The McGill Report

I asked a Mexican friend who is an expatriate
      executive living in Minneapolis, how Mexi-
      cans view the United States.

      "We have two very distinct views of Americans,"
      he said. "On the one hand we think Americans
      are a very kind, warm, and generous people,
      who maybe also are a little bit naive," he said.
      "In Cuernavaca, where I'm from, we get this im- 
      age from the many Americans who come
      to study Spanish. On the other hand, we
      also see America as a very aggressive, un-
      fair, and even warlike country. This comes
      from American companies and the U.S.
      government. Your companies use many un-
      fair commercial practices for their advan-
      tage, and we often see the U.S. government
      interfere in trade practices and militarily in
      Central and South America."

      In sum, the Mexicans base their opinions about
      America on three main sources: individual
      Americans, U.S. corporations, and the U.S. gov-
      ernment, of which only individual Americans
  provide foreigners with a positive image of our

      This has been my experience as well. In Japan,
      England, Hong Kong, and China, where I have
      lived and worked, my personal relationships
      have always contained elements of warmth,
      devotion, appreciation, and trust that have been
      lacking in my attitude toward the other person's
      government or their national corporations. My
      Japanese friends would say the same thing
      about how they viewed individual Americans,
      as opposed to the U.S. government or U.S.

      Let's leave aside the philosophical question of
      how groups of good people can behave
      wickedly. Practically speaking, doesnít it make
      sense to think about increasing the amount of
      face-to-face contact between America and
      foreign countries as a part of our overall national
      security policy? As a part of our war on terror-
      ism? A certain level of trust, or at least mutual
      respect, must precede even the simplest
      political negotiations. On the face of it, our
      government and companies aren't engendering
      that respect, while individual people are.
      If individual Americans donít step up to do this
      important work for peace right now, who will?

Copyright @ 2002 The McGill Report