A friend of mine wrote on anti-Americanism. My reply:
People will be violently anti-American no matter what policy America has. There is no such thing as a universally loved super-power. For example, there were riots in the streets of Europe in protest of American intervention in Kosovo to prevent the ethnic cleansing happening there. On the other hand, America was condemned for NOT intervening in Rwanda to prevent the genocide of the early 1990’s. Separately, America was renounced for supporting dictators and despots like Saddam Hussein, then we’re roundly and loudly criticized for doing something about him. At the same time, we’re blamed for the situation in the North Korea and we’re expected to police the world’s nuclear arms trade (i.e. Iran).
Afghanistan is a poignant example. If there was ever a case of a brutal regime of despots oppressing its people, it would be Afghanistan under the Taliban. Those were bad guys. What’s more, America had cause to declare war on the Taliban by any standards of War. That government aided and abetted in the murder of thousands of American citizens in what constituted an act of war against the United States. Yet, there were demonstrations again against American action. We inadvertently bombed civilians see, that was wrong. Never mind American citizens were murdered in cold blood. Because we’re America and for no other reason, there’s a moral equivalence drawn between murder and what can at most be called involuntary manslaughter.
In some sense, Japan has the same position in Asia as America has in the world. It’s certainly the biggest economic powerhouse in the region. In the same way, Japan will be disliked by its neighbors no matter what Japan’s policies may be. Think about the most recent controversy in China over Japan’s text books. Text books. I mean really, how inane.
I think Japan and America each have enormous responsibilities in regards to the rest of the world. Morally, we need to help the less fortunate. Politically, we need to be on the side of the oppressed and economically we need to help people onto the path of economic growth. Along the way, we will be criticized and we have to be mindful to do the right thing, but we shouldn’t be embarrassed by our position and power. As long as we use them for good, we’ll do alright.