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27.5.03

(Part 1: the article)
The Perils Of Lite Anti-Americanism

There is murderous anti-Americanism, and then there is anti-Americanism lite. The first is the anti-Americanism of fanatical terrorists who hate the United States—its power, its values, and its policies—and are willing to kill and to die in order to hurt the United States and its citizens. The second is the anti-Americanism of those in the United States and abroad who take to the streets and the media to rant against the country but do not seek its destruction.

Both lite anti-Americans and U.S. policymakers share the illusion that anti-Americanism that falls short of terrorism carries few concrete costs. Lite anti-Americans will tell you that they love the United States but despise its policies and that criticizing its government is indeed healthy.

... Those who partake and spread lite anti-Americanism, even while sharing the principles and values the United States stands for, undermine the country’s ability to defend such principles abroad. After all, international influence requires power, but it also depends on legitimacy. Such legitimacy flows from the acceptance of others who not only allow but even welcome the use of that influence. Maybe U.S. legitimacy abroad was undermined by Bush’s threats to act alone in Iraq and to impose the will of his administration on others. But such actions were interpreted by much of the world through the lens of deep suspicions about the United States that predate Bush’s presidency. Ultimately, the automatic rejection by lite anti-Americans of U.S. international actions may be as bad for the world as giving the superpower a blank check to exert its power without the constraints imposed by the international community.

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