Social Question

jordym84's avatar

At what point in history did the USA become so despised by other nations and why?

Asked by jordym84 (4737 points ) April 22nd, 2013

I’ve lived in the US of A for the majority of my formative years (going on 10 years in just a few months) and I can’t think of a time when I didn’t hear of another nation wanting to harm the US and its citizens. Where I’m from, the US is revered by pretty much everyone (so much so that the vast majority of my countrymen have relatives who immigrated here) and yet there are all these other countries who seem to have nothing but unrelenting (bordering on obsessive) contempt for the US.

With the recent events in Boston, I’ve been wondering what makes the US such an attractive target for terrorists. It seems like we’re constantly hearing of countries/radical groups whose sole purpose seems to be to terrorize and cause pain and loss to the US and I’m curious to know at what point in history this all began, who exactly they hate (the government, civilians, both?), and why this is so.

As an aside, what, in your opinion, can be done (if anything at all) by the US as a nation to try to ease the hatred and resulting innocent suffering and loss?

Looking forward to reading your thoughts on this!

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34 Answers

talljasperman's avatar

~USA and Russia supplied the weapons to both sides and caused major havoc and pain.
~ but I’m sure that the missiles built in Columbine were just for show, and not intended for
~actual use on civilians by accident. seeing that they were meant for harmless duck hunting.

I suggest doing what Tony Stark did in the Iron Man anime… switch from making lethal weapons to non lethal arms and medical supplies, and make war a not for profit profession.

gorillapaws's avatar

George W. Bush basically went against NATO, the UN and the global community of nations when he invaded Iraq to stop the WMD’d that weren’t there. The “coalition” was pathetically small. Republicans and Fox News have also played a major part in America loosing respect in the eyes of the international community.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@gorillapaws that would make sense except much of the world hated the US before George Bush was born. To blame it all on him and the republicans is fascile.

Much of Latin America hated us since the Monroe Doctrine went into effect, and the US Marines became the debt collectors for the European powers.

Since the end of WW2 Russia and we have been rivals and many third world nations resented the fact that we used them against each other.

Then there are the rulers that envy our wealth and resources.

ETpro's avatar

We have a 100+ year history of interfering in the internal affairs of foreign nations and, since the end of WWII, either launching unprovoked attacks, or provoking military responses we could put down so we could shape the world for a New World Order of corporate ownership and wage slavery. It started with ensuring access to our oil that was inconveniently located under other nation’s soil, but has expanded to the neocon drive to destroy any nation that dares to try any government model short of pure market-based capitalism lest they be seen to work better than our system and thus topple our owner’s control.

gorillapaws's avatar

@WestRiverrat The US had a lot of respect from the global community during the Clinton administration. For example, we handled the Milosevic Balkin crisis so well that it’d be hard to imagine how it could have been improved upon. I agree that pockets of Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia disliked us, but on average Americans were well liked.

The “if you’re not with us, then you’re against us/freedom fries/fuck everyone else we’ll do what we want” attitude is where we really went off the tracks. Ask just about any foreigner.

Republicans recently shot down a bill to ratify a UN resolution based on our own Americans With Disabilities Act It’s a fucking disgrace and an embarrassment.

ucme's avatar

Being despised isn’t so bad, better than being mercilessly mocked like Belgium or Germany for example.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Ever since we started sticking our nose in other countries’ shit, pretty much.

flutherother's avatar

People despised the US when it began to dominate the planet militarily, culturally and economically showing ignorance and contempt for everything foreign. America should acknowledge some of the harm its military adventures have caused and try to make amends. Babies are still born deformed in south east asia due to the widespread spraying of Agent Orange and in Iraq because of the weaponry used at Falluja. The carpet bombing of Cambodia destabilised the country and allowed Pol Pot to rise to power which led to a Holocaust in the Far East. By any standards these were criminal actions on a huge scale that have never been fully recognised.

bkcunningham's avatar

@jordym84, you wrote: ”...yet there are all these other countries who seem to have nothing but unrelenting (bordering on obsessive) contempt for the US.

“With the recent events in Boston, I’ve been wondering what makes the US such an attractive target for terrorists. It seems like we’re constantly hearing of countries/radical groups whose sole purpose seems to be to terrorize and cause pain and loss to the US and I’m curious to know at what point in history this all began, who exactly they hate (the government, civilians, both?), and why this is so.”

Who are “all these other countries” who seem to “have nothing but unrelenting (bordering on obsessive) contempt for the US?

And, also, when you say, “we’re constantly hearing of “countries/radical groups” whose sole purpose seems to be to “terrorize and cause pain and loss to the US,” who are these countries and radical groups you speak about?

Knowing the answers to these questions would be the logical way for me to try and answer your question. Who are these countries and groups who despise, have unrelenting contempt and whose sole purpose seems to be to terrorize and cause pain to the US?

janbb's avatar

I agree with @bkcunningham – there are many unproven generalizations in your question. But to answer the premise broadly, I would say since the end of the Cold War and the Vietnam War, America has been the sole Super Power in the world and that is one reason why we are hated when we are. The assumption of “American Exceptionalism” which is alluded to again and again is another reason.

And there certainly still is – and has been – terrorism in many other countries for many reasons over the years. We are not even exceptional in this.

JLeslie's avatar

America has been very prosperous and powerful and that makes us a target. It is a double edged sword of people wanting to come here seeking the American Dream, and people who want to knock us down.

As far as the terrorism going on in America and other western countries, Israel has something to do with it. See the middle east was occupied by Europe, so from the Muslim perspective their land was taken. When they finally gave the land back they drew kind of arbitrary lines from the Arab perspective and formed what is today now Iraq, Israel, etc. Many Arabs believe Israel should not have been given to the Jewish people, but indeed Jewish people had been living there already, it wasn’t completely arbitrary. Thing is, part of what went into the decision making was the Jews had just been through the Holocaust in Europe, so there was some sympathy for the Jews in the world at large. America supports Israel and will fight for her, so it if a particular Arab group, or Persian group, hates Israel they hate America by association.

Also, there are religious reasons. If you believe showing your stomach and knees is going to piss off God, well, in America there are a lot of stomach and knees showing. Pissing off God is a pretty scary prospect to someone who is afraid of the wrath of God.

America right now is sort of like the Jews during the holocaust. We supposedly are to blame for the woes on earth, and eradicating us will help bring right to the world. Or, at least that is how some people look at. A few people, it isn’t many. It’s just the people who hate us are very vocal, or very scary. It is not always middle eastern countries. In fact we have internal conflict over what America should be also. Every so often some rogue nut wants to make a point and blows something up. Ongoing we have arguments about what our laws should be and what America should be.

bookish1's avatar

Coming out from my history exam coma to take a stab at this.

I’d say it happened in at least two distinct phases. One was during the Cold War, when the U.S. was one of two superpowers competing for military/political influence and resources (especially oil and the raw materials for nuclear weapons) with the U.S.S.R. We used the imperative of fighting communism and defending ‘freedom’ as an excuse to depose democratically elected leaders such as Jacobo Arbenz, who had policies that were not favorable to U.S. economic interests (letting desperately poor farmers grow food on fallow land held by United Fruit, gasp!) but who were not really Communists, and instated or backed numerous oppressive dictators who enriched themselves at their subjects’ expense, like the Shah of Iran. Many of these actions were undertaken by the C.I.A., and Americans’ understanding of them was very limited at the time (as it still often is now). Both bipolar powers in the Cold War used their respective ideology as an excuse for imperialism. I just know more about the U.S. side. The Vietnam War signified to much of the world that the U.S. was an imperial power, because we used anti-communism as an excuse to fight against what many perceived as ‘national liberation.’

After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the U.S. was the only remaining superpower, and thus became the target of all sorts of groups who wanted to find a cause for the problems they perceived in the world. The events on September 11, 2001, attacks on America’s financial and military headquarters, showed these discontented parties that the last superpower could symbolically be brought to its knees. And the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan have vindicated some people’s preconceived notions that the U.S. is at war with “the Muslim world” in general.

Running through both of these periods, the staunch American support of Israel has attracted criticism from many quarters.

JLeslie's avatar

@bookish1 Reading your answer also had me thinking about the fact that we are the only country that has dropped an atomic bomb. I think that is one more piece for people who see us as war mongers. Add in we want to prevent other countries from going nuclear. From the outside I can see how that can be twisted into believing the US wants to control the world.

josie's avatar

I won’t accept the premise.

I’ve had an opportunity to be in a lot of strange places on Earth, and American hating Americans might be surprised to know that most people on Earth hold a grudging respect for Americans.

It is certainly fashionable in some circles to vigorously gripe about the Americans, and not without reason. But in the same breath, most people dread the thought of a world without the Americans.

The only real live hatred for America that I have experienced (besides right here at home) is in the Islamic Middle East, and the horn of Africa. And everybody already knows what that is all about.

rooeytoo's avatar

Great phrase @josie, grudging respect, not always vocalized is the way I see it as well. As usual though, the minority, the vocal minority are the ones we hear.

In Australia they have what they call the Tall Poppy Syndrome. It means anyone who excells above the mediocre majority is targeted. I see it all the time, my mother would have called it jealousy and envy. When I hear aussies badmouthing, I tell them being a little country on the other side with very little impact on the rest of the world has its advantages!

Where does everyone come when they want aid of any sort? USA of course. So I guess we just have to remember, sticks and stones, etc. and get on with business.

Blondesjon's avatar

When you’re on top a lot of folks want to knock you down.

Mr_Paradox's avatar

The reasons that people hate the US is long and complicated list. You can’t really boil it down very well. However I will try. Muslims hate us because a few power hungry individuals made them believe that the US was attacking Islam (like Europe during the Crusades) and they instituted a defensive jihad. The reason many African countries hate us is because the warlords that control the governments hate us for trying to bring them down. Iran hates us for religious, economic, and political reasons. Other countries just hate the US on reasons of principal.

ETpro's avatar

@josie There’s a lot of anti American sentiment in Central America, South America, Russia and the former Soviet Block nations and parts of Asia as well. Mostly places off the beaten track that Americans who have traveled extensively would be likely to have visited.

bkcunningham's avatar

Just take Central America from your statement, “There’s a lot of anti American sentiment in Central America….”, @ETpro. Central America is made up of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. Is or are there a particular country or countries out of this group where you’ve seen or heard a lot of anti American sentiment? I’ve traveled extensively in about five of those countries and haven’t seen it and I have several friends from three of the countries and they aren’t aware of a lot of anti American sentiment either. Can you pinpoint it a little more preciously as to what you’ve seen and where you’ve seen it in Centreal America.

Mr_Paradox's avatar

@ETpro has a point about Central America, we did support a brutal regime in Nicaragua during the cold war.

bookish1's avatar

@Mr_Paradox : Don’t forget Chile, Guatemala, I am probably ignorant of other places. Better dead than ‘red’, ya know…

El_Cadejo's avatar

@bkcunningham I lived in Belize for a while and never had any animosity toward me for being an American but a great many people I met were very unhappy with the country. Guatemala on the other hand I met a lot of people with anti american sentiments and a few that either just gave me dirty looks or flat out insulted me fore being an American.

bkcunningham's avatar

Why were they unhappy with the country, @uberbatman? It just astounds me that, just taking the Central America example, there are some 2.9 million immigrants in the US from Central America alone and they don’t like the country. Does that sound like a population that expresses “a lot of anti American sentiments”?

El_Cadejo's avatar

@bkcunningham Most Belizeans seemed very upset with the US because in one sense they act to be an ally of the country but at the same time constantly support Guatemala in it’s border issues with Belize since the US stands to gain more with Guat as an ally over Belize. Guatemala claims Belize isn’t a legitimate country and all that land is actually theirs due to the treaty of tordesillas. The US has also pushed quite hard for rights to drill on Belize’s reefs for oil(something almost every Belizean I met was very much against). There are plenty of cases of US organizations coming into Belize and paying off the gov to build various structures or develop lands that otherwise would be off limits. (I realize this isn’t the US gov but the people still perceive this as issues with the US) The US has pushed their will on Belize’s government and laws in more way than one.

I honestly didn’t spend enough time in Guatemala or know enough about their history to know their issues with the US but my guess would be interfering with their affairs as we seem to do everywhere else in the world.

As for your other bit about immigrants people don’t need to like a country to go there. Many people saw it as a place to make money to send back to their family and that was it. They hated it while they were there but did it to better their families life back home.

ETpro's avatar

Thanks, @Mr_Paradox, @bookish1 & @uberbatman. Any other questions, @bkcunningham?

bkcunningham's avatar

Thank you, @uberbatman for sharing your knowledge and for the conversation. Isn’t it odd that oil would be an issue when it wasn’t even discovered in Belize until 2005? The Belize Petroleum Trust, which btw was just struck down as null by the Belize Supreme Court, was fully supported by the people who put the United Democratic Party into office.

I understand the issues with Guatemala. I appreciate your opinion on the immigrants in the US, too. It is interesting. Those I know love it here. They have made strong bonds and many have worked to bring their families here to gain citizenship. I’ve known people in Central America who traveled and worked in southern Mexico, Chile and Argentina and hated it there because they were away from their families and home. They faithfully sent their money home. I wouldn’t say that there was anti-Chilean sentiments because of their experience though.

I agree with @josie. I think it has become fashionable for Americans to criticize America and to be swept up in the Progressive cry of anti colonialism.

I always have questions, @ETpro. That’s why you love me. ~

mattbrowne's avatar

Not the US was despised, but Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the other retards who called the French and Germans wimps for not joining the Iraq war in 2003. Either you are with us or against us. There is Old and New Europe. There was an outcry over here that very few Americans are aware of. Obama undid most of the damage.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@bkcunningham I agree oil is a more recent thing but I was down there in 2012 so that was one of the biggest things people were talking about. I recently read about the Belize Supreme Court nullifying those deals. It made me extremely happy and proud for the Belize court system to stand up to some of the corruption in their country

Blondesjon's avatar

christ! you all act like you’ve never played a game risk.

ETpro's avatar

@bkcunningham However much grief I give you, always know that I do love you. You are a never-ending fountain of information, something I crave.

gorillapaws's avatar

@WestRiverrat You mean the same president who protected big pharma profts at the expense of African lives and squandered millions of taxpayer dollars funding evangelical Christian groups that preached abstinence-only education that has been proven ineffective?

Fox news isn’t journalism, it’s not news, it’s propaganda. A fucking idiot could have saved more lives with $15 billion in taxpayer dollars.

gorillapaws's avatar

@WestRiverrat They are better sources (and notice how much more balanced the articles were).

From what I can tell the biggest criticism is that Obama hasn’t increased the funding his AIDS initiative (although he was praised for spending the money more wisely). So you think the guy who borrowed 15 billion dollars to give billions of it to “big pharma” campaign contributors, blocked the money from going to generic drugs (despite their availability and ability to save many more lives), and squandered much of it on religious-based abstinence-only education which was a total failure, crashed the economy through moronic fiscal policy leaving his successor with unprecedented debt, and on a trajectory for total economic meltdown, is somehow a better guy than the one who managed to spend what funds were available in the most efficient manner possible? Borrowing and squandering is easy, spending efficiently is much more praiseworthy. I’m certain that if Obama had the good fortune to inherit the same economy, and budget surplus that Bush did, he would easily been able to help more Africans.

Do you really think we should be borrowing tens of billions to fund AIDS treatment in Africa? Maybe be should, but you can’t tell me with a straight face, that if Obama proposed to spend what Bush did in this economy (If it had never been a Republican plan in the first place), he wouldn’t be getting lambasted by the right for being fiscally irresponsible, but IOIYAR.

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