In the 1920s, Japanese managers turned to the principles of Frederick Winslow Taylor, the American efficiency expert, to make their factories more productive. In 1950, they looked to W. Edwards Deming, an American engineer, who taught them the importance of quality control. In November 2005, another American, Bobby Valentine, former manager of the New York Mets baseball team, led the Chiba Lotte Marines to their first victory in thirty-one years in the Japan Series—the Japanese equivalent of the U.S. “World Series.” Astonishingly, he did this by reversing the traditional harsh treatment of employees on teams and in businesses throughout Japan—using a kinder, gentler American touch. His success has led Hiroshi Miyata, president of Nippon Metal Industry, to call upon corporate Japan to “start treating our employees in the same way that Bobby does”1 —another demonstration of the appeal of the American Way.
Asia is a region with an enormous diversity of cultures and political systems, as well as historical and geographic differences. Generalizations about attitudes toward the United States and Americans are of necessity fragile. Nonetheless, an overarching pattern does emerge: of peoples who find much in American life to admire and to emulate; of peoples greatly troubled by the role the United States has played on the world stage.
The study of anti-Americanism has thrived in recent years and is clearly of much greater interest since the events of September 11, 2001.2 Little has been written about favorable attitudes toward the United States—which, of course, do exist—although Joseph Nye's books and articles on the attractions of “soft power” might qualify.3 There seem to be few equivalents of Alexis de Tocqueville and James Bryce around to extol the virtues of American democracy. Much of the literature is exculpatory, suggesting, as does Paul Hollander, that to be anti-American is to be, by definition, irrational. Indeed, Hollander perceives anti-Americanism to be comparable to racism, sexism, and antisemitism.4 Much of what has been published since 9/11 is manifestly part of the culture war in the United States, concerned largely with alleged anti-Americanism at home and reminiscent of the days of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).
The debate has focused on the question of whether foreigners hate Americans because of who they are—rich, powerful, the epitome of modernity—or because of the pervasive role the United States plays on the international stage. We argue that the dichotomy is false. Certainly in Asia—the area we know best—most attitudes toward the United States have been formed by the impact of American foreign policies. But they have also been shaped by Asian perceptions of who we are. Asians have frequently admired our principles while lamenting our inability to live up to our own standards. Qualities of racism and arrogance, ignorance and hypocrisy, which are not part of the self-image of Americans, have nevertheless been influential in molding our image in Asia. Americans who find anti-Americanism incomprehensible appear to be afflicted by moral opacity.
The development of Asian attitudes can be studied best in three phases: first, the years before the Cold War, when for most Asians, Americans were far away; second, the Cold War era, when the American model competed with a rival communist system; and third, the years after the Cold War, especially those following 9/11.
Prior to the emergence of the Cold War in the mid-1940s, no systematic analyses of Asian opinion of the United States existed. Scientific polling began to evolve only in the 1930s, and it remains rudimentary in some parts of Asia even today. Nevertheless, the writings of intellectual and political elites reveal Asian perceptions of the United States and the American people. It is, therefore, possible to discern, as Akira Iriye did in his magnificent pioneering work Across the Pacific, positive and negative responses to what Americans did and how some Asians viewed them.5
Although the Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans encountered Americans earlier, Filipinos had the first intensive contact with the United States when Americans came to “liberate” them from Spain in 1898. Any joy that Filipinos might have felt at the departure of their Spanish colonial masters quickly gave way to dismay when they realized that the Americans had come to stay—which they did for the better part of five decades. U.S. forces brutally suppressed the Filipino fight for independence, during which the historian Michael Hunt estimates that as many as 800,000 Filipinos died, killed in action or lost to war-related disease and famine.6
The colonization of the Philippines demonstrated American racism and hypocrisy. Americans viewed the Filipinos as uncivilized, sly, and slothful, engaged in an “insane attack” on U.S. forces. American troops called them “gu-gus” and lumped them with Native Americans and African Americans as inferior beings, to be tortured and killed without remorse. Filipino insurgents used leaflets to appeal “To the Colored American Soldiers” decrying prejudice, but could not secure mass desertions.7
The Chinese and Japanese meanwhile struggled against the growing racism behind the Oriental Exclusion Acts passed by Congress in the nineteenth century. The earliest authors to portray the United States to Chinese readers, Wei Yuan and Hsu Chi-yu, described a country that to Hsu seemed almost a utopia. Chinese came to the United States in the nineteenth century attracted by its prosperity and initially encouraged by the country's quest for cheap labor. But they increasingly found that Americans would neither be their champions against other imperialists nor provide them with safe homes and jobs in the U.S. In 1905, angered by discriminatory immigration rules and by repeated violent incidents against Chinese across several western states, Chinese students organized a boycott of American goods. One way they whipped up anti-American anger was by staging a play based on Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin in which they equated the plight of Chinese in the United States with that of black slaves under the lash of the brutal Simon Legree. Stowe's Chinese translator had stressed the comparison in his preface and afterword, pointing in particular to the humiliation by immigration authorities of Chinese who had entered the country legally.8
The Japanese experienced similar American racism, although U.S. authorities, especially Theodore Roosevelt, recognized Japan's successful modernization and military power and took steps to mitigate the mistreatment of Japanese in the United States.9 Roosevelt even sought to mediate a settlement of the 1904–1905 Russo-Japanese War, providing for terms largely favorable to Tokyo. Roosevelt won the Nobel Peace Prize, but Japanese citizens rioted, holding the U.S. responsible for Japan's failure to achieve its maximum goals. Less worried about Japan's power, President Woodrow Wilson rejected the country's demand for a clause on racial equality in the Covenant of the League of Nations, and in 1924, Congress gratuitously offended Tokyo when it drafted a new immigration law. The National Origins Act set quotas on the numbers of citizens of each country who would be allowed to enter the United States, including just 246 Japanese immigrants a year and 75,000 from Great Britain. Angered by subsequent pleas for greater equity from the president, the secretary of state, and especially the Japanese ambassador, Congress eliminated Japan's quota entirely.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, much of Asia languished under colonial rule. Americans perceived themselves as anti-imperialist and urged Asian peoples to differentiate them from Europeans, who ostensibly placed less value on liberty and self-determination. Japanese and European imperialism in East Asia allowed Koreans and Vietnamese—and even some Japanese—to view the United States as offering an alternative model. American missionaries provided support for Korean nationalists, a handful of whom established a military training camp in Nebraska. Vietnamese intellectuals, including Ho Chi Minh, admired Americans as the people who had won their independence from the world's most powerful empire, established a democratic society, and supported self-determination. Anti-imperialists in Japan, despairing of Meiji determination to emulate European empire-building, imagined that the United States would be different.10 All were disappointed by the actual policies of a succession of American governments that joined ranks with the imperialists. Washington acquiesced in Japanese imperialism in Korea, paid little heed to the French role in Indochina, and built its own empire across the Pacific.
The Chinese were crushed by similar American hypocrisy. John Hay's celebrated “Open Door Notes,” issued at the close of the nineteenth century, did nothing to halt foreign inroads on Chinese sovereignty, merely allowing Americans to perceive their country as China's defender. Having thrilled to Woodrow Wilson's call for national self-determination and his opposition to Japan's efforts to turn China into a satellite, the Chinese were profoundly disillusioned by the failure of the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and the Washington Conference (1921–1922) to restore their control over Shandong province. In 1919, anger at the Treaty of Versailles led to demonstrations in China that evolved into the famous May Fourth Movement—a tremendous stimulus to Chinese nationalism. In his first recorded criticism of the United States, a youthful Mao Zedong attacked Wilson's failure. In 1922, Chinese students in the United States voiced their protest in demonstrations in Washington. They admired the principles in which Americans professed to believe, but found it increasingly evident that the hope they had vested in the United States was ill-founded.11
Thus, in the early 1920s, some Chinese political leaders and intellectuals turned instead to Moscow. Sun Yat-sen, whose political testament The Three People's Principles rested heavily on the writings of the American economist Henry George, looked to Soviet agents to reorganize his Kuomintang (KMT) along the lines of the Soviet Communist Party. In addition, an indigenous Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was formed. Together they were determined to end imperialism in China—as well as subdue regional warlords who stood between them and the unification of the country. Eager to throw all imperialists out, the KMT-CCP alliance made few distinctions among them. After the two parties split and after the KMT established a national government in Nanjing in 1928, the Chinese Communists, nudged by the Comintern, condemned the ostensibly benign Americans, labeling them the most dangerous of the imperialists, “one hundred times worse than England or Japan.” Moscow declared American policy toward China to be “a liberal hypocrisy designed to cover up imperialist aggression,” a clear precursor of the kind of anti-American sentiment the Soviets would promote during the Cold War.12 That propaganda fell on fertile ground because it was consistent with Asian experience, however much it ran counter to the principles for which most Americans believed that their country stood.
There remained prominent reformers such as China's Kang Youwei, Liang Qichao, and Hu Shi who accepted the United States, warts and all, and persisted in looking to the U.S. as a model for the modernization of their own countries. Kang wrote that “of all the countries on earth, none is as prosperous and contented as the United States of America.” Peking University brought Hu Shi's idol, American philosopher John Dewey, to China to lecture on pragmatism to enthusiastic audiences across the country. Cai Yuanpei, the leading educator of his time, introduced Dewey as a “greater thinker than Confucius.” And beginning in the 1920s, Chinese increasingly adopted American ideas about higher education. By the 1940s, 15 to 20 percent of all Chinese college students were enrolled in institutions founded by American missionaries (although it should be noted that the great writer Lu Xun denounced American-educated Chinese as “foreign slaves”).13
Asians, particularly Japanese, were attracted to many other elements of American culture in the era between the world wars. They perceived American society to be more dynamic and freer than European societies. Historian Carol Gluck has pointed to the admiration some Japanese intellectuals had for the vitality of life in the United States early in the twentieth century. Imitating American-style democracy could solve the problem of underemployment of educated Japanese, one argued, if, as in the U.S., a university graduate in Japan could drive a taxi without shame. Those who admired the egalitarianism of American life, including the Japanese writer Nagai Kafu, remarked upon the independence of American women, who could be a man's social and intellectual equal without losing their femininity. Japanese intellectuals brought out versions of the Saturday Evening Post and the Harvard Classics, creating a mass culture that historian Miriam Silverberg argues “recoded” American institutions and practices for local consumption.14
American jazz excited young people in the cities of East Asia—in Tokyo, Peking, and Shanghai. The Japanese studied American poetry and admired Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Guo Moruo, who was to become a Chinese Communist cultural icon, discovered Whitman while a student in Japan. Many of his early poems reflect Whitman's influence. He wrote poetry in praise of George Washington before he shifted his admiration to Lenin, Stalin, and Mao. David Roy, a Guo biographer, contends that it was Whitman who radicalized Guo and facilitated his acceptance of Marxist-Leninism.15
No discussion of Asian attitudes toward the United States can ignore the Pacific war and the American role in it. Even as some intellectuals absorbed culture from the U.S., radical Japanese nationalists, alarmed by Japan's economic problems and angered by Washington's opposition to the 21 Demands and its exclusion policies, began to portray Americans as treacherous enemies. Sato Kojiro, a retired general, published If Japan and America Fight, one of many indictments of U.S. corruption and insolence, capping his story with an invasion of California and a victorious assault on New York. Through much of the 1930s and the ensuing war years, the Japanese government did all it could to whip up hatred of the United States as the nation most determined to deny Japan its place in the sun. Knowing that Japan did not have the power to defeat a fully mobilized U.S., Japanese leaders convinced themselves that lazy, hedonistic, and irresponsible Americans could be deterred from joining the war through a spectacular attack on Pearl Harbor. Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku, who initiated the Hawaii surprise, although a Harvard graduate, misread the Americans, thinking they could be made to “think of the Japanese as a crazed and reckless people against whom it would not pay to fight.”16 Thereafter, although many Japanese understood that the miseries inflicted on them could be attributed to their own leaders, Americans were killing their husbands, sons, and brothers. Americans preached race hatred, firebombed Tokyo, and dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.17 But even Prince Konoe Fumimaro, Japan's prime minister in 1941, upon committing suicide at the war's end left behind a passage from Oscar Wilde's prison memoir: “I must say to myself that I ruined myself, and that nobody great or small can be ruined except by his own hand.”18
Of course, the unleashing of American power against Japan endeared the United States to many Chinese and other victims of Japanese aggression. They perceived the Americans—the Flying Tigers, for example—as their champions. For them, the knowledge that the Yanks were coming was liberating.
In brief, all of the elements that would color Asian attitudes toward the United States during the Cold War appear to have surfaced much earlier. Widespread admiration for American economic success and for American professions of anti-imperialism existed already. American democracy and the freedoms it promised had enormous appeal to intellectuals living under oppressive regimes, colonial or home-grown. Only the oppressors themselves hated the U.S. for its principles and values. But informed Asians questioned whether Americans lived by those principles and values. How could one account for American imperialism as evidenced in the Philippines and prewar China? What had Americans done to further Wilson's call for self-determination? How could they speak proudly of their free and democratic society when they mistreated people of color?
Asian-American relations during the era of the Cold War differed markedly from those of the preceding hundred years or so as a result of two formidable new realities that characterized the region in the aftermath of World War II. On the one hand, communism emerged to dominate governments on the Chinese mainland, in North Korea, and in Indochina, as well as to threaten the security of fragile decolonizing or war-torn states. On the other hand, the U.S. had become a far more expansive presence, whether through its economic aid and trade, the dissemination of its values and cultural artifacts, the basing of its troops, or its insistence on recruiting allies and collaborators in the fight against communism. These changes reinforced images of the United States as a land of opportunity, freedom, and even altruism, but as Washington's priorities increasingly diverged from those of the people of Asia, images of Americans and their government became more negative.
At the conclusion of World War II, the United States unquestionably stood at the peak of its prestige in the region. It was clearly the most powerful nation in the world, and it had used that power to facilitate the liberation of hundreds of millions of Asians from an often brutal Japanese occupation. American opposition to imperialism, voiced frequently by its leaders, stirred hopes among subjects of the British, Dutch, and French empires that a Pax Americana would mean the end of colonialism. Even the Japanese, anticipating the worst from the victors, soon marveled at the generosity of their American occupiers. Although the firebombing of Tokyo and the atomic attacks triggered anti-Americanism, according to one of Japan's major newspapers, the Asahi Shimbun, “the level of anti-American sentiment has remained remarkably low.”19
Americans earned as much admiration from Asians for their professed commitment to liberty and democracy as for their wealth and power. The United States attracted millions of immigrants and hundreds of thousands of students from East and South Asia. A new openness appeared to exist when Congress repealed the Chinese Exclusion Acts in 1943 and followed that in 1946 with legislation to permit immigration and naturalization of Filipinos and Indians. In 1947, Asian war brides were permitted to accompany their American husbands home from overseas deployments. The McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 finally lifted racial barriers to citizenship and provided annual quotas for immigration by Asian ethnic groups.20 Those quotas, initially restrictive and minimal, were radically liberalized in 1965, and a flood of migrants began. America was the land of opportunity for them as it had been for Europeans in previous centuries. Its graduate schools, especially in science and technology, served as magnets for young Asians.
From the outset, of course, there were unfavorable views of Americans and their culture among Asian elites, as there had been prior to the Cold War era. In the period after World War II, greater exposure to Americans, who sometimes wielded more immediate influence in their societies, aggravated these resentments, as did the propaganda from Moscow and Beijing that sought to exploit them. Traditionalists in China and Japan, for instance, did not share values such as individualism and democracy. Japanese conservatives were appalled at the reforms that U.S. occupation authorities attempted to impose on their country, fearful that it would lose its national identity. In India, in particular, but in Indochina and Indonesia as well, the upper classes frequently had internalized the contempt that their colonial masters had shown for the alleged vulgarity of American culture. Socialists across Asia rejected the unrestrained, exploitative capitalism rampant in the United States. The violence and sexual license portrayed in Hollywood's motion pictures and subsequently in recycled television programs appalled some Asians, perhaps Muslims most of all.21 In the last years of the Cold War, militant Islamic groups emerged in Southeast Asia, expressing hostility toward the United States as the avatar of modernization and the champion of Israel.
Racism also remained a point of contention. As people of color, Asians had long been angered by their treatment at the hands of insensitive white Americans. After World War II, more Asians traveled and studied in America, experiencing discrimination firsthand, and many others heard tales told by friends or relatives. But mostly, reports of the violence in the U.S. that accompanied the struggle for racial integration in the 1950s and 1960s horrified Asians. These were among the bitterest years of the civil rights movement, and also the years in which American discriminatory practices became a major issue in the Cold War. Eleanor Roosevelt lamented after her travels in India, “we have against us their feeling that we, because our skins are white, necessarily look down upon all peoples whose skins are yellow or black or brown. This thought is never out of their minds [and] they always asked me pointedly … about our treatment of minorities in our country.”22
The Cold War itself determined attitudes toward the United States throughout Asia. Various Asian states found that American priorities shifted dramatically with the advent of the anticommunist crusade and that they had difficulty securing Washington's attention or sympathy for any issue unless it could be painted in Cold War colors. The one-dimensional focus of U.S. policymakers also left them open to manipulation by those whose goals might differ markedly, but whose ability to package their positions and intentions played to Washington's anticommunist obsession.
Whatever friction grew out of the enlarged U.S. presence in Asia quickly became ammunition for communist attacks on Washington. Anti-American propaganda emanating from Moscow had disappeared after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, only to begin anew in 1945 as the wartime alliance frayed—and U.S. tolerance of communist expansion in Eastern Europe and East Asia came into question. In China, most notably, the warm wartime relationship between Mao Zedong's communist regime in Yan'an and American observers, military and civilian, cooled rapidly in the months following Franklin Roosevelt's death. The Central Committee of the CCP interpreted the FBI's arrest of Jack Service, an American foreign service officer who had reported favorably on communist prospects in China, as evidence that reactionaries led by Harry Truman had gained control in Washington.23 In June 1946, convinced that the United States was committed to supporting his enemy, Chiang Kai-shek, in the newly declared civil war, Mao commenced a virulent anti-American campaign. The actions of U.S. forces in China, most infamously the rape of a Peking University student by two drunken Marines on Christmas Eve in 1946, contributed to the success of the campaign among Chinese students.24
A similarly incendiary issue in the aftermath of World War II was U.S. support for the reconstruction of Japan and the concomitant fear that the United States would condone remilitarization. Washington believed that the anticommunist alliance system required a vibrant Japan at its core, but hatred for Japan ran deep in China and Korea, fueling demands for punishment and reparations. Although the Chinese Communists stirred much of the anger in the late 1940s, anticommunist and noncommunist Chinese shared their distress over what all Chinese saw as a resurgent Japanese threat to their security. Few Chinese, moreover, could accept the use of American resources to help Japanese “war criminals” when scarce money and materiel ought to have been dedicated to the reconstruction of China.25 Similarly, in the mid-1960s, American pressure on Seoul to normalize relations with Tokyo led to massive anti-Japanese demonstrations that had clear undertones of anti-Americanism.
Japanese intellectuals and perhaps most Japanese welcomed the democratic reforms that the American occupiers began to impose on their country at the conclusion of World War II. After the terrible defeat their country had suffered in 1945, many Japanese concluded that pacifism was preferable to militarism and accepted restrictions against rearming imposed by the “peace constitution” written for them by Americans. Things went wrong as the Cold War evolved and Washington reversed course, restoring the influence of the very Japanese leaders who had subverted democracy in Japan in the 1930s. Japanese pacifists opposed the U.S.-sponsored resurrection of the Japanese military under the guise of “self-defense forces.” They knew that remnants of the Imperial Japanese Navy had participated in the Korean War, and they resented the persistent pressure to rearm that was emanating from Washington. Some feared that the Japanese-American treaty of alliance with which the occupation had ended would embroil Japan in a war with the communist powers. On the right, however, a small fringe of strident nationalists believed that the U.S. had not done enough or, as in the case of the famed novelist Mishima Yukio, that Japan had wrongly “entrusted her national defense to foreign hands,” prolonging the “shame of defeat.” Mishima's answer was to take his life through hara-kiri to shame the authorities.26 In brief, most Japanese welcomed American efforts to democratize and demilitarize their country, but some, perhaps many, were disillusioned when American policymakers concluded that strengthening Japan's ability to oppose communism was a higher priority.27
The American ideals of anti-imperialism and self-determination captured the attention and admiration of many Asian elites before and during World War II, rendering betrayal of those principles by the United States during the Cold War especially bitter. One Indonesian journalist wrote of listening to American wartime broadcasts extolling freedom, democracy, and self-determination, only to witness the return of Dutch troops in 1945 who were armed and outfitted by the United States.28 The Vietnamese, hoping that U.S. principles and wartime intelligence collaboration were meaningful, played “The Star-Spangled Banner” when, in September 1945, they proclaimed independence from France, and they used portions of the U.S. Declaration of Independence in their own short-lived declaration.29 Indian intellectuals, who could not dispute actual American support for their country's independence from Great Britain, insisted nonetheless that the United States had become the world's leading imperialist power, pointing to Washington's aid to Chiang in China, Syngman Rhee in Korea, and Bao Dai in Vietnam as evidence. Krishna Menon, the Indian ambassador to the United Nations, was second to none—not even communist delegates to the organization—in the vituperativeness of his attacks on the United States.
In 1946, the Filipinos were at last set free from the American empire, which would have been testimony to delayed, but real, U.S. anti-imperialism, except that their liberation proved incomplete. Their former colonial masters insisted on retaining bases and economic privileges. Filipinos perceived themselves as being bullied by the Americans who remained in their country, many of whom did not seem to understand that colonialism had ended. Over the next decade, the U.S. covertly engineered the rise of Ramon Magsaysay and helped him suppress the presumably communist Hukbalahap Rebellion. Edward Lansdale, who was the inspiration for William Burdick and Eugene Lederer's The Ugly American as well as Graham Greene's The Quiet American, used his CIA network to boost the Filipino's status. But whereas Magsaysay delighted in being Washington's proxy, many Filipino intellectuals imagined themselves engaged in a great struggle against American cultural imperialism.30
Some Chinese, especially those on the left, were also troubled by the evolution of American policy in the years immediately following the Japanese surrender. All sides initially welcomed General George C. Marshall's mission to prevent civil war in China. It quickly became apparent, however, that his impartiality did not reflect the position of his superiors in Washington, and that the United States was committed to supporting Chiang's forces even when they violated truces. As tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union increased, the Truman administration refused to facilitate a communist victory in China—even if it meant interfering in China's internal affairs to support a regime it considered corrupt and repressive. Continued American aid to Chiang prolonged the Chinese civil war of the late 1940s and further alienated politically alert Chinese, heightening their receptivity to communist propaganda.
Throughout Asia, the image of the United States as a country born in a revolt against imperialism, committed to self-determination and self-government for all peoples, gave way to the less attractive portrait of Americans as imperialists. The promise of liberty and freedom for all, so deeply ingrained in American society, was perceived by countless Asians as hypocrisy. Viewed from Asia, U.S. postwar policy consisted of support for European governments seeking to regain control of their colonies and intervention against uprisings in Korea, China, Indochina, and the Philippines on behalf of what appeared to be puppet regimes. Asian views of the United States, moreover, drew heavily upon direct contacts with Americans in the region, usually military personnel, and travel to the United States. Most striking is the overwhelming evidence that Americans were admired for their ideals—and despised for their failure to live by them.
Indeed, for much of the Cold War era, the U.S. government carefully monitored Asian as well as other foreign attitudes toward the United States, its policies, and the values of its people. The United States Information Agency (USIA), usually working with local polling organizations, constantly surveyed Asian opinion. Officials, notably President Dwight D. Eisenhower, expressed a specific interest in this data and asked to see it regularly.31 Polls invariably confirmed admiration for American values but demonstrated that the popularity of the United States fluctuated with events and the impact of U.S. policies on the country being surveyed. Indians, for example, indicated a very high opinion of the United States when the American government supported India during the 1962 Sino-Indian War, but slipped steadily afterward. Polls showed consistent dissatisfaction with U.S. arms sales to Pakistan and awareness that the Nixon administration had tilted toward Pakistan. Filipinos exhibited overwhelmingly favorable attitudes toward the United States, admiring its democracy, freedom, and prosperity, but mounted anti-American demonstrations when problems emerged over U.S. military forces or trade policy. Racism in the United States exerted a consistent downward drag.
Another important postwar development that quickly became the source of great hostility toward Washington was the establishment of long-term U.S. military bases in Asia. Although they provided essential security to unstable governments, their intrusiveness strained the patience even of those who welcomed the economic benefits. In addition to prewar facilities in the Philippines, outposts obtained after the conclusion of the war against Japan stayed in American hands because of both the Cold War and U.S. determination to dominate world politics and world trade. Resentment of the presence of foreign soldiers was widespread and intensified by the racist behavior of some American troops, who characterized the people they were protecting as “slopeys,” “dinks,” and “gooks.” Moreover, communities were affronted by the privileged positions of American soldiers, angered by the blighting of the countryside, and dismayed by the cultural insensitivity of the troops as well as the corruption and victimization of local populations. When U.S. forces fought in Korea and subsequently in Vietnam, they committed massacres and atrocities occasioned by contempt for Asians as a lesser people, as well as fear of “the other” and the inability to distinguish hostile guerrillas from civilians. Even in the Philippines, where they saw little if any action in the Cold War years, American soldiers were accused of bigotry in their contact with locals.
To cope with the friction between U.S. soldiers and the local population as well as provide for the rights of Asian peoples, legal arrangements known as status of forces agreements (SOFAs) had to be signed to govern the actions of American military personnel. To some Asian intellectuals, these arrangements were reminiscent of imperial-era concessions of extraterritoriality, which denied the host country the right to arrest, try, and punish nationals of the imperialist powers—who were subject only to authorities and laws of their country of origin. Extraterritoriality and SOFAs humiliated Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos, and Vietnamese, suggesting that local law was inferior and seeming to give immunity to foreign criminals for assault, rape, theft, and murder so long as the victims were Asian.
There can be no doubt that the U.S. government generally, and the Pentagon in particular, was eager to shield Americans serving overseas from the prejudices of foreign nationals and the presumed capriciousness of Asian legal systems. In those instances when the United States had maximum leverage over client states, SOFAs minimized the ability of host governments to control the actions of U.S. service personnel in their countries. And far too often, criminal behavior by these Americans seemed to go largely unpunished. In 1957, for instance, a mob of 25,000 ransacked the U.S. embassy in the Republic of China on Taiwan after a military court acquitted an American of murdering an alleged “peeping tom” and the Americans in the courtroom gave the defendant a standing ovation.32
On the other hand, as the bargaining power of the host country increased and as public anger against the behavior of Americans intensified—in Japan and later South Korea, for instance—SOFAs were renegotiated. Servicemen guilty of particularly heinous crimes were turned over to local authorities, who tried and imprisoned them, often angering members of Congress. Neither the Pentagon nor Asian nationalists were pleased with the compromises, but they eased pressures to eliminate the bases.
The existence of American bases on Asian soil also encouraged the growth of military camptown prostitution. Military prostitution historically had been a virtually inevitable result of deploying young men—from any country—far from home and the restraints of family and community. The Japanese, in preparing for the U.S. occupation, and hoping to avoid the widespread rape that their own troops had inflicted on the Chinese, turned to professional prostitutes to service the troops. However, wartime propaganda suggesting that Americans were “demonic figures [who] … possessed oversized sexual organs that could injure them” led the courtesans to refuse, and the government instead recruited ordinary women to do their patriotic duty and comfort the incoming Americans. Even after the official “recreation centers” were disbanded, the “pan pan” girls continued what historian John Dower has called “personal diplomacy,” becoming closer to and more influenced by Americans than any other sector of society. Japanese men, who already felt anti-Americanism as a result of defeat, added to it resentment born of shame and powerlessness.33
In Korea, the prostitutes similarly were seen as helping to contain foreign influence and rescue innocent girls from sexual assault, but nevertheless were blamed for consorting with Americans. Their Amerasian children were often shunned (especially those whose fathers were black). Later, Filipinos became so alarmed by the rise in HIV/AIDS among the roughly 55,000 brothel workers and bargirls that in 1988 a feminist group convinced the government to demand that all U.S. troops be certified AIDS-free before entering the country. Some Thais blamed American GIs for launching the nation's sex tourist industry. Particular fury, however, could be found in Okinawa, where a high concentration of American soldiers produced repeated rapes.34
Wherever bases sprouted, communities were divided between those appalled by the vice they witnessed and those who profited from it. What occasionally brought these interests together was the fact that some bases occupied valuable land, angering local citizens and especially real estate developers. In downtown Seoul, U.S. forces held a parcel conceivably worth billions of dollars. Okinawans complained bitterly that American installations impeded their island's economic development and that the noise of U.S. planes taking off and landing greatly reduced the quality of life. In the Philippines, there were endless assertions that the United States paid too little to lease Clark Air Force Base and the naval facility at Subic Bay. For some Filipinos, the ultimate outrage came in 1989 when American planes, flying out of Clark, buzzed Manila in a show of support for the government of Corey Aquino, which was being threatened by a military coup. Backing for the coup was minimal, but the use of the base to interfere in the politics of the Philippines seemed a worrisome harbinger of the role the former colonial master might choose to play.
U.S. foreign economic policy became a continuing source of tension with Washington's friends in Asia. To Asian governments, American wealth and power suggested that the United States should behave with virtually unlimited generosity. To Americans, memories of the Great Depression, a determination to control worldwide markets and sources of raw materials, and growing concerns about communist expansion dictated a different agenda. Immediately after World War II, the United States forced Chiang to act contrary to his own preference for a state-controlled economy, the advice of his economists, and the will of Chinese intellectuals who objected to American economic imperialism. Instead, his government accepted a commercial treaty designed to open China to American exports and investments in order to guarantee military and political support from the U.S. Similarly, when negotiating an economic aid package for the newly independent Philippines, Washington compelled Manila to accept the terms of the Bell Trade Act, criticized by the Filipinos as exploitative and intended to reserve a privileged position for American investors.35
The most persistent case of trade frictions involved Japan. In the years immediately following the end of the American occupation, Washington restricted Japan's trade with the People's Republic of China. Historically, exports to China had been an important source of Japan's prosperity, and Japanese businessmen eagerly sought to exploit opportunities they saw there. In the United States, however, fear of strengthening communist-bloc countries had led to the Battle Act of 1951, legislation that denied American aid to any nation trading in strategic materials with the Soviets or their allies. A Coordinating Committee for exports to Communist areas (COCOM) was established, and Japan joined it in 1952—the same year the China Committee (CHINCOM) was created. Determined to isolate the Peking regime and to separate it from Moscow if it could not be destroyed, the United States insisted on more severe restrictions on trade with China than with other communist countries—known as the China differential. Washington compelled Tokyo to make its own prohibitions even harsher by adding four hundred more items to Japan's list.
Japanese calls for liberalization of trade with China found a responsive ear in President Eisenhower. Eisenhower openly expressed sympathy for Japan's position and contempt for the China differential—and the total U.S. embargo against China. He argued that these trade policies forced China to be more dependent on the Soviet Union and created a situation in which the Japanese economy would require endless subsidies from American taxpayers. Nonetheless, his advisers, the bureaucracy, and an unsympathetic Congress found countless ways to frustrate his efforts to ease trade restraints. In 1956, a State Department assessment of Japanese-American relations concluded that “the one major area in which U.S. policy is opposed by virtually all segments of Japanese opinion … is in Japan's desire for closer trade and eventual diplomatic relations with Communist China.”36 It took another year—and great pressure from Britain as well—before the United States agreed to ease controls on its allies' trade with China.
Unfortunately, as the issue of trade with the People's Republic faded, bilateral trade problems began to plague Japanese-American relations, and they continued to do so through the remaining years of the Cold War. Integrating Japan into the trade patterns of the United States and the rest of the noncommunist world proved difficult. Initially Japan's manufactured goods simply failed to pass a minimum quality threshold, but during the occupation, Census Bureau specialist W. E. Deming lectured in Japan on how statistical analysis could improve standards—becoming so popular that an industry prize was named for him—and the U.S. hosted groups of executives eager to learn from American business. By the late 1950s, Washington was pressuring Japan to restrain its exports of a number of labor-intensive products, especially cotton textiles.37
As economic problems at home grew in the 1960s, given impetus by the strains of financing the Vietnam War, Washington retreated from the generous practices of the early Cold War days. Increasingly, U.S. protectionism became a point of contention even as Washington attempted to force open markets in places such as Korea. The critical point is that the United States could no longer subsidize the development of the economies of its friends, could no longer be the market of last resort for their products. Economic considerations rivaled and eventually overtook security concerns. American economic policy became more nationalistic, more responsive to the demands of manufacturers and domestic labor and less sensitive to those of allies in Asia (or anywhere else), inevitably triggering resentment abroad. The image of the United States as a benign force in the lives of Asians eroded and in some quarters disappeared altogether.
Unsurprisingly, tensions over economic policy did not subside during the remaining years of the Cold War. In 1968, Lyndon Johnson demanded a temporary limit on Japanese steel exports to the United States. In 1971, after several years of bitter wrangling over the trade deficit and synthetic textiles, came the “Nixon Shocks,” which included the de facto devaluation of the dollar and a 10 percent surcharge on import tariffs, both of which hit Japanese exporters particularly hard. Indeed, to reach a textile accord, Nixon threatened to use the 1917 Trading with the Enemy Act, prompting future prime minister Ohira Masayoshi to declare the U.S. agreement to be “the second coming of Commodore Perry's black ships.”38
But if some felt that Tokyo had been coerced, Japan's growth stumbled only briefly in the 1970s despite financial strains, oil shortages, and export quotas. Eventually, the burgeoning Japanese economy inspired Ezra Vogel to write his famed Japan as Number One, and the mounting U.S. trade deficit led to the phenomenon of “Japan bashing.” Several writers, most notably Chalmers Johnson and Clyde Prestowitz, argued that Japan was engaged in economic warfare against the United States and demanded that the American government fight back. U.S. pressure on Japan to restrain its exporters and open its markets to American goods angered Japanese nationalists and prompted them to rally behind the politician Ishihara Shintaro, who called for The Japan That Can Say “No.” Only as the Japanese economy stagnated in the 1990s, at the very moment that there was a resurgence of the American economy, did hostility over trade issues subside between the two countries.39
Economic differences did not stand alone in generating friction between Washington and Tokyo in 1971. The Nixon administration's decision to initiate relations with the People's Republic of China without notice to Tokyo struck the Japanese as “callous.” Its unwillingness to address rumors that weapons of mass destruction, specifically nuclear and chemical weapons, had been stockpiled on Japanese soil also stirred anger about Japan's subservient status.
America's war in Vietnam, more than any of these other issues, demonstrated how differently the U.S. and much of Asia looked at developments in the region. The United States' decision to involve itself in Vietnam defined it as an imperialist power brutally denying colonial subjects the freedom they thought they had won in their long struggle against France. The U.S., of course, believed that its fight would spare Asia the scourge of communism and preserve the credibility of Washington's commitments. Exploiting this disparity, the communist regimes of the region found the war useful in generating anti-Americanism abroad and confirming U.S. iniquity within their own borders.
Even in the American client state in southern Vietnam, there were anti-American currents among Buddhist priests and university students. Thich Tri Quang, known to have been the “mastermind” of the 1963 uprising against Ngo Dinh Diem that ultimately led to Diem's death, and “widely described as the single most influential individual in South Vietnam,” argued in late 1964 that American intervention was prolonging the war and setting Catholics and Buddhists against one another. He deemed the U.S. to be such a serious enemy that Marxism and the National Liberation Front could serve as temporary allies of the Buddhists in the fight to drive the Americans out. In 1965, Quang had a key role in an assault by a mob of five thousand on the United States Information Service (USIS) building in Hue, which helped bring about the fall of the sitting southern government five days later. As the numbers of U.S. forces subsequently increased, so too did the frequency of protests and the perception that each Saigon government was little more than a puppet of Washington.40
The most intense noncommunist opposition in Asia to the war in Vietnam came in Japan. To be sure, Japanese communists were at the forefront of the criticism of the United States, but tens of thousands of Japanese university students filled the ranks of the antiwar demonstrators. Some were pacifists, and some identified with Asians who, like the Japanese, had become victims of American power. Many were hostile to the conservative government of Sato Eisaku and found its support for the U.S. effort in Vietnam a convenient focus for their efforts to undermine it. The American “incursion” into Cambodia in May 1970 revived Japan's antiwar movement—and anti-Americanism—just when it had seemed to be fading. But the Japanese were not alone, and the Cambodian operations also triggered anti-American demonstrations in Manila.
Elsewhere, the events in Indochina, however much they may have been deplored, do not appear to have had a major impact on attitudes toward the United States because of the profits that countries anticipated making. Seoul sent troops to fight alongside the Americans in Vietnam once Lyndon Johnson agreed to put up enough money. The Korean public remained unhappy with the United States, but worried less about Vietnam than about Washington's insufficient alarm at a barely thwarted North Korean attack on the presidential palace. In Hong Kong and Bangkok, events in Indochina boosted local economies as American forces in the region spent dollars on procurement and R&R. Even Taiwan secured a contract for training Vietnamese troops.
Priorities between the United States and idealistic Asian populations also diverged when it came to guarding against communist subversion. Washington wanted to take no risks and preferred to support stable, if authoritarian, regimes. This was perhaps most apparent in Korea, but it was evident across Southeast Asia as well. In Korea, simmering outrage erupted after Korean troops massacred antigovernment demonstrators in the city of Kwangju in May 1980. Many, perhaps most, Koreans, aware that the U.S. military exercised operational control over the nation's military for the defense of the south from an attack by its northern adversary, assumed that the Americans also regulated domestic deployments and had authorized the use of force. They held the Americans complicit in the killings and, building upon anger over trade and the behavior of U.S. soldiers, became increasingly hostile to the United States. The American cultural center in Pusan was firebombed in 1982, as was the residence of the U.S. ambassador in 1989. In 1985, protesters staged a sit-in at the American cultural center in Seoul, and in 1987 a massive demonstration was held against the United States, alleged to be the largest in Korean history. In the last decade of the Cold War, Koreans were less likely to perceive the United States as their friend and protector and were more likely to hold Americans responsible for what they had suffered under a series of military dictatorships—and for the division of the Korean peninsula.41
Pakistanis—that is, the educated minority and the government—also began with very positive attitudes toward the United States in the 1950s, when they judged it on the basis of aid for development or opposition to India. John Foster Dulles, Eisenhower's secretary of state, was considered strongly pro-Pakistan. In the 1960s, however, relations deteriorated rapidly as a result of President John F. Kennedy's interest in India and his support for Delhi in the Sino-Indian war of 1962. A survey of Pakistani university students in 1963 indicated that they still viewed the United States positively, describing the country as strong, modern, progressive, efficient, democratic, and freedom-loving. Thereafter, persistent complaints of betrayal, almost certainly orchestrated by the government, appeared to explode when the U.S. remained neutral in Pakistan's wars with India in 1965 and 1971 and cut off military assistance in 1965.42
For Pakistanis, a critical turning point in the development of anti-Americanism came with the success of the Islamic revolution in Iran. In 1979, mobs sympathetic to Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini burned the American embassy and attacked U.S. government buildings across the country. Attitudes toward the United States grew more negative whenever the U.S. was in conflict with another Muslim country, as with Libya in 1986, when 68 percent of those polled favored Libya. Pakistanis also complained that Americans were pro-Israel, although this did not appear to have been central to their negative attitudes.43 In the 1980s, on the other hand, Islamists found anti-Americanism a useful tool in attacking the government of Pakistan, arguing that it was being propped up much as the Americans had propped up the shah in Iran. Reductions in U.S. aid increased anti-American attitudes among non-Islamists, who, according to polling data, actually wanted closer ties with the United States as well as economic and military assistance. The ruling elite manipulated anti-Americanism to force more attention and aid from Washington.
Dependence bred its own version of anti-Americanism. People on Taiwan might be unhappy with the behavior of American troops on the island, restrictions against the use of force against the mainland, or trade policies that limited exports, but they understood that opportunities for protest were very circumscribed. That changed somewhat when the Nixon administration moved to ease tensions with the People's Republic. Fears that the United States would abandon Taiwan, never far from the surface, resulted in attacks on USIS offices in Taipei and Tainan, threats against the U.S. embassy, and the firebombing of several cars driven by American military men in 1970. In February 1971, the Bank of America office in Taipei was bombed. These sporadic acts, however, hardly predicted the outpouring of anti-American violence, condoned by the Taipei government, after the United States recognized the Beijing regime as the government of China in December 1978. More than ten thousand people surrounded a motorcade carrying Warren Christopher, the deputy secretary of state, throwing tomatoes, eggs, and stones, as well as brandishing bamboo poles with which car windows were broken and American officials injured. Fury at and fears generated by abandonment stoked a brief spasm of anti-Americanism before officials settled down to discuss the future U.S.-ROC relationship.44
Throughout the Cold War, Washington was concerned not only with how Asians perceived the United States, but also with how they—especially the Japanese—ranked the U.S. relative to the Soviet Union and China. In 1957, a report of Japanese dissatisfaction with recent American foreign policy was balanced by data indicating an even more negative view of Soviet policies. At no time did the Japanese indicate more favorable views of the major communist powers than of their American allies, but in 1974 a USIA report indicated concern about the declining numbers supporting a favorable view of the U.S., and an improvement in opinion of China and the Soviet Union from unfavorable toward more neutral assessments. The years 1973–1974 appear to have been the high point of anti-American views among Japanese. Thereafter, more favorable views prevailed through the remaining years of the Cold War.45
Opinion of the United States relative to the Soviet Union fared less well in India. In 1956, a USIA report noted that results of an extensive poll had proved “distinctly unfavorable to the U.S.,” despite respondents' awareness that the United States contributed more aid to India than did the Soviets. The analyst thought the more favorable picture of the Soviets might have reflected the recent visit to India by Soviet leaders and remarks by Secretary of State Dulles critical of India's seizure of the Portuguese colony of Goa. But the poll results also indicated hostility to what was perceived as an exploitative U.S. economic system. The Americans took the lead in late 1962 and early 1963 as a result of supporting India during the Chinese invasion, but had slipped behind again by 1965—despite the fact that Lyndon Johnson was second only to the Indian prime minister as the world's most admired political leader. Indian views of the United States remained largely favorable for the remainder of the Cold War, but not as favorable as views of the Soviet Union. In the mid-1980s, two Indo-American friendship societies existed in India—and about fifteen hundred Indo-Soviet friendship organizations.46
At no time during the era of the Cold War did Asians take to the streets to protest against American democracy or freedom. On occasion, intellectuals or politicians expressed contempt for American culture, comparing it invidiously to their own traditional culture or to that of one or another European country. The ubiquity of Bay Watch, blue jeans, and Coca-Cola engendered enormous frustration—almost as much as among French elites. On the left, there were always reservations about American capitalism. Awareness of racism in the United States, underscored by the behavior of American troops in Asia, evoked criticism. But when anti-American demonstrations occurred, when U.S. government facilities were attacked in Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Pakistan, or Taiwan, it was invariably as a result of American foreign policy—usually policies perceived as detrimental to the interests of the demonstrators' native land. Communist influence appears to have been minimal. Negative attitudes toward the United States, and anti-Americanism when and where it existed outside the communist world, were always rational, albeit at times misconceived.
In the years since the end of the Cold War, there have been variations on earlier themes, but the basic pattern seems consistent: Asians find the democratic ideas of the United States appealing; they continue to see the United States as a land of opportunity and are impressed by its scientific advances. On the other hand, few believe that the United States does much good in the world, and many are critical of its government and of policies that seem at odds with its principles.
The collapse of the Soviet Union confirmed Americans in their belief that democracy and a market economy had enabled them to prevail over an undemocratic society weakened by an inefficient planned economy. In the new “unipolar moment,” there was considerable interest within the foreign policy elite in revitalizing the national mission to spread democracy and market economies across the planet.47 But much of the rest of the world feared American assertiveness, feared the unchecked use and abuse of American power. Government-controlled Chinese media and Chinese foreign affairs analysts argued that the United States was less interested in spreading democracy than in expanding American hegemony.48
In the last years of the twentieth century and the initial years of the twenty-first, some issues that shaped Asian attitudes toward the United States were not new. Communist governments still existed in Asia and—in North Korea and China especially—continued to inculcate negative views of the United States. The Pyongyang regime's near-monopoly of information made its task relatively easy. In an increasingly open China, more educated citizens had sufficient access to foreign sources to be less susceptible to manipulation—which did not by any means ensure that their attitudes would be more favorable. On the other hand, according to a 2002 poll, the Vietnamese, for all they had suffered directly at the hands of Americans, trailed only Filipinos and Japanese among Asians with favorable views of the United States.49
American bases continued to provide security but also to anger surrounding populations. In the Philippines, where nationalist sentiment waxed stronger in the 1990s, Washington despaired of reaching what it perceived as a reasonable price for keeping its bases and concluded that it no longer needed them. In Korea, more incidents, such as the acquittal of two soldiers who had accidentally crushed two young girls with their military vehicle, helped elect Roh Moo Hyun, a presidential candidate highly critical of the United States. Thousands of protesters joined in the singing of the popular song “Arrest Tank,” which suggested that “at least their armored vehicle should be arrested before it leaves Korea.” Still, an agreement to move the most controversial U.S. base out of Seoul did not materialize until the U.S. Defense Department opted to redeploy its forces as part of a region-wide plan.
In Okinawa, basing rights continued to seem essential to the Pentagon after the Cold War. Although the Soviet menace had disappeared, even more volatile challenges remained, including a brief nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula in 1994, North Korean missile testing, mounting friction between China and Taiwan and between China and Japan, and China's accelerating military modernization. But thousands of incidents between American servicemen and Okinawans in the 1990s, including more than five hundred serious crimes such as rape and murder, produced anti-American demonstrations. The rape of a twelve-year-old girl by three U.S. Marines in 1995 greatly exacerbated this Okinawan anger against the United States—and the government in Tokyo that seemed indifferent to the complaints of the islanders. Indeed, overall views of the United States among Japanese remained highly favorable, suggesting that the majority of them were content to host the American military presence—provided that it was concentrated in Okinawa.50
Economic frictions similarly did not dissipate with the end of the Cold War. Throughout the 1990s, Chinese held the United States responsible for keeping China out of the World Trade Organization; and after their country was admitted in 2001, they complained about American trade practices they perceived as protectionist. Japanese negotiators often indicated to their American counterparts that giatsu—foreign pressure—was necessary for the liberalization of Japanese economic policy, but the Japanese public and politicians resented the application of such pressure.51 The Asian financial crisis of 1997, which severely damaged financial institutions in Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia, and Japan, revealed the United States' reluctance to act quickly or provide bilateral assistance. Instead, the International Monetary Fund, perceived to be an American appendage, demanded humiliating market-opening concessions, encouraging conspiracy theorists in Asia to imagine an American plot to undermine their otherwise thriving economies.52
Remnants of the Cold War—the de facto independence of Taiwan and the continued division of Korea—fueled anti-American attitudes on the Chinese mainland and on both ends of the Korean peninsula. Nationalism replaced communism as the prevailing ideology in the People's Republic, leading officials and politically informed citizens to hold Washington responsible for encouraging pro-independence sentiment on Taiwan to impede the unification of their country. These suspicions were intensified by the visit of Taiwan's president, Lee Teng-hui, to Cornell University in 1995, which marked a reversal of U.S. policies that had been in place since derecognition of the Republic of China in 1979, and by the arrival of two U.S. carrier battle groups in the vicinity of Taiwan when the PRC attempted to intimidate Taipei in 1996. Continuing U.S. arms sales to Taiwan's government also provoked China, particularly when two presidents named Bush put together weapons packages of unprecedented size and offensive capabilities.
In South Korea, a generation that privileged the story of alleged U.S. complicity in the Kwangju massacre of 1982 over their parents' memory of American sacrifice in resisting the communist invasion in 1950 held the United States responsible for dividing the country. Washington's inept efforts to manage North Korea's nuclear threat, especially the decision by George W. Bush to brand the North as part of an “axis of evil,” further contributed to anti-Americanism in South Korea. A Gallup/Chosun Ilbo poll released in August 2005 revealed that two-thirds of South Koreans of military age, both men and women, indicated that they would support North Korea if it went to war with the United States.53
Some problems that emerged after the Cold War had been inconceivable in the age of Soviet power. The Gulf War of 1991 and the humanitarian interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo would not have been possible when two superpowers confronted one another. The Indian government, so critical in the 1960s of U.S. actions against Cuba and Vietnam, displaying what Washington saw as “knee-jerk anti-Americanism,” perceived the Gulf War as legitimate. The Japanese, on the other hand, free of Cold War obligations to support Washington, voiced anger when their taxes were raised to pay the $13 billion that the U.S. government had extorted from Tokyo as Japan's share of its ally's war expenses. The Chinese labeled the American attacks in the Balkans as interference in the internal affairs of Yugoslavia/Serbia—a precedent they feared for intervention in their own country on behalf of oppressed Tibetans or Uighers.54
Nothing, however, inflamed anti-American sentiment in China as much as the supposed direct attacks on Chinese persons and property that many believed to be part of a strategy to weaken the country. The first incident came with the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999, which the U.S. insisted was accidental and which the CIA blamed on out-of-date maps, but which killed three Chinese. Demonstrations, some facilitated but not controlled by the government, swept two dozen Chinese cities, during which thousands of students stoned the U.S. embassy in Beijing, burned the residence of the American consul in Chengdu, and advocated the expulsion of McDonald's from Guangzhou. Two years later, Chinese nationalists rallied again when a young Chinese pilot died presumably defending the motherland from the arrogant intrusion of a U.S. spy plane flying along the Chinese coast.55
Perhaps the most predictable post–Cold War policy problem for the United States was finding a way to integrate China into Washington's conception of the new international order—to manage the peaceful rise of a China that seemed likely to emerge as the principal competitor to American power. Americans had long insisted that they favored the emergence of a strong and prosperous China. But some feared that such a China might become a threat to the influence and conceivably the security of the United States. They argued that their government ought to be containing rather than engaging China. Young Chinese, aware of these debates in the United States, interpreted American criticism of their human rights record, their political system, their quest for reunification with Taiwan, and their record on proliferation and on trade as an effort to undermine their government. Indeed, many of these youths, having looked to the United States as a teacher and a model in the 1980s, felt rejected and angry in the 1990s. Reviving the sort of cultural attack on American society that had characterized nineteenth-century Chinese travelogues, the 1993 smash TV hit A Beijinger in New York provided a harshly anti-American portrait of heartless, immoral, and cutthroat economic competition. So too the 1996 best-selling book China Can Say No vividly denounced the United States and its invidious influence on the Chinese people. Less luridly, but with similar conviction, scholars worried about American hegemony and desire to bury communism.56
The attack on New York and Washington by al Qaeda on September 11, 2001, had a profound effect on relationships in Asia, as it did on those between the U.S. and peoples around the world. The initial devastation and American distress evoked sympathy, but surveys taken soon thereafter showed that opinion leaders across Asia believed that the United States had overreacted with its war on terrorism. In Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines—as in Europe—polling data showed that 76 percent thought it was good for Americans to feel vulnerable, and 60 percent contended that U.S. policy had provoked the attacks. Even though these opinion-setters reported widespread favorable feelings toward the United States in their countries, they also contended that American policies were responsible for the dangerous gap between rich and poor countries.57
September 11th may have evoked compassion in some places and schadenfreude in others, but for the Chinese it created a welcome opportunity to accelerate a process of repairing relations marred by anti-American attacks on one side and fears of a China threat on the other. Although in China, as elsewhere in Asia, there were some who celebrated as the Twin Towers fell, China's president quickly called Washington to offer condolences and assistance. Beginning in those early hours, the rhetoric of anti-Americanism virtually disappeared, to be replaced by declarations of cooperation and friendship.
In Asia, as in most of the rest of the world, favorable attitudes toward the United States dropped significantly after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Muslim countries were especially troubled. Polls showed that 72 percent of Pakistanis and 74 percent of Indonesians professed to fear an American attack on their country. Favorable views of the United States in Indonesia dropped from 61 percent in 2002 to 15 percent in 2003. The Japanese public disliked the war and opposed the decision of the national government to send troops to Iraq to support American occupation activities. But pollsters found anti-Americanism “especially prevalent” in South Korea, where hostility to the Iraq war simply magnified anger over a panoply of other issues. Only in Singapore, where the regime nursed its own historic fears of Muslims, did strong support for the United States materialize.58
The attitude of educated Indians and Indian officials toward the United States might serve as a paradigm for Asian views generally. Citizens of the world's most populous democracy manifestly had no quarrel with the U.S. political system or the freedoms that Americans enjoyed. Nonetheless, they favored the Soviet Union over the United States for most of the Cold War. Their leaders and their media often expressed extraordinarily negative views of the U.S. Why?
The United States asked the world to adhere to a very high standard of behavior and proclaimed itself a model to the international community in the wake of World War II. Accordingly, the people of the world, and particularly those in Asia whose struggles with colonialism, imperialism, and inequality continued, held Americans to that high standard. When Americans failed, and they did so repeatedly, they sparked anger at what appeared to be hypocritical principles and policies.
Analysis of polling data and commentary in the Indian press, for instance, indicates skepticism about American society. As socialists, Indian political leaders and some intellectuals were predisposed to see American capitalism as exploitative, and they shared delusions about the virtues of Soviet “socialism.” But they were not deluded when they denounced racism in the United States and questioned the commitment of the American people to their professed ideals of freedom and equality. As they read about discrimination against their nationals in the U.S., about Jim Crow, about lynchings, and about the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr., who had espoused Gandhi's methods of peaceful confrontation, the evidence of a contradiction between American principles and practices was overwhelming.
Similarly, it was easy for Indians, so recently freed from British imperialism, to identify with the struggle of the people of Indochina against French imperialism—and to see the intervention of the United States in Vietnam as betraying a fundamental inconsistency between American anti-imperialist rhetoric and its imperial actions. They saw American support for Chiang Kai-shek and Syngman Rhee, as well as for Bao Dai and Ngo Dinh Diem, as Washington's effort to impose leaders of its choice on Asian peoples.
In large part, negative Indian attitudes toward the United States were founded on the paradox of a counterrevolutionary revolutionary state. Americans saw themselves as fighting for democracy, freedom, and equality against a godless Soviet communist conspiracy that threatened to impose a monolithic system of control across Asia. The Indian view of the causes and consequences of the Cold War clearly differed significantly.
But none of this explains fluctuations in Indian responses to the United States as much as do specific American policies toward India and toward India's adversaries—Pakistan, in particular, but also China. For much of the Cold War, the United States allied itself with Pakistan and provided the Pakistanis with substantial economic and military aid, outraging Indian opinion. In 1955, Secretary of State Dulles appeared to prefer the steady hand of a declining European colonial state when he condoned Portuguese control over the enclave of Goa rather than see India recover its coastal territory. In 1971, Richard Nixon sided with Pakistan against India to try, unsuccessfully, to prevent creation of the state of Bangladesh. On the other hand, when the Americans supported India, as in the Sino-Indian War of 1962, images of the United States became more favorable. In short, American policy also mattered. The Cold War per se was relevant only in that anticommunism produced Washington's anger at India's flirtation with Moscow, and the U.S. desire to contain communist influence in China led to American aid to Pakistan and support for India against China.
Comparable stories could be told about other countries in the region regardless of regional diversity. Polling data, probably most extensive on Japanese public opinion, as well as the writings of Asian analysts demonstrate positive views of democracy and freedom in the United States among noncommunist populations, and even among an emerging middle class in China.59 Criticism of American society overwhelmingly has focused on the failure of Americans to live in accordance with the principles they espouse and the unwillingness of their government to conduct its foreign affairs in accordance with those principles. Where U.S. racism or criminal conduct tested the tolerance of Asians, they lashed out at the United States as much out of disappointment as from simple anger.
If anti-Americanism is defined as disapproval of the principles of liberty and equality to which virtually all Americans believe themselves to be committed, there is very little of that in Asia. What exists can be found among the ruling elites of the surviving communist countries of the region and amid the increasing numbers of Islamists—who are appalled by secularism, popular culture, and especially the freedom of women in the United States and the West in general. More often than not, Asians appear to admire and enjoy American popular culture. Disneyland, Starbucks, McDonald's, and KFCs proliferate. Chinese performers emulate American modern dance companies. In Hong Kong, the official program for preparing mainland Chinese children to enter the city's public schools concludes with a stop at McDonald's for a Big Mac, fries, and a Coke. The millions who emigrate to the United States every year still see it as the land of opportunity. American soft power continues to have enormous appeal in Asia.60
At various times during the Cold War, peoples all over Asia, like those in India, opposed American policies that placed the fight against communism above their national priorities, appeared to favor the interests of their adversaries, or seemed recklessly and insensitively to be extending American interests at any cost. Thus America's war in Vietnam alienated large numbers of ordinary people in the region. Often they disapproved of Washington's support for dictators or unpopular governments, including those in their own countries. Governments in the communist states did what they could to poison the minds of their people against the United States.
At the same time, strong majorities in Japan, the Philippines, and Taiwan—and for most of the Cold War years, in South Korea—were grateful for American aid and protection. Since 2003, as the focus of American military activity has shifted to the Middle East, favorable views of the United States have not declined as sharply in Asia as elsewhere in the world, except, of course, in Muslim countries—although Pankaj Mishra has noted that anti-American sentiments remain rare among India's more than 100 million Muslims, and Kashmiri Muslim leaders continue to appeal for American mediation in the India-Pakistan dispute.61
Preoccupation with the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq, however, has robbed U.S. policy in Asia of many of the virtues that kept Asian opinion favorable. Because Washington has narrowed its approach in Asia, as elsewhere, to issues that appear to revolve around security imperatives, leaving economic and other ties open to exploitation by competitors, the future for the United States in Asia may be more difficult than the past. Unless policies change soon, anti-Americanism may become less of a problem for the United States in the Asian region than its irrelevance.