Outside Looking In: Global Views of the United States. (Review Essays)

By Merrill, Christopher | Harvard International Review, Fall 2002 | Go to article overview

Outside Looking In: Global Views of the United States. (Review Essays)


Merrill, Christopher, Harvard International Review


Not long after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, I attended a panel titled "Why Do They Hate Us?" The panelists--academics, policymakers, and business leaders--concluded that there was little reason for anyone to question US foreign policy--a sentiment shared by much of the US public, notwithstanding the televised footage immediately following the tragedy of Muslims from Ramallah to Kuala Lumpur cheering the death and destruction visited upon the United States. But after the initial shock began to wear off and international expressions of sympathy gave way to barbed criticism of the US war on terror, support for Israel, environmental policies, and a host of other issues, many US citizens were surprised to discover just how much of the world is enraged at what former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once called "the indispensable nation." The Granta book What We Think of America explains some of the reasons why people in the rest of the world have mixed feel ings toward the United States, its policies, and its people.

This book presents 24 brief essays addressing how the United States, in the words of Granta editor Ian Jack, "has entered non-American lives, and to what effect, for good and bad and both." For this symposium Jack assembled a range of writers notable, in almost every instance, for the nuanced visions they present of the world's sole superpower. A number of these episodes and opinions, as Jack describes them, are rooted in childhood memories of US culture--hence the wistful tone that pervades the volume. For if there is a common theme in these writings from Calcutta and Sydney, Belgrade and Istanbul, and several points in between, it is the difficulty of reconciling romantic ideas of the United States--its literature, jazz, and movies; its openness and warmth; its commitment to freedom and equality--with the reality within its borders and in its foreign policies, especially those regarding the countries of the Middle East.

A novelist from Beirut, Hanan al-Shaykh, describes the negative aspects of being an immigrant to the United States; Palestinian writer Raja Shehadeh laments that US largesse still fuels the creation of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, displacing his countrymen; and Egyptian novelist Ahdaf Soueif believes that a "world dominated by America looks like a pretty nasty place." The unspoken assumption of several essays is that the United States deserved the tragedy that occurred on September 11. Doris Lessing, noting that the people of the United States imagine themselves to have been expelled from Eden, wonders why they "ever thought they had a right to one." US exceptionalism does not sit well with these writers, who question several assumptions of the US citizen mindset.

More interesting are the contributors who work against national stereotypes: French novelist Benoit Duteurtre, for example, dismisses Parisian notions of US evil, recognizing that "Europe and America are intimately linked by history, by way of life and thought." He believes that both Europe and the United States belong to the same society, which they must transform together--an idea flatly rejected by British playwright Harold Pinter in a screed against NATO's "humanitarian intervention" in Serbia. He reprints an address he delivered on September 10, 2001, in which he argued that the United States is the greatest rogue power in the history of the world. His evidence is the errant bomb in the NATO air campaign against Serbia that killed 33 civilians. Pinter glosses over the fact that at the time of the bombing Serbian forces were carrying out Slobodan Milosevic's orders to ethnically cleanse Kosovo of its Albanian population. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Outside Looking In: Global Views of the United States. (Review Essays)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.