All these examples — and far more could be adduced — reveal a radical disconnect between rhetoric and reality. South Americans want unfettered access into America's markets, assume thousands will illegally cross into the United States, and welcome in return billions in cash remittances. Similarly, Spain assumes perpetual NATO protection. In reality that means that the U.S. nuclear deterrent and its vast conventional forces will keep the Mediterranean and Western Europe free from outside threats at little cost to Spain, with a relatively low American profile, and in consultation with Spanish officials. The bad cop United States is not unwelcome to anyone dealing with Iran, because all accept that the scary scenario — America is the only power with the capability and will to stop Iran's nuclear roguery — is not as bad as the worse alternative of the theocracy becoming a major nuclear power.
Why then all the dissimilation? The most obvious answer is pride, envy, jealousy, and all the other primordial emotions that the weak and the vulnerable harbor against the strong and autonomous.
Second, for all our pride, we are not like the once-powerful — and scary — Soviet Union, so Latin Americans and Europeans know that there is rarely any price to be paid for attacking the United States. Slandering us is a win-win situation — cowardly and expedient to be sure, but hardly like indicting bin Laden or embargoing Iranian oil. No Argentinean is furious over Chinese unfair trade; no Spaniard protests Russian oilmen for spoiling the arctic. And worse still, we know why.
Third, so far anti-Americanism is tactically smart. The heated rhetoric of the extremists makes others seem moderate. So Latin American leaders can grudgingly "take political risks" to "permit" America to accept their cheap products into the United States. The leftwing Spanish government can pose as responsible in opposing its own court's theatrics. The Europeans and U.N. can apologize to Iran that it is forced into such unpleasant dialogue by the alternative specter of American preemption and unilateralism.
Fourth, the world since the Cold War has become a much wealthier and safer place with the demise of nuclear and intercontinental Communism, and the onset of globalization. Latin Americans are furious not that they are starving in 1950s fashion, but that their glimpse of parity with the affluent United States is slipping away. Spaniards are safe and secure, but in typical human fashion of ever rising expectations, even more apprehensive that things are not as heaven on earth. And Europeans and internationalists are frustrated with Iran. It has oil and money and has been left alone, so why would it wish to ruin a good thing and call the bluff of their new enlightened order?
Are there any dangers to this game of rhetoric masking reality? Plenty. It is now old, tiring, and predictable. The American people are on to the fraud, and probably don't much care for another free trade agreement with ingrates who slander what benefits them. They are tired of NATO and want it to nobly die on the vine and allow utopians to get a taste of the real world they so disdain. And wisely or not, they are not too fond of the Middle East and pretty much want those whom Iran immediately threatens to deal with it on their own and count us out. Our critics forget that American foreign policy is ultimately simply a representation of collective will. Nations are simply people, and thus subject to emotional urges that often trump reason.
So by castigating the U.S., critics forget that their long-term welfare is not the same as the short-term interests of America. Open markets, military alliances between liberal democracies, and sober joint actions now to prevent worse threats later on are to everyone's advantage. But for right now, the United States might benefit by not welcoming any additional free and unfair trade with South America, or spending billions on European defense, or taking on any more burdens in the Middle East.
In contrast, an India, Japan, and Australia are proud and confident nations. They don't indict our citizens and often appreciate an American global role, whether outsourcing jobs or patrolling regional waters. Unlike the U.N., the EU, and South America, they spare us the sanctimonious lectures and look forward rather than nurse wounds of the past.
The world is changing as we speak. The great untold story of our age is that others need to get a life and the United States needs to move on.
Hanson in agreement with the President and the "experts" on free trade. I am looking for guarantees that don't seem to be there before fixing a seal of A-OK!