I've been skimming a new book in the mail, and it looks like it's worth closer inspection. It's called "America Against the World," and it's a mainly empirical, psephological take on how other countries view America and why America is different from so many other places. It's a complicated piece of work, but it reminds me why, twenty-one years ago, six weeks after arriving here, I wrote to tell my parents: no offense, but I've found a home. Two key characteristics that distinguish Americans are religious belief and the notion that the individual is responsible for his own destiny. Suddenly, after secular, class-based England, I didn't feel so isolated.
But the data also reveal a stunning unraveling of global good feelings toward the U.S. in the past few years. Anyone who has been abroad lately will testify. My trip in London was mainly filled with social engagements with British Tories: probably the most sympathetic sub-group America has in Europe (with the exception of the Poles). They all seem terribly discouraged by the trends in the U.S. and completely befuddled by the conduct of the war. Many Europeans were never going to give the U.S.the benefit of the doubt. But we seem to have lost the few who would.