Friendly Fire: Losing Friends and Making Enemies in the Anti-American Century

In 1945 the U.S. was the founding impulse behind the cornerstones of the International Community: the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and most of all the United Nations. Untainted by colonialism or fascism, heroic in warfare and idealistic at home, the U.S. presented itself as a paragon to inspire a less noble and divided world. Sixty years later, that perception had been almost completely reversed. America had, in fact, quietly sowed the seeds of its own decline in the eyes of the world in its own back yard. Anti-Americanism, now a global phenomenon, was road tested in South America when most of the rest of the world was too distracted to notice or care. There, under the guise of anti-communism, we sponsored dictatorships, turned a blind eye to killing squads and tolerated the subversion of democracy. Almost nobody knew, so it didn't matter, right? Wrong. On two counts. First, South America remembered. And second, encouraged by our success, we convinced ourselves that pre-emptive Americanism was a policy that could be shipped worldwide. This proved to be a big misjudgment. The world noticed and, helped by better scrutiny and faster technology, anti-Americanism flourished among America's closest allies beyond the Americas in a way and to a depth not seen before. As this reaches a crucial tipping point, Julia Sweig offers a brilliant and blistering history of what went wrong, and a feisty and compelling prescription for how to sort it out.