Re: Antiamericanism

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Thu Sep 13 2001 - 06:47:33 MDT

On Thu, Sep 13, 2001 at 04:10:45AM -0700, Samantha Atkins wrote:
> The way to get rid of terrorism against us is to make the
> repurcussions of attacking us so very, very undesirable that no
> remotely sane group would attempt such a thing and no remotely
> sane government would harbor or aid those who attempt such a
> thing.

I would say the repercussions are already on that level. The problem is
not the sane terrorists, it is the insane ones. No threat whatsoever can
discourage them. Getting the marginally more sane governments to help
stop them partially helps, but again the effects of strong threats is
also the production of strong resistance, which will come back and haunt
you later.

It is worth thinking of game theory here: you need a strategy that
promotes trust and cooperation, while discourages defection.

> There is no way a free, individual rights afffirming, secular
> government could help but piss off those countries and inviduals
> of very different mindset. Our very existence pisses them off.
> There is no way to appease such. We can only make clear that
> when they attack us we will respond as to an act of war.

I have heard the term "act of war" bandied around so much the last days
that I fully expect that it will now lose any meaning except outside
legal circles.

The old terminology of conflict needs new words to deal with "war"
between nations, groups and individuals. It is not just for nations

> > There is another reason for such attacks on the US, and that is
> > antiamericanism. It might appear absurd to many on this list, but there
> > are plenty of people who are deeply suspicious and prejudiced against
> > the US worldwide - including highly educated intellectuals. Just think
> > about how attacks on McDonald's in Europe has been framed not as attacks
> > on a local franchise, but attempts to stop American cultural
> > imperialism. Part of this is remaining cold war rhethoric that has
> > spread far beyond the left, a bit like sticky tar that sticks to
> > whatever is touching it and hence spreads everywhere. Part of it is of
> > course envy. Another part is the western sympathy for David versus
> > Goliath - the underdog is always the hero, the giant is never the hero:
> > since the US is a giant, it can't be good. All these things combine to
> > make prejudices against americans acceptable like no other prejudices
> > and biases the media - which reinforces the antiamericanism.
> >
> > In many ways the fact that the US has become very rich and powerful by
> > being a beacon of freedom is the reason so many feel it acceptable to
> > attack it. That US foreign policy also gives them ample reason is simply
> > the igniting spark that ignites the fuel that is already there.
> In short we are largely hate for our good before we are hated
> for any actual evil we have, may have or will commit.

In a way, yes. The US gets distrusted because of its power, and every
single move that can be criticised or viewed as evil will be used to
support the anti-american view. So before you rush off to decisively
retailiate against an enemy, think of the long term effects.
Discouraging future attacks should be the main goal, and this depends on
1) how discouraged people get by seeing what happens to attackers, and
2) how angry people get by seeing what the US does. There is a balance
to strike here.

The way to deal with the general problem is of course to deal with the
root cause. We need to make people see the good aspects of the US - by
promoting open societies, by allowing other countries to participate in
trade, open borders and so on. To a large extent this is what has worked
well for the US, but it is important to make people in general see this,
and avoid closing down trade, borders and societies out of fear of

There will always be opponents, rational or not, but when whole
societies embrace openness they will have a harder time getting help,
hiding and gaining converts. No amount of military intervention can
ever achieve that to the same extent. At least not without turning the
US into exactly what people fear it might be.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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