1. Last year I visited London and stumbled upon an essay in a Sunday paper written by Margret Drabble, one of Britain’s pre-eminent ladies of letters. “My anti-Americanism has become almost uncontrollable,” she wrote. “It has possessed me, like a disease. It rises up in my throat like acid reflux, that fashionable American sickness. I now loathe the United States and what it has done to Iraq and the rest of the helpless world.”
2. The essay continued in the same rather bilious vein for about a thousand words, and as I read it, two things struck me：The first was how appalled I was by Drabble’s crassly oversimplistic analysis of what America was all about, of who its people were, and of what its culture valued; the second was a sense somewhat akin to fear as I thought through the implications of the venom attached to the words of this gentle scribe of the English bourgeoisie. After all, if someone whose country and class have so clearly benefited economically from the protections provided by American military and political ties reacts so passionately to the omnipresence of the United States, what must an angry, impoverished young man in a failing third world state feel?
3. I grew up in London in the 1970s and 1980s, in a country that was struggling to craft a postcolonial identity for itself, a country that was, in many ways, still reeling from the collapse of power it suffered in the post-World War II years. Not surprisingly, there was a strong anti-American flavor to much of the politics, the humor, the cultural chitchat of the period; after all, America had dramatically usurped Britannia on the world stage, and who among us doesn’t harbor some resentments at being shunted onto the sidelines by a new superstar?
4. Today, however, when I talk with friends and relatives in London, when I visit Europe, the anti—Americanism is more than just sardonic asides, rueful Monty Python-style jibes, and haughty intimations of superiority. Today something much more visceral is in the air. I go to my old home and I get the distinct impression that, as Drabble put it, people really loathe America somewhere deep, deep in their gut.
5. A Pew Research Center Global Attitudes Project survey recently found that even in Britain, America’s staunchest ally, more than 6 out of l0 people polled believed the United States paid little or no attention to that country’s interests. About 80 percent of French and German respondents stated that, because of the war in Iraq, they had less confidence in the trust-worthiness of America. In the Muslim countries surveyed, large majorities believed the war on terror to be about establishing U.S. world domination.
6. Indeed, in many countries—in the Arab world and in regions, such as Western Europe, closely tied into American economic and military structures—popular opinion about both America the country and Americans as individuals has taken a serious hit. Just weeks ago, 27 of America’s top retired diplomats and military commanders warned in a public statement, “Never in the past centuries of our history has the United States been so isolated among the nations, so broadly feared and distrusted. ”
7. If true, that suggests that, while to all appearances America’s allies continue to craft policies in line with the wishes of Washington, underneath the surface a new dynamic may well be emerging, one not too dissimilar to the Soviet Union’s relations with its reluctant satellite states in Eastern Europe during the cold war. America’s friends may be quiescent in public, deeply reluctant to toe the line in private. Drabble mentioned the Iraq war as her primary casus belli with the United States.
8. In many ways, the Iraq war is merely a pretext for a deeper discontent with how America has seemed to fashion a new global society, a new economic, military, and political order in the decade and a half since the end of the cold war. America may only be riding the crest of a wave of modernization that, in all likelihood, would have emerged without its guiding hand. But add to the mix a discontent with the vast wealth and power that America has amassed in the past century and a deep sense of unease with the ways in which a secular, market-driven world divvies up wealth and influence among people and nations, and you have all the ingredients for a nasty backlash against America.
9. In the years since I stood on my rooftop in Brooklyn watching the World Trade Center towers bum so apocalyptically, I have spent at least a part of every day wrestling with a host of existential questions. I can’t help it — almost obsessively I churn thoughts over and over in my head, trying to understand the psychological contours of this cruel new world. The questions largely boil down to the following：Where has the world’s faith in America gone? Where is the American Dream headed?
10. What is happening to that intangible force that helped shape our modern world, that invisible symbiotic relationship between the good will of foreigners and the successful functioning of the American “way of life,” that willingness by strangers to let us serve as the repository for their dreams, their hopes, their visions of a better future? In the same way that the scale of our national debt i s made possible only because other countries are willing to buy treasury bonds and, in effect, lend us their savings, so it seems to me the American Dream has been largely facilitated by the willingness of other peoples to lend us their expectations for the future. Without that willingness, the Dream is a bubble primed to burst. It hasn’t burst yet — witness the huge numbers who still migrate to America in search of the good life — but 1 worry that it is leaking seriously.
11. Few countries and cultures have risen to global prominence as quickly as America did in the years after the Civil War. Fewer still have so definitively laid claim to an era, while that era was still unfolding, as we did—and as the world acknowledged—during the 20th century, “the American Century.”
12. While the old powers of Europe tore themselves apart during World War I, the United States entered the war late and fought the fight on other people’s home terrain. While whole societies were destroyed during World War II, America’s political and economic system flourished, its dries thrived, and its entertainment industries soared. In other words, as America rose to global pre-eminence during the bloody first half of the 20th century, it projected outward an aura of invulnerability, a vision of “normalcy” redolent with consumer temptations and glamorous cultural spectacles. In an exhibit at the museum on Ellis Island a few years back, I remember seeing a copy of a letter written by a young Polish migrant in New York to his family back home. Urging them to join him, he wrote that the ordinary person on the streets of America lived a life far more comfortable than aristocrats in Poland could possibly dream of.
13. In a way America, during the American Century, thus served as a safety valve, allowing the world’s poor to dream of a better place somewhere else; to visualize a place neither bound by the constraints of old nor held hostage to the messianic visions of revolutionary radicals or Fascist movements so powerful in so many other parts of the globe.
14. Throughout the cold war, even as America spent unprecedented amounts on military hardware, enough was left over to nurture the mass-consumption culture, to build up an infrastructure of vast proportions. And despite the war in Vietnam, despite the dirty wars that ravaged Latin America in the 1 980s, despite America’s nefarious role in promoting coups and dictatorships in a slew of countries-cum-cold-war-pawns around the globe, somehow much of the world preserved a rosy-hued vision of America that could have been culled straight from the marketing rooms of Madison Avenue.
15. Now something is changing. Having dealt with history largely on its own terms, largely with the ability to deflect the worst of the chaos to arenas outside its borders, America has attracted a concentrated fury and vengeful ire of disastrous proportions. The willingness to forgive, embodied in so much of the world’s embrace of the American Dream, is being replaced by a rather vicious craving to see America—which, under the Bush administration, has increasingly defined its greatness by way of military triumphs—humbled. Moreover, no great power has served as a magnet for such a maelstrom of hate in an era as saturated with media images, as susceptible to instantaneous opinion—shaping coverage of events occurring anywhere in the world.
16. I guess the question that gnaws at my consciousness could be rephrased as: HOW does one give an encore to a bravura performance? It’s either an anticlimax or, worse, a dismal failure—with the audience heading out the doors halfway through, talking not of the brilliance of the earlier music, but of the tawdriness of the last few bars. If the 20th century was the American Century, its best hopes largely embodied by something akin to the American Dream, what kind of follow—up can the 21st century bring?
17. In the immediate aftermath of September 11, an outpouring of genuine, if temporary, solidarity from countries and peoples across the globe swathed America in an aura of magnificent victimhood. We, the most powerful country on earth, had been blindsided by a ruthless, ingenious, and barbaric enemy, two of our greatest cities violated. We demanded the world’s tears, and, overwhelmingly, we received them. They were, we felt, no less than our due, no more than our merit.
18. Perhaps inevitably, however, that sympathy has now largely dissipated. Powerful countries under attack fight back — ruthlessly, brutally, with all the economic, political, diplomatic, and military resources at their disposal.
19. In the post-September 11 world, even leaving aside Iraq and all the distortions, half-truths and lies used to justify the invasion, even leaving aside the cataclysmic impact of the Abu Ghraib prison photographs, I believe America would have attracted significant wrath simply in doing what had to be done in routing out the Taliban in Afghanistan, in reorienting its foreign policy to try and tackle international terror networks and breeding grounds. That is why I come back time and again in my mind to the tactical brilliance of A1 Qaeda’s September 11 attacks: If America hadn’t responded, a green light would have been turned on, one that signaled that the country was too decadent to defend its vital interests. Yet in responding, the response itself was almost guaranteed to spotlight an empire bullying allies and enemies alike into cooperation and subordination and, thus, to focus an inchoate rage against the world’s lone standing superpower. Damned if we did, damned if we didn’t.
20. Which brings me back to the American Dream. In the past even as our power grew, much of the world saw us, rightly or wrongly, as a moral beacon, as a country somehow largely outside the bloody, gory, oft-tyrannical history that carved its swath across so much of the world during the American Century. Indeed, in many ways, even as cultural elites in once-glorious Old World nations sneered at upstart, crass, consumerist America, the masses in those nations idealized America as some sort of Promised Land. In many ways, the American Dream of the last 100-some years has been more something dreamed by foreigners from afar, especially those who experienced fascism or Stalinism, than lived as a universal reality on the ground in the United States.
21. Things look simpler from a distance than they do on the ground. In the past foreigners might have idealized America as a place whose streets were paved if not with gold, at least with alloys seeded with rare and precious metals, even while those who lived here knew it was a gigantic, complicated, multifaceted, continental country with a vast patchwork of cultures and creeds coexisting side by messy side. Today, I fear, foreigners slumber with dreamy American smiles on their sleeping faces no more;that intangible faith in the pastel-colored hue and soft contours of the Dream risks being shattered, replaced instead by an equally simplistic dislike of all things and peoples American. The Pew survey, for example, found that sizable majorities in countries such as Jordan, Morocco, Turkey, Germany, and France believed the war on terror to be largely about the United States wanting to control Middle Eastern oil supplies.
22. In other words, the perception — never universally held, but held by enough people to help shape our global image — is changing. Once our image abroad was of an exceptional country accruing all the power of empire without the psychology of empire; now it is being replaced by something more historically normal — that of a great power determined to preserve and expand its might, for its own selfish interests and not much else.
23. Maybe the American Dream always was little more than marketing hype. But as the savagery of the images coming out of Iraq demonstrate all too well, we live in a world where image is if not everything, at least crucial. Perhaps I’m wrong and the American Dream will continue to sweeten the sleep of those living overseas for another century. I certainly hope, very much, that I’m wrong — for a world denuded of the Dream, however far from complex reality that Dream might have been, would be impoverished indeed. But I worry that that encore I mentioned earlier won’t be nearly as breathtaking or as splendid as the original performance that shaped the first American century.
5. 近来, 普尤调查中心全球态度项目调查显示，甚至在美国最忠诚的盟友英国，超过百分之六十的人认为，美国很少顾及或是无视英国的利益。接受调查的法国和德国人当中，约有百分之八十表明，由于伊拉克战争，他们对美国可信赖度的信心减弱。在穆斯林国家的调查显示，大部分人认为美国发动的反恐战争只是意欲建立其世界霸主地位。
19. 911事件之后，暂不考虑伊拉克战争以及所有歪曲的事实、半真半假的报道以及用以证明入侵正义性的谎言，甚至也不考虑美军在伊拉克阿布格莱卜监狱虐俘的照片所造成的巨大影响，我相信美国仅凭在阿富汗为肃清塔利班势力而所做的一切，以及重新调整外交政策以对付国际恐怖组织和滋生地就会招致极大的愤慨。那就是为什么在我脑海里一次次地回想基地组织911袭击策略上的精明：如果美国没有做出反应 就等于亮起了一盏绿灯，表明这个国家太过腐朽而无力捍卫自己的切身利益;如果作出反应，这种反应本身几乎足以显示一个帝国威吓同盟国和敌对国与其合作或对其屈服，这样，一开始愤怒就对准了世界孓然一身的超级大国。真混蛋，我们做也不是，不做也不是。
21. 从远处观望事情比亲临实地的看法要简单许多。以前那些没到过美国的外国人可能会把美国想象成大街上就算不是铺满黄金，至少也是铺满稀有贵重合金的国家，而那些真正生活在美国的人知道，美国是一个巨大的、复杂的、多面的，各种拼盘文化和信仰混杂并存的大陆国家。如今，恐怕外国人不再脸上挂着梦见美国时的微笑入眠了;对于多彩柔和的美国梦，那种不可明喻的信仰正承受着破灭的危险，被一种全美的事物和全 美国的民众都该一律令人讨厌的情绪所取代。例如，普尤研究中心调查显示，在一些国家，如约旦，摩洛哥，土耳其，德国和法国，有相当多的人认为，美国的反恐战争主要是为了控制中东石油的供应。