As President Obama prepares to make a major address on the tumultuous changes spreading throughout the Middle East, a new survey finds that the rise of pro-democracy movements has not led to an improvement in America’s image in the region. Instead, in key Arab nations and in other predominantly Muslim countries, views of the U.S. remain negative, as they have been for nearly a decade. Indeed, in Jordan, Turkey and Pakistan, views are even more negative than they were one year ago.
This shouldn’t be a surprise. Here are millions of people standing up against their tyrannical governments, and the major force blocking their success in all but a few cases is vigorous U.S. support for authoritarianism. “And in countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Pakistan,” the report specifies, “most say their own governments cooperate too much with the U.S.”
About a year ago, in a Brookings Institution poll of opinion in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates, results were quite similar. It showed that Arab populations view the U.S. as the greatest threat to their region, and when asked what policy changes would most improve their opinion of the U.S., the top four responses were an Israel-Palestine peace agreement, withdrawal from Iraq, stopping aid to Israel, and withdrawal from the Arabian Peninsula.
To boot, Reuters reported yesterday that “Almost 90 percent of men polled in contested districts in southern Afghanistan believe foreign military operations are bad for them, according to research by the International Council on Security and Development, or ICOS.” The air of confusion and consternation at this is even more noticeable in the Reuters report than in the Pew report. “Despite battlefield gains against insurgents,” it says, “the U.S. is failing to win over Afghans.” Translation: despite the reign of constant horror, abuse, and embarrassment the U.S. has unleashed on this virtually defenseless country, they still refuse to admire us!