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