If you ever travel outside the US, you inevitably hear about what the US is doing, what they're discussing, who the important people are, etc. The reverse is not true:
- Everyone outside the US knows the top US politicians. You even know what issues they are discussing, like gun control and healthcare.
- You'll know the names of the states. How many other foreign countries do you know the subdivisions of?
- You might also hear about the US sports leagues.
- You know what movies are big in the US. You know what songs are popular.
For all it's flaws, I loved my time in the USA and appreciate the people and a lot of what it stands for. Despite of all the imperial crap that comes out of Washington D.C. the USA still represents a sense of hope for a lot of people.
America still has a lot to offer the world. It's role in the world is greater than Holywood or the government. Merry Xmas.
Right, of course, how could we forget the petrodollar.
I prefer to compare the USA with Europe as a whole, its member countries as states. In that light, I wager many Americans would know quite a few. Norway, France, Germany, Poland, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Ireland surely would make the majority? Maybe even Belgium. Are we still allowed to say UK?
Americans love to chastise themselves for lack of knowledge of foreign countries. But, to compare a >300mm economic powerhouse to a <10mm sideshow? Neither would I. Don’t be so hard on yourselves :D
edited to add:
That said, I get the GP's point about excessive self-flagellation, and agree that it's OK to cut people some slack for not having a super-precise grasp of the local geography in places they'll probably never go. When I see major cities that lie within just a few kilometers of US borders described as, e.g., "Toronto, Canada" instead of "Toronto, Ontario", though, I still wonder.
Most US states are culturally and historically insignificant. The comparison between European countries with thousand years of history to most of the US states is lacking.
There are more US states than European countries, which have an older history and an overall larger population.
I am writing this without any intention to take away from the important US states. I am just looking at the bottom half here.
The states aren't just provinces. It's not happenstance that they are constantly talked about.
Hell, it's in the bloody name of the country.
I think most people from the EU could also name provinces or states where conflict with the central government exists on a larger scale or where people are at odds with the central government. I assume quite a few people will know of Kashmir for example. Just as you are unlikely to know the names of states for for example Germany, except maybe Bavaria, but for Spain you will likely have heard of Catalonia. And you will likely also know about what actually happens there instead just iterating through remembered terms for regions.
Point is if you don't know any names, you don't know any context either.
So we can tell that a guy who hasn't heard of eigenvectors (name) doesn't know much about linear algebra (context).
A similar argument could maybe be made for voting preferences /political leanings of the different regions in the US to give a more practical example.
But yes that is rebutting my last comment. You dont necessarily learn the state names by learning the context.
Knowing similar things about the US tells you the area Texas covers is dryer than average even if you don’t know the name Texas.
I think most somewhat educated people could.
Talking about EU is like talking about OTAN. Each of their component countries have their own president, their own political countries, and in a good part and their own policies, besides the group common policies.
Countries are about political borders, not economical. Would you put California, Wall Street, Shenzhen and a few more at the same level as countries?
However, to your second and third point: yes, I do consider California more on the level of a European country. With its own laws, which very significantly impact the lives of her citizens. Hell, I'd wager almost everyone knew the name of its political leader at some point! Quite a famous guy :) originally European, even.
Political borders exist very strongly between the states of the U.S.A., that's why they call it the "U.S.A.".
I'm not just being glib; the level of delegation to states is so intense, capital punishment is a states rights issue. That is unheard of within any other country I can think of.
At the end of the day, this is politics and linguistics: famously unspecific and imprecise. We will never find a perfect classification. It's about what is "least wrong." And to me, comparing a U.S. state to a European country makes much more sense culturally, economically, and politically, than it does to squeeze all of the U.S.A. into Denmark.
(I don't know whence "Wall St.", but my point was never merely economy. Perhaps because of the "economic powerhouse" when referring to the U.S.A.? That was more an attempt at a jazzy moniker than a complete summary of what I think makes the country relevant, but I see the confusion. Apologies.)
The United States is a Federation. The States do have strong borders, their own laws, their own takes on a republican system, even their own electoral and judicial systems that are in many ways distinctly different. California is not distinct from South Dakota in this way.
The States do tend to have very large GSP’s relative to most countries, always directly comparable to the GDP of a nation. This is two parts being part of the single largest national economy in the world and one part the fact there are some very poor countries in the world, and even some European countries aren’t exactly rich, even if they aren’t exactly poor either. Generally each State does punch above its economic weight, even if the budgetary considerations are often complicated by that largest national economy in the world having a multi-trillion national budget backing up four of the largest armed forces in the world.
However, that doesn’t make each and every State particularly relevant to an internationally-minded person of the world. A well educated person might be able to name every nation in Europe, South America, North America and even the Middle East and quite a number of subdivisions to boot, but what about Micronesia, Africa or Polynesia? Most probably won’t be able to tell the difference between Polynesia or Micronesia anymore than they can tell the difference between North Dakota, Alabama or Colorado.
Then certain other States have brands, and punch way above their weight. California. Texas. New York. If they are well known, it is because they are distinctly relevant on the global stage by themselves. California alone has Hollywood, Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Stanford and Wine Country. These are all fairly well known brands on their own, SFO and LAX are effectively brands to a well seasoned air traveler.
The fact that California has an economy in the Top 5 in the world in her own has no bearing on the life of your average adult almost anywhere in the world, but they will probably recognize the products and services of California, Inc. Even if they don’t, there is still a decent chance they partake in some of California’s bounty of farm products, almonds in particular are largely grown here.
My point being you can’t cherry pick California and use an argument that would apply to any of the other 50 States when you can also make many of the same claims for: German States, Austrian States, Swiss Cantons, Australian States, Canadian Provinces, and UAE Emirates (name more than two without looking it up, you might be able to but at most the only two most hear about are Dubai and Abu Dhabi), and these are just off the top of my head.
There are a lot of places that get to make their own laws and enforce them. In the United States there are many tribal nations that get to make their own laws and enforce them which are largely anonymous and unknown to most Americans and you won’t find them on most maps that mark the States. That doesn’t necessarily put them all on the same level as the sovereign countries they reside in. Norway is a sovereign country, California is not. The United States is a sovereign country, the European Union is a mess of treaties.
US states have their own governor, their own political counties, and in a good part and their own policies, besides the common group policies.
> Would you put California, Wall Street, Shenzhen and a few more at the same level as countries?
Tennessee has approximately the same population, GDP, land area, etc. as Ireland. Texas was an independent country before it was a state.
That’s also true of the sub-divisions of many European states.
And cities have mayors and school boards have chairmen etc. But a US State has its own Supreme Court with the final decision on matters of state law. The governor of California doesn't work for President Trump.
Brazil is called "Federative Republic of Brazil". It's been that way for half a century.
It's about both, and when it comes to the world stage? Yes. Californias GDP is greater than every country in Europe except Germany - just barely. Heck, CA's GDP on the world stage is 5th according to wikipedia.
If you want to talk about land mass, there are also only a few countries in Europe that are larger than CA.
Wall Street, and by extension NYC is one of the most important cities in the world. It is absolutely on the same level as a country.
Unless it has something to do with commerce, taxes, investment and finance, scientific research, intellectual property, the military, international law, and the Capital, the Feds can't do it. They can ask states nicely to do it (like the Medicaid expansion), and they can give monetary incentives (like tying the drinking age to highway dollars), but they can't do it themselves.
The whole point of this is that people couldnt write the essay you just wrote about practically any other place on the planet, and the court cases that support it assuming it was ever challenged
For example, when I was in China, people asked me all sorts of questions about Texas. It turns out the Lone Stars have built quite an international reputation as a... libertarian paradise. Hawaii, California and New York play on the international stage, but nobody has heard of Idaho.
Americans know the divisions of the UK. They might know Holland is a part of the Netherlands. Most of us know Bordeaux Normandy and Champagne are provinces of France, Bavaria is in southern Germany and Crimea is supposed to be in Ukraine. We know Venice, Sicily, Kashmir, Tibet, Manchuria, Xinjiang, Siberia, Baja California, the Yucatan and Patagonia.
Also our states don’t get redistricted often (ever), unlike some countries.
>"Most US states are culturally and historically insignificant." //
Someone said upthread.
Thing is they're not culturally insignificant, I've no idea where Idaho is (NW?) but somewhere I've heard about its potatoes! That's because in the UK almost all the TV is from USA. Perhaps someone in a film, cartoon series, TV serial, song was from Idaho, maybe a country singer sang about it.
That said, the impression as a European is primarily one of homogeneous culture, and primarily of European immigrants (though I'd say this is changing), particularly that Spanish speaking USA is making more impact in UK the last decade.
Generalising the UK impression is that French, Spanish, Italian, etc., are distinctive (and in stereotype monocultural) in the same way USA-ian (which most just call "American") is.
Yes, the differences of Silicon Valley/LA/Cali vs. the mountains of the Wild North, vs Washington, vs the Deep South, vs swampy Florida, etc. stand out. But the impression I, at least, get in movies is of no more variance across USA than within a Euro country.
My wife and I did a test and could name all but one of the US states (with no prep) but not all the UK counties.
There's a movie trope of kids learning the positions, shapes, State flowers, etc., of all the USA states ... I must have seen that at least 20 times in movies/TV. Never once have I seen anything approaching that for any other country (not even my own whilst I was at school).
I have absolutely no idea what the official flower of any state is, including the state where I was born, and the one I live now.
I think that's the only one I (think I) know.
Saying the entire United States population is proudly uneducated is roughly equivalent to saying all of the UK hates Europe and wants to leave the EU, or that all of Germany is racist because of recent violence against migrants, or that Italy is full of lazy alcoholics who don't want to work. Just because a subset of the population holds certain views (and I don't think anyone is really proudly ignorant, just apathetic because they can be) doesn't mean the whole country or even most of the country thinks or acts that way.
You attack our population for being uneducated and culturally ignorant and yet here you are regurgitating tired stereotypes...
Source: Lived in the U.S. for many years.
My degrees are in mathematics and physics, and I've tutored students in elite colleges, so I know a thing or two.
Why is that?
Your preference is cute, with Europes new and old supernational governments but it isnt comparable to the US and gives you no insight into the inner workings of those countries or subdivisions.
You do realize, that Norway is not a member of the EU. So in the context of Europe and the EU, it's more like Canada vs. USA.
As names (if that). Try having them pinpoint them on a map, or say anything intelligent about them.
And in US-own media, I've seen people unable to name the vice president, think Africa is a country, not know the 50 states, and all kinds of things.
I’m part of what you could fairly call the cultural elite of my country, and as such I’m not representative for every Dane, but knowing what goes on in important countries, is frankly part of being a small nation.
Anyway, that also means the US doesn’t dominate as much as you might think. Even with Trump, the most important countries in our news sphere much of this year have been Sweden (election), Germany (der mutti crisis and CDU chairman), France (reforms and later revolts), Russia (Putin being evil in a new way each month) and Britain (brexit).
It’s much harder to recall things you can’t spell in you vocabulary to break them down and where pronunciation is similar.
Look at Berlingske today. There's a story about the US/China trade war that's brewing, there's a story about the US stock market going down, there's a story about the US government shutting down, and a story about a hypothetical US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
By contrast, there's an opinion piece about Ireland and Brexit. And there's story about Germany and China.
And it tends to be like this. All the other countries are there from time to time, but the USA is always there x3.
I’ll agree that the more populist papers, like Berlinske, are very US focused and so are a lot of the free internet news.
I was not trying to say that we aren’t US centric. The very first thing I wrote was literally that I agreed that we are, but the US hasn’t owned our news cycle every month of 2018, far from it. Obviously is an important part of our news cycle, but so is every G8 country, and in my social circles people follow those countries as closely as we follow the US.
> Everyone outside the US knows the top US politicians. You even know what issues they are discussing, like gun control and healthcare.
"Everyone" is not the right word here. People speaking english on the internet probably know about those to a superficial level. There's a lot english speaking of people on the US, so we hear about your issues.
> You'll know the names of the states. How many other foreign countries do you know the subdivisions of?
People that knows some US state names also usually know some of other countries.
> You might also hear about the US sports leagues.
At least for Brazil, Spanish is the one everybody knows about.
> You know what movies are big in the US. You know what songs are popular.
Agreed here, people really like US movies and songs.
That is only vaguely true. People outside the US tend to know of these issues in the media about as well as the average American, which isn't very well.
I don't find that is true. Most Americans don't even know of most US states and I find people outside the US are about as aware of US geography as the average American. Americans that frequently travel abroad tend to be well versed in geography particularly where they are traveling to. Likewise, foreigners who travel to the US to be far better aware of US geography than the average American.
That is absolutely true. Everybody is in love with American media.
I’d wager it’s more like, “People know Texas, and California, New York, and Florida, Hawaii, etc.”
I’d wager most people can name several. This is mostly because of point 3, movies and media.
US states behave a lot like EU members and knowing many US states is not indicative of anything.
I'm quite sure this is the world standard map, but apparently many grew up only with one that has the states centered.
Actually I’d point out this annoys some Alaskans in my family, as that projection usually cuts part of Alaska off and leaves it dangling on the far right of the map. But we’re so euro-centric it just seems like the “correct” map even though it makes looking at part of our own country more difficult.
I think it was on west coast or Hawaii I saw those.
But what really made me think it's the norm was that the a Universal Pictures logo also has the Americas in middle and their intro ends with the Americas centered also:
When America is in the middle then Asia is broken in half.
With America off to the side the "edge" of the map is the International Date line, thus no land-mass is broken.
Wars have a very strong role in it. Both in the countries in this map and in US dominanting headlines here in Brazil when they go to war.
And most people in the world probably don't know US politicians beyond the current President and his/her main challenger (during election time).
But I do remember Scientific American(mention unintentional, but could be the same power law) debunking power law's presence in many networks.
I don't even think it is a matter of education, except for some elite northwestern european countries, where it matters. Most people learn a lot about the US through the movies and random news headlines. It's what always happens with global leaders.
My experience has generally been the opposite: many Americans overestimate their country’s importance in the world. Just because the U.S. does or says something doesn’t mean other countries will necessarily go along with it.
And I don't even live in the US and I think that.
There's a reason it's by far the top destination for immigrants around the world.
So the US has the most headlines for about any other country? I highly doubt it. All your following points actually contradict that assumption.
Rome would have been the #1 talked about country evereywhere else when it was at the top of its game. Same with the British Empire etc.
United Kingdom - England, Scotland, Wales, ...
Canada - Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, ....
The US spends a lot of money exporting its media, so it can't be surprising that everyone follows its movies and songs or that in London we occasionally have to endure a temporary hysteria about hand-egg (american football)
US trivia finds its way very easily into UK news. Probably lazy journalists take anything off social media that is in a language they can understand and copy-paste, with the result that in the UK media there is more of that kind of story from the US than from the UK.
Trump's antics get reported. I'm not sure British people are generally aware of there being any other politicians in the US.
Making that statement however does tell us a lot about you.
1. The blanket of Union Jacks, especially in the first half of the 20th century.
2. The impact of the Korean War clearly pales in comparison to the impact of Vietnam.
3. If you didn't know better, it would look like the US and China were at war.
4. France in 1926-27. I'm not sure what happened in France of international significance then? The bombing of Damascus?
It would be neat to extend this visualization into clicking through to see which headlines/stories influenced the choice.
Charles Lindbergh landed at Le Bourget airfield in 1927, which might explain the mentions in the last half of that year.
That makes a good soundbite, but I think that changing the players and venues means it's a different war.
The war of Theseus?
Unfortunately, I don't think the population of either countries see things this way, and stoking the hatred is politically expedient in both countries. It's really too bad.
Now the target is China. Which makes me wonder how much of this avalanche of attack on China is driven by a insidious political agenda.
One other factor that stood out to me was that it seems like there are more countries popping up from the mid 70s to the 90s, then it flips back to the previous pattern of a handful of countries dominating the picture (Iraq, then China).
It's a very interesting visualization, thanks for sharing!
Especially with regards to more controversial conflicts, this says more about what NYT chooses to drive. I'd argue in many cases they attempt to deliver narratives instead of reacting on them.
Now, this is how all wars are done, but then, it generally wasn't the case.
Probably the only lasting legacy of the Korean War in the US to people who weren't directly involved is the meme of "brainwashing" and its permanent association with Communist Asians due the Lifton book which ironically popularized both the idea of the "thought-terminating cliche" and the throught-terminating cliche of "brainwashing."
A simple line chart (each line labelled with the country) versus year would have been far better.
The Russian SSR had only 51% of the population and 77% of the land of the Soviet Union. Both the Belyrussian SSR and Ukrainian SSR were United Nations members states and constituent states of the Soviet Union. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, some scholars have referred to Russian Federation as a rump state.
Speaking for myself, growing up in the 80s, I definitely wasn't completely aware that Russia and the USSR were separate concepts, probably until the latter's break-up.
Then the Germans sank the Lusitania and became the chief bad guy.
In WW2, as others have mentioned, the US was more concerned with the plight of the British (would they hold out?), and then especially focused on Japan. Japan attacked Hawaii and subsequently the Philippines, which was owned by the US at the time and home to a lot of Americans.
Certainly the US played a role in every theater in WW2, but there were almost two different wars going on —- in Europe, primarily Britain and Russia versus Germany; and in the Pacific, primarily the US against Japan.
The Zimmerman Telegram helped, too.
In the beginning of WWII (not sure exactly till which years but at least 39-41), the US only fought in Europe via pilots (the UK greatly lacked pilots), and transport boats. The ground troops only arrived before D-Day at which point the US did get [more] involved in the WWII in Europe.
With WWI the British were still the preeminent economic power.
No. The USA public was isolationist until the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Germany stupidly declared war after Pearl Harbor in sympathy with Japan.
The key things to understand about WW2 are:
1) Germany and Japan declared war on a country they couldn't invade because of geography.
In other words, the USA did not have enough deterrence at the time to prevent WW2. [paraphrasing Victor David Hanson]
The B-29 was the ultimate weapon in WW2, not the atomic bomb (which was dropped from a B-29.) So much so that Russia spent vast resources after WW2 copying it down to the last rivet.
2) The USA was already the "arsenal of democracy" a year before Pearl Harbor. Historians regard Pearl Harbor as more of a trap than a victory for the Japanese, which would have required both sinking all of America's carriers plus a successful land invasion of Oahu to end well.
3) All sides thought that bombing the enemy's cities would break their will to fight. As any chess player knows, people will fight to the bitter end with very few exceptions.
If by US you mean the public, many in the public did care, insofar they were aware. Generally not enough to want refugees in their country, but they still wanted to see the atrocities of the Nazis condemned by their government more than they were.
But if by US you mean the US government, parts of it were bothered enough to block reports, at the very least:
> In early 1943, US State Department officials blocked reports about the mass murder of Jews from reaching the United States. Some at the State Department wanted to avoid any increase in public pressure to aid Jews and thought that if the American people did not have information about the atrocities, they would not protest.
> In November 1943, a group of congressmen, influenced by activist Peter Bergson, introduced bipartisan resolutions in the House of Representatives and Senate calling for President Roosevelt to create a government commission to rescue Europe’s Jews. In secret testimony before Congress, Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long declared that the State Department already had admitted 580,000 refugees, a claim soon publicly proven false.
> At the same time, US Treasury Department staff investigated the State Department’s delays and obstruction in sending relief into Europe to aid Jewish refugees. They discovered that State Department officials had deliberately suppressed reports about the murder of Jews. Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau Jr. agreed to present their findings to President Roosevelt.
> As a result of Treasury’s efforts, Roosevelt signed an executive order on January 22, 1944, establishing the War Refugee Board. It was charged with the rescue and relief of victims of Nazi oppression as long as it did not interfere with the war effort.
At least that way people could engage with you beyond down voting you.
Personally I think this visualization is quite neat. Sorry.
If you look at gapminder.org they use modern countries so that you can track data over time. Gapminder goes back to 1800 before Germany existed - yet they still call it Germany.
Gapminder was originally Swedish although it is now owned by Google.
Other than Diaz winning yet another election in Mexico, it doesn't look like much was going on internationally. Goldwin Smith, who appears to have been very well known at the time with comments on American politics, died that month. He lived in Canada. A few front page headlines about his death might have been enough to put Canada on the chart, given the conditions.