Times of London Columnist: "Eventually, We Will All Hate Obama Too"
David Aaronovitch writes in The Times of London:
It amuses me that some of those who criticise the present US Administration for its Manichaeism - its division of the world into good and evil - themselves allocate all past badness to Bush and all prospective goodness to Obama. As the ever-improving myth has it, on the morning of September 12, 2001, George W. and America enjoyed the sympathy of the world. This comradeship was destroyed, in a uniquely cavalier (or should we say cowboyish) fashion, through the belligerence, the carelessness, the ideological fixity and the rapacity of that amorphous and useful category of American flawed thinker, the neoconservative. They just threw it away.(emphasis added)
This week you could hear the author Andrew O'Hagan on Radio 4, reading from his collection of self-conscious essays, The Atlantic Ocean, in which - despite his own claims - every impact of American life on Britain is somehow configured negatively. He writes of an exported popular culture “born in the suburbs of America” and defined as “Spite as entertainment. Shouting as argument. Dysfunction as normality. Desires as rights. Shopping as democracy.” This in the country that has sent Big Brother, Pop Idol, Wife Swap and Location, Location, Location over the Atlantic in the other direction, while taking delivery of Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Wire.
I should admit that I am irked by O'Hagan's dismissal of the “idiots who supported that bad and stupid war (ie, Iraq)” and am willing to match my idiocy against his intelligence in any debating forum that he cares to name. More interesting, though, is the desire to blame America. For all that O'Hagan claims that the US has lost its purchase on the world's affections, it remains the chosen destination for the most ambitious of the planet's migrants. For all that he claims that this change in sentiment is recent, I can't help recalling those - the most honest - who commented, in journals he writes for and on the very day after September 11, that the Americans had had it coming.
In part I think that anti-Americanism is linked to a view of change as decline. The imagination is that dynamic capitalism, associated with the US, is destroying our authentic lives, with our own partly willing connivance. It is a continuing and - at the moment - constant narrative, uniting left and right conservatives, which will usually take in the 19th- century radical journalist William Cobbett (conveniently shorn of his anti-Semitism), and end with an expression of disgust over the Dome, the Olympics or Tesco. Just as bird flu is a disease from out of the East, runaway modernity is a scourge originating to the West.
So Barack Obama, en fête around the world, will one day learn that there is no magical cure for the envy of others. What makes America the indispensable power (and even more indispensable in the era of the new China), is precisely what makes anti-Americanism inevitable.
Of course, with a name like "David Aaronovitch", he MUST be a "neocon" himself.