After the 9/11 attack on the United States, the brief moment of sympathy for America soon began giving way to blame. In France and other quarters of Europe, and elsewhere in the world, it was said that the Americans had brought this violence upon themselves. The U.S. was a “cowboy” nation unwilling to abide by the will of the United Nations and other multilateral institutions, and bent on pursuing its objectives at any cost. It was the “hyperpower” whose corporations manipulated world markets and whose riches are acquired at the price of Third World impoverishment. No wonder it had been attacked!
Angered by the assault against a nation he knows and admires, the distinguished French intellectual Jean-Francois Revel has come to America’s defense in Anti-Americanism, a biting and erudite book that (paradoxically, given his country’s specially vehement attacks on the U.S. and its policies) spent several weeks late last year on top of France’s best-seller list.
Revel believes that what he calls the “anti-American obsession” is based on a willful disregard of the most obvious facts of American political and social life, its economic freedom and democratic traditions. He sees much anti-Americanism simply as anti-capitalism in disguise on the part of those—in Europe and the rest of the world—who are still committed to doctrines that are at heart illiberal and even totalitarian. In probing the origins of the notion that America is the source of all evil—imperialistic, greedy and ruthlessly competitive—he shows how these charges ultimately stem from weakness and envy on the part of those who make them and are a neurotic effort to find an easy explanation for Europe’s own loss of status in the postwar era. As far as America’s “unilateralism” is concerned, Revel asserts that the U.S. is forced to act alone because Europe has repeatedly failed repeatedly to act in the cause of collective security. As far as America’s sins of “globalization” are concerned, Revel shows that the developing countries of the world want more, not less access to rich markets and corporate investment.
Jean-Francois Revel explores the strengths of America and exposes the agendas of the anti-Americans in his own country, in Europe and around the world. At a time when it seems that much of the world is marching against America, Revel’s clearheaded analysis of the protestors’ motives shows what they’re really marching for and what the world will lose if their anti-Americanism should ever take hold.