From the extent of the confusion and surprise that greeted the September 11 attacks and their aftermath - sometimes expressed in the plaintive "but why do they hate us?" - it became clear that there is an enormous gap between the self-understanding of the United States and popular and elite understandings of this country overseas. Central to the latter is the view that the USA, through its policies and practices, is behind much of the cultural and military conflict present in the world today. This cognitive mismatch suggests the need for careful analysis of perspectives on "America" from beyond its shores - not to explain "why they hate us" - but to provide a lens to see selected aspects of American political institutions, cultural practices and social norms through foreign eyes. The following essays were solicited by the Council as part of this project.
Also be sure to visit our extensive archive of essays on the implications of September 11 at After September 11.