Wednesday, July 13, 2011

United States now more hated in Arab world than under Bush

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Pakistani protestors burning US flag
Pakistani protestors burning US flag

Remember how one of the big selling points in favor of then-newly elected President Obama was how he symbolized change and progress, not just for Americans, but also for the world at large? How the Arab world in particular thought their US-fueled nightmare was finally about to end (or, at least, relent somewhat)?

Funny how things change in less than three years:

I've written numerous times over the last year about rapidly worsening perceptions of the U.S. in the Muslim world, including a Pew poll from April finding that Egyptians view the U.S. more unfavorably now than they did during the Bush presidency. A new poll released today of six Arab nations -- Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco -- contains even worse news on this front [original emphasis and links]:

The hope that the Arab world had not long ago put in the United States and President Obama has all but evaporated.

Two and a half years after Obama came to office, raising expectations for change among many in the Arab world, favorable ratings of the United States have plummeted in the Middle East, according to a new poll conducted by Zogby International for the Arab American Institute Foundation.

In most countries surveyed, favorable attitudes toward the United States dropped to levels lower than they were during the last year of the Bush administration . . . Pollsters began their work shortly after a major speech Obama gave on the Middle East . . . Fewer than 10 percent of respondents described themselves as having a favorable view of Obama.

What's striking is that none of these is among the growing list of countries we're occupying and bombing. Indeed, several are considered among the more moderate and U.S.-friendly nations in that region, at least relatively speaking. Yet even in this group of nations, anti-U.S. sentiment is at dangerously (even unprecedentedly) high levels.

Oddly enough, seeing the newly heralded US President not only violate his vows to end ongoing wars, but actually increase both the scale and number of combat operations being carried out overseas, seems to have the effect of irritating international communities that had put their hope into his promise of a new start.

Makes his Nobel Peace Prize seem all the more ironic, doesn’t it? You’d think we were living in some sort of ongoing satire.