The overwhelming American economic and military power over the past six decades had a major impact on global attitudes towards the United States. Power breeds admiration as well as resentment, and seemingly unchecked, unilateral American power partly fueled the phenomenon known as anti-Americanism in the first decade of the millennium. The financial crisis of 2008, however, acted as a revelator of the relative decline of American power, at least in the economic sphere, leading to the popularization of the concept of a “post-American world”. If the power of the US impacted its international image negatively, should we expect the decline of this power to impact its image positively? This paper investigates whether the “post-American world” will also be a “post-anti-American world”. Using data from the Pew Global Attitudes Project, we explore three hypotheses on how the relative decline of American power can affect global attitudes towards the US and ask whether anti-Americanism has the potential for being replaced by anti-China sentiments. We find, instead, that opinions about the US and China are often correlated and appear to be linked to other sets of attitudes, including ant-globalization sentiments and xenophobia. Moreover, we find that some of the factors that contributed to anti-Americanism can still exist in a “post-American world”.
An earlier version of this paper was presented at the workshop “The Politics of Anti-Americanism” at Princeton University, 13 May, 2011.