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Restoring America's Persuasiveness

Friday, Nov. 7, 2008

To hear some people tell the story, anti-Americanism will end now that Barack Obama has been elected president, bringing with him a traditional American respect for foreign cultures, international law, and multilateral diplomacy. The Bush legacy will fade from view, and Americans will once again be beloved around the globe, especially in Arab countries.

The world, however, is not so simple. Anti-American riots first filled the streets of foreign nations more than a century ago, as the United States became a global power. They continued through the Cold War and beyond. Anti-American terrorism is not new, either. While some argue that the Arab-Israeli conflict is a major motivator for al-Qaida, some of al-Qaida's first actions against the United States -- the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar al-Salaam -- came at a time when the United States was relatively engaged in Arab-Israeli peacemaking. The facts are clear: Anti-Americanism long pre-dated the Bush Administration, and it will long survive it. ...

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