Thomas L. Friedman: An American in Europe

Friedman on being in Europe:

That sense that America is now so powerful that it influences everyone else’s politics more than their own governments – so everyone wants to vote in our elections – is something you hear more and more these days.

Elizabeth Angell, a 23-year-old American studying at Oxford, told me that a Pakistani friend at school had asked her if he could just watch her fill out her absentee ballot for the U.S. election. “He said to me, ‘It’s the closest thing I am going to get to voting. I wish I could vote in your election because your government affects my daily life more than my own.”‘

The one concrete result of the U.S. election will probably be to reinforce Europe’s focus on its own efforts to build a United States of Europe, and to further play down the trans-Atlantic alliance.

“When it comes to emotions, the re-election of Bush has reinforced the feeling of alienation between Europe and the U.S.” Moïsi said.

“It is not that we are so much against America, it is that we cannot understand the evolution of that country. This election has weakened the concept of ‘the West.”‘

Funnily enough, the one country on this side of the ocean that would have elected Bush is not in Europe, but the Middle East: It’s Iran, where many young people apparently hunger for Bush to remove their despotic leaders, the way he did in Iraq.

An Oxford student who had just returned from research in Iran told me that young Iranians were “loving anything their government hates,” such as Bush, “and hating anything their government loves.” Tehran is festooned in “Down With America” graffiti, the student said, but when he tried to take pictures of it, the Iranian students he was with urged him not to. They said it was just put there by their government and was not how most Iranians felt.

Iran, he said, is the ultimate “red state.” Go figure.