longer."

 

By Claude Monnier

                                   

 

Translated By Pascaline Jay

 

August 14, 2007

 

Switzerland - Tribune de Geneve - Original Article (French)

A certain anti-Americanism has always existed, just as there have always been people with no love for the Germans, the French, the Russians, or even those sweet princes, the Swiss. C'est la vie! [That's life!] Nevertheless, there have also been long periods during which the United States was admired, respected and beloved, like a kind of big strapping brother who succeeds at everything he tries, thinks about others and sets a good example.

 

Of course, it took the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941 to persuade the United States to commit its forces in the World War. But yet it did so, and therefore contributed to ridding our Old Continent of the Nazi peril. From then on, millions of grateful Europeans developed a generalized American-ofilia: everything American was inspirational, and they perceived the Yankees as extremely sympathetic figures, giving out chewing gum, producing movies of unsurpassed quality, having well-endowed and brilliant universities and conducting business like no one else. At that time, many people, consciously or unconsciously, took Americans as role models.

 

But times have changed, as a timely, scientific and massive Pew Foundation poll of 45,000 people around the world shows. People in 47 countries or territories were questioned last spring . The falling-out-of-love with America comes across loud and clear and is in the process of accelerating, except in some rare countries, particularly in Africa. In a nutshell, the people who have been questioned criticize America for doing whatever it feels like doing - since it has the power to do so - without checking to see what others think and feel.

 

Nevertheless, one also perceives some underlying hope in the replies people gave to the Pew survey: America could again be seen as a benevolent and respected world leader. But is a turnaround of such magnitude possible?

 

Three things must be said on this subject. Firstly, at the end of the day, all great powers end up declining, crushed under their own weight no matter what their political system; I'm convinced that America has begun this decline, but since the process is so gradual, it could last another hundred years!

 

Second, great powers become progressively more dangerous in their declining phase than during more stable periods, as they tend to react like ferocious wounded tigers.

 

Thirdly, that America, since it has a real tradition of being at least to a certain degree a benevolent power - although it's actual virtues shouldn't be exaggerated! - even if it's in the difficult decline phase it should be capable being loved, appreciated and respected again for at least, let us say, another fifty years!

 

How? … In principle, the recipe is simple. There's a famous saying Anglophone saying, “If you can't lick'em, join'em.” I suggest adapting it a little for the United States: “America, if you can't lick the rest of the world, assume a benevolent leadership position!” Instead of sulking over the Kyoto protocols, take the lead and overdo them a little. What will that cost you? Nothing compared to the political and financial benefits it will reap. Instead of refusing to talk to Syria, Iran, North Korea and Venezuela, hold out your hand to them, entice them, be generous and understanding; the U.S. succeeded doing so with Pakistan, India and even with China.

 

In brief, don't spend all your time on the defensive, but draw the world behind you in a friendly, dynamic and desirable way. America has all of the intellectual, moral and material means to do so; and George W. Bush won't be around much longer.

 

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Results from a Pew Poll conducted with 45,000 people in 47 countries, released in June, 2007.