Looks like my link to the Markovits essay has become one of the most-commented posts this blog has ever seen. I've gone through them with interest. Of all the views posted, I guess my take is the most similar to Koch's. Koch doesn't seem to be American, so perhaps Germans are more free with their comments to him than they would be with someone whom they know to be an American. In any case, because I criticize the policies of the Bush Administration (and was doing so before 60+% of the American public started doing the same thing), I often get an "unvarnished" view as well.
I have seen not only an increase in anti-Americanism recently, but what I would call a shift in its basic nature. Anti-Americanism of one form or another has, as we all know, been around since long before the U.S. was even founded as a nation.
However, it's now characterized by certain overtones that were much more rare before 2003. Now, I am not talking about what prominent German politicians and business leaders say. As Markovits points out, they will always call for better U.S.-German relations, and will often make claims about the state of those relations that look rather unrealistic from the ground. Here are the overtones I hear in conversations with ordinary Germans:
- We don't really care what the state of U.S.-Europe relations is. If they're bad, it's not because of anything we did. And if they're bad; so be it.
- The number of areas of profound disagreement has increased to the point where we can say that many of our basic values are different from Americans'.
- This situation is not an exceptional situation that will be remedied by a return to the "norm" of close U.S.-Europe relations anytime soon, if ever. Nothing in particular needs to be done about it (see #1).
As Koch points out, 2003 was a very bad year, but in some respects, 2004, when a slim majority of the American people returned George W. Bush to office, was dramatically worse. That's when "the American People" seemed, to Europeans, to declare their ownership and approval of Bush's policies. The anger and resentment seemed to quadruple overnight. In 2003, the U.S. and Europe were going through a rough patch in their "marriage." Now, they have separated and are headed for an amicable divorce. When the kids (reporters, the public) are around, of course, they'll still try to put a brave face on things.
Otherwise things are icy. Markovits help explain why this is so by pointing out another important dynamic: from a European perspective, anti-Americanism is now both much more practicable than it was, say, 20 years ago. It's even desirable and useful from a European perspective.