With a hat tip to James Taranto, it’s time to bust the myth that we had all this store of goodwill built up because of what Muslim terrorists did to us on 9/11, but Bush squandered it when he went to war. From the London Telegraph, Anne Applebaum writes:

But it’s also true that this initial wave of goodwill hardly outlasted the news cycle. Within a couple of days a Guardian columnist wrote of the “unabashed national egotism and arrogance that drives anti-Americanism among swaths of the world’s population”. A Daily Mail columnist denounced the “self-sought imperial role” of the United States, which he said had “made it enemies of every sort across the globe”.

That week’s edition of Question Time featured a sustained attack on Phil Lader, the former US ambassador to Britain – and a man who had lost colleagues in the World Trade Centre – who seemed near to tears as he was asked questions about the “millions and millions of people around the world despising the American nation”. At least some Britons, like many other Europeans, were already secretly or openly pleased by the 9/11 attacks.

And all of this was before Afghanistan, before Tony Blair was tainted by his friendship with George Bush, and before anyone knew the word “neo-con”, let alone felt the need to claim not to be one.

There was outpouring of sympathy, to be sure. But to confuse that with some sort of policy shift is just wrong.

The dislike of America, the hatred for what it was believed to stand for – capitalism, globalisation, militarism, Zionism, Hollywood or McDonald’s, depending on your point of view – was well entrenched. To put it differently, the scorn now widely felt in Britain and across Europe for America’s “war on terrorism” actually preceded the “war on terrorism” itself. It was already there on September 12 and 13, right out in the open for everyone to see.

And really, was the breaking of the UN sanctions by the likes of France and Russia really a result mostly–even partially–of some sort of lost love for the US? Please. It was selfish interest, plain and simple, by economies that couldn’t handle the loss of a trading partner very well.

Anne does note that American may have turned folks off with our “go it alone” mentality (although a coalition of 20 groups in Afghanistan and a few dozen that have or had participated in Iraq doesn’t sound too much like we’ve “spurned traditional alliances”), but faults Europe as well for already being “disinclined for their own reasons to sympathise with any American tragedy”.

Frankly, Democrats are blaming Bush for losing something we never really had.

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