Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Needs Young Allies Abroad

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Needs Young Allies Abroad

Article excerpt

'Bush, Cheney, and capitalism are the real axis of evil." "America may not have the resolve to rebuild Iraq." As an American studying in Britain, I'm bombarded daily by criticism of US foreign policy. Some criticisms are the misguided rants of European extremists. Other criticisms are the thoughtful observations of European moderates. During the past year, I've noticed an alarming increase in radical anti-American sentiment. My personal experiences have convinced me that growing American unilateralism has contributed to this radicalism.

I moved to Britain just two weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks last year. The British people were incredibly welcoming. Whenever I mentioned that I had family in New York City, I was greeted with a concerned expression and the question, "Is your family OK?"

Overwhelmingly, the Britons I spoke to supported the US war on terrorism. They, too, were horrified by the ghastly spectacle of Sept. 11. They, too, believed in eradicating terror by force. Occasionally, I'd run into a British student who angrily opposed "American hegemony." But only once last year did I hear a European make a virulent anti-American comment - "Americans deserved Sept. 11" - and his remark was quickly rebutted by fellow Europeans.

As the US has moved from the war on terrorism to a potential war on Iraq, the tide here has turned. Whereas moderate voices once dominated public debate, radical dissent has become increasingly prevalent. Over the past two months, I've heard outlandish statements proliferate: "Americans want to kill innocent Iraqis." "Americans only care about oil and Israel." "America is more dangerous than Iraq."

It would be easy to dismiss these remarks as the insensitivity of juvenile students going through an antiestablishment phase in which they hate anything American. But having seen the extremist sentiment develop here, I can testify that the driving force behind its rapid growth is American unilateralism.

When the debate over Iraq began, moderate voices prevailed. Most Europeans opposed the war, but they did so on reasonable grounds. Europeans were genuinely concerned that the US would remove Saddam Hussein, and then not rebuild Iraq. A popular argument was: "Americans are great at winning wars, but very poor at cleaning them up."

In the past few months, however, sentiment has become more extreme as moderates felt ignored by US foreign policy. A few weeks ago, a demonstration against US foreign policy in London attracted over 150,000 protesters. One British student here observed, "The more Bush has dismissed our opinion, the more impassioned we have become in our support of it."

And Britain is not unique in its rising radicalism. A recent e- mail from an American friend in Moscow tells a similar tale of fading Russian sympathy - from intense Sept. …

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