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Russia’s war reverses anti-Americanism in Europe

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Welcome back.In a quiet whisper, Europe, historically the cradle of anti-Americanism, has seen a more positive attitude towards the United States among politicians and the general public. Is it just a trend or will it continue? tony.barber@ft.com.

Nearly five years ago, during the presidency of President Donald Trump, the Brookings Institution published a commentary under the headline: They would risk doing so. “

Its author, James Kartik, wrote of “the decline of transatlantic relations”, fixed part of responsibility About the deviant, convention-breaking occupiers of the White House. “A seditious nationalist, Trump seems to confirm all the negative stereotypes Europeans have of Americans,” Kartik claimed.

His reference to stereotypes touched on a key feature of European anti-Americanism. In many cases, it is not about the particular policies of the U.S. government of our time, but rather about the pile of negative images and impressions of American national character that have been built up since at least his nineteenth century. of life.

In other words, who can be in the White House can change, but certain deeper-rooted feelings about the United States are likely to persist. This is because it defines and sometimes contrasts with that of the United States.

That said, Joe Biden’s arrival at the White House has arguably healed much of the damage from the Trump era, but not all. U.S.-European friction The Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act includes huge subsidies for US-based green technology projects.

shared values

It was Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago that really improved Europe’s perception of the United States. One poll after another comes to the same conclusion. Europeans have an affinity for the United States, and their views of Russia (and China to a lesser extent) are sharply negative. Much of this shift in opinion stems from a growing sense that Europe and the United States do in fact share common values ​​such as political pluralism and individual liberty, so much of this shift is likely to persist. looks like it might.

took this report, created by the Bennett Institute for Public Policy at the University of Cambridge, UK. Using data gathered from his 137 countries, including his 75 countries surveyed since the Kremlin invasion, the researchers say:

In the global South, Russia and China overtook, but the relative favorability of the US soared to new highs. Each series aggregated using population weights. Excluded “self-reactions” (e.g. excluding China from measuring global attitudes toward China) © Bennett Institute of Public Policy, University of Cambridge

They add that over the past decade, positive public attitudes towards Russia in once sympathetic countries have plummeted: Greece (down from 69% to 30%), Hungary (45% to 25%). , Italy (14%) cents from 38%).

Meanwhile, positive views of Russia and China prevail in many non-Western countries such as Malaysia, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, researchers say. the chart above suggests.

“Democratic societies are far more negative towards Russia and China, whereas authoritarian societies are the opposite. says Xavier Romero-Vidal, one of the authors of

Right-wing populists in Russia and Europe

A similar observation is This analysis For the European political blog of the London School of Economics. Based on data from the European Social Survey, one of the most authoritative indicators of public opinion in Europe, Margarita Klimac and Tim Vrandas argue that the Russian war strengthened European support for democracy and freedom, and that politicians and political parties He also said that it has increased his confidence in

Meanwhile, the European Commission’s Public Opinion Monitoring Unit US involvement in Europe’s defense is growing Since the beginning of the Ukrainian war. About 72% of Europeans want the US to be somewhat or very involved, and only 19% want the US not to intervene. The biggest increases in support are in Sweden (up from 45% in 2021 to 72%), Hungary (up from 60% to 71%) and the Netherlands (up from 66% to 75%).

Even among Europeans who vote for right-wing populists who have been ardently pro-Moscow during Vladimir Putin’s 23-year reign, positive views of Russia have declined. this survey By Pew Research Center.

Bar chart of percentage of people with favorable opinion of Russia shows falling support for Russia among right-wing populists in Europe

Oddball in Central Europe

Of course, this does not mean that anti-Americanism in Europe has completely disappeared.Columnist Tanit Koch takes Germany’s temperature I wrote in The New European in October “Anti-Americanism extends to middle-class liberal conservatives . As we wanted, we have to buy their gas, and they can sell their weapons.

From 2015 to 2020, the UK’s opposition Labor Party was led by radical leftist Jeremy Corbyn. British historian Jeremy Black once wrote:: “He has never seen an anti-American movement that he does not want to embrace.” Not gone with the left wing.

In Central Europe, some animosity towards the United States persists among leaders such as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Croatian President Zoran Milanovic and former Czech President Milos Zeman. But it should be noted that Czech voters elected last month Zeman’s successor is retired NATO commander Petr Pavel.

Origins of anti-Americanism in Europe

of America’s enemya groundbreaking study of French anti-Americanism published in 2002 (and translate to english French historian Philippe Roger explained that the phenomenon did not begin in the 1930s with the Vietnam War, but in the 1930s.

Rather, its foundations were laid over 200 years ago in “the Enlightenment’s strange hostility to the New World.” It was popularized in the 19th century when Parisian intellectuals portrayed French civilization as a universal ideal at odds with American popular democracy and greedy, dehumanizing capitalism.

Across Europe, anti-Americanism has turned into a cultural critique of modernity — rampant industrialization, corporate power, urbanization, the atomization of market-driven societies.

Such an attitude leaves its mark. In a 2015 study, Colin Lawson and John Hudson Sifted EU Eurobarometer data Concerning public opinion, he concluded: . . strongly suggests that the root cause of anti-American attitudes is anti-capitalism. “

This is the result of today’s harsh criticisms by many Europeans of aspects of life in the United States, such as lax gun control, partial application of the death penalty, Supreme Court opposition to abortion rights, and unequal access to health care. associated with criticism.

Yet the Russian War and the collective US-led Western response seem to have drawn Americans and Europeans closer together. But what if the candidate leans toward Trump’s approach to world affairs?

More on this topic

Fireproofing of US-Europe relations — Bruce Stokes commentary for the Washington-based Roll Call website

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