On the significance of anti-Americanism in Eastern Europe

Fareed Zakaria has this to say about the rest of the world these days:

“[I]n recent elections in Brazil, Germany, Pakistan, Kuwait, and Spain, the United States became a campaign issue. In all these places, resisting U.S. power won votes. Nationalism in many countries is being defined in part as anti-Americanism: Can you stand up to the superpower?”

I think that anti-Americanism is in fact plural. French anti-Americanism sounds more a judgment on culture and civilization, a lament of a telos lost, whereas those of others such as Latin Americans appear much more a criticism of policies, unadorned and unframed by grand evaluations of the prospects for world-history. Similarly, the role anti-Americanism plays in European nationalisms (and whatever embryonic European supra-nationalism exists) is very different from the one it plays in say Latin American nationalisms. In the former, I personally hear echoes of resentiment, even when I agree with Europe. Only Germany and the Netherlands have majorities which are opposed to increasing defense expenditure in order to become a military superpower. It’s this sort of stuff that makes European anti-Americanism irritating.

But there are greater worrisome trends. Eastern Europe has generally not embraced anti-American sentiment. Instead, it had been a bastion of support for the United States. And given their own experiences of occupation and subjugation, they were largely enthusiastic about the invasion of Iraq, seeing in it a wish that the US had done likewise and overthrown Eastern European dictatorships in earlier decades. But that appears to have changed as this survey taken by the German Marshall Fund and the Compagnia di San Paolo suggests. (Via politicaltheory.info.) Taking a close look at the details of the findings, one is surprised to find that Poland, once the most pro-American of European states, is now least supportive of having troops in Afghanistan. Poles are also the most likely to believe that European should spend more on their militaries in order to “protect” their interests separately from the United States. All of this is a mere 2 years.