In a slightly different form, this was given as a lecture in an Amsterdam symposium, held under the auspices of the lively and resourceful Netherlands American Studies Association. Rob Kroes of Amsterdam's Free University has brought out a flow of annual volumes edited from conference papers. The theme of anti-Americanism crops up in previous essays of mine. Though they do not show any big shift in attitude, I think I have become more skeptical over the years about the supposed depth and wrongness of the phenomenon.
There is much talk of "anti-Americanism" in the twentieth century world. Yet, as with a number of other terms in common use, it resists precise definition. David Strauss, author of Menace in the West ( 1978), a study of French anti- Americanism focusing on the period 1917-32, says that anti-Americanism has in recent years denoted "sharp criticism of American policies, frequently resulting in violent demonstrations against the symbols of American power abroad." In older and broader usages, anti-Americanism might refer to "a philosophy, ideology, or institutional framework based on assumptions and principles which ran counter to the Americanist position": that is, to the "values, practices, and institutions which had their origin in the United States and were far more permanent than official policies."1 For Strauss, then, anti-Americanism may____________________