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Arien Mack Editor’s Introduction THIS ISSUE, LIKE 12 OF OUR ISSUES IN THE PAST 1 7 YEARS, CONTAINS papers based on presentations at a Social Research conference. “Their America: The US in the Eyes of the Rest of the World,” our thirteenth conference, was held at The New School in October of 2004. We are grateful to the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and an anonymous donor for making this conference possible. The immediate motivation for “Their America” was the sharp increase in anti-American feelings across the globe in the aftermath of 9/11. However, this did not occur in the immediate aftermath, when there were strong expressions of sympathy from almost everywhere, but only later, when our aggressive and virtually unilateral response to the attack was made clear. The conference was convened to tiy to place this phenomenon in the context of a longer history of attitudes toward the United States as a way of better understanding the current situation. Unfortunately, things have not improved much in the past year since the conference. We continue to refuse to sign the Kyoto accords or become a party to the International Criminal Court. In addition, we have apparently engaged in what many believe is torture of prisoners who we secretly transport to other countries where our laws against inhuman and degrading treatm ent of prisoners do not apply. None of these actions are likely to endear us to others around the world, partic­ ularly as we continue to congratulate ourselves for our commitment to democracy and decency. Echoing this, Orhan Pamuk, the celebrated Turkish novelist who is about to stand trial in Istanbul for something social research Vol 72 : No 4 : Winter 2005 v he said about the Turks’ treatm ent of the Armenians during the First World war, recently published a piece in the New Yorker’s “Talk of the Town”: But these days the lies about the war in Iraq and the reports of secret C.IA prisons have so damaged the West’s credibil­ ity in Turkey and in other nations that it is more and more difficult for people like me to make the case for true Western democracy in my part ofthe world (Dec. 19,2005: 3). Given the increasing tendency of the United States to act unilat­ erally on the world stage, an understanding ofhow the rest ofthe world views us, our administration, and our actions is crucial to comprehend­ ing why our actions succeed or fail, and how best to formulate future plans-not only as to how to face or prevent failed states, but in how to face or prevent the myriad transnational challenges that would best be confronted multilaterally and collaboratively (for example terrorism, international justice, environmental despoliation, natural disaster, AIDS, and other public health crises). Of course, even in the current moment of intense anti-American feeling, there continues to be, in many places around the globe, a dynamic tension between responses to America’s aggressive military interventions and, for lack of a better shorthand term, what American culture has to offer. The conference and this issue examine this tension in the hope of deepening our understanding of the current situation and illuminating ways in which this situation might be made more conducive to global engagement and multilateral cooperation. Our intention in the issue, as it was in the conference, is to foster discussion among representatives from across the globe, and then between them and the conference audiences and now our readers, on how the United States is and has been viewed in various countries over approximately the past 75 years. This discussion has the potential to lead to new understandings ofhow the United States has both succeeded and failed in its political and military interventions, and how our cultural vi social research influence is received in other parts of the world. To that end, we invited representatives from different regions of the world to participate in the conference, because we believe that it is these reflective people, native to a country, who can speak with most authority about how the United States is and has been viewed from elsewhere. We decidedly did not want to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-768X
Print ISSN
0037-783X
Pages
pp. v-vii
Launched on MUSE
2014-04-30
Open Access
No
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