Obama Fumbles With Arab World

Obama Fumbles With Arab World

The results of a new Zogby poll confirm that attitudes toward the United States among Arab populations are as negative as ever. Reaction in this country has generally divided into two camps. One faction shrugs its collective shoulders and embraces the convenient excuse that Arabs always hate the United States. That is untrue historically, and the notion carries with it the insidious implication that anti-Americanism is embedded in Arab DNA, rather than being a reaction to Washington’s policies in that part of the world. The contrasting interpretation is that such hostility is still a carryover from the Bush years and that given time President Obama will improve America’s image in the Arab world as he has in Europe and some other regions (For an earlier argument along those lines, see here and here).Unfortunately, there is a major problem with that thesis. There was a measurable improvement in Arab attitudes toward the United States as a result of Obama’s early comments and gestures—especially his 2009 speech in Cairo. But that initial bump in popularity has not only vanished, positive views of the United States are now lower in many Islamic countries than they were at the end of the Bush administration.

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