ANTI-AMERICANISM IN THE THIRD WORLD:
Implications for U.S. Foreign Policy
Edited by Alvin Z. Rubinstein and Donald E. Smith PRAEGER
(New York 1985)
Perception, Preference, and Policy:
An Afro-Arab Perspective of Anti-Americanism
Mohammad Beshir Hamid
The evil in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do
as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding. On the whole, men are more good
than bad; that, however, isn’t the real point. But they are more or less ignorant and it is
that we call vice or virtue; the most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance which
fancies it knows everything and therefore claims for itself the right to kill…
Albert Camus, Le Peste (1947)
Anti-Americanism, as such, is not a new phenomenon. Nor is it one originating in, or confined to, Third World countries. Consider the following expressions: “Degraded thinking, lying deception and unlimited greed are the natural and inescapable consequences of the commercial spirit, a spirit that like a tidal wave inundates the highest and lowest elements of American society”. “In this [American] society composed of a mixture of all peoples, freedom is purely materialistic and lacking in all idealism”. “Just read the newspapers of opposing parties during a presidential campaign, and rest assured, you would believe the candidate for this highest honor in the United States deserved life-imprisonment sooner than residence in the White House”. “Cheating is an old American custom”.
For going over the preliminary draft of this paper and for their valuable advice and comments, I am grateful to Professor L. Carl Brown, Director of the Program in Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.; to Professor Richard P. Stevens of the Center (or Contemporary Arab Studies. Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.; to Professor Alvin Z. Rubinstein of the Department of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa.; and to Professors Richard and Carolyn Lobban of the Department of Anthropology and African Studies, Rhode Island College, Providence R. l. Needless to say, I am solely responsible for the perspective and the shortcomings.