via Obama, the US and the Muslim world: the animosity deepens
Obama has presided over an America that, in many respects, is now even more unpopular in the Muslim world than it was under George Bush and Dick Cheney.
That is simply a fact. Poll after poll has proven it. In July, 2011, the Washington Post reported: “The hope that the Arab world had not long ago put in the United States and President Obama has all but evaporated.” Citing a poll of numerous Middle East countries that had just been released, the Post explained: “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.”
A 2011 Arab American Institute poll found that “US favorable ratings across the Arab world have plummeted. In most countries they are lower than at the end of the Bush Administration, and lower than Iran’s favorable ratings.” The same year, a poll of public opinion in Egypt- arguably the most strategically important nation in the region and the site of Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech – found pervasively unfavorable views of the US at or even below the levels of the Bush years. A 2012 Pew poll of six predominantly Muslim nations found not only similar or worse perceptions of the US as compared to the Bush years, but also documented that China is vastly more popular in that part of the world than the US. In that region, the US and Israel are still considered, by far, to be the two greatest threats to peace.
In sum, while Europeans still adore Obama, the US is more unpopular than ever in the Muslim world. A newly released Gallup poll from Thursday, this one surveying public opinion in Pakistan, provides yet more powerful evidence of this dangerous trend. As Gallup summarized: “more than nine in 10 Pakistanis (92%) disapprove of US leadership and 4% approve, the lowest approval rating Pakistanis have ever given“.
Worse, “a majority (55%) say interaction between Muslim and Western societies is ‘more of a threat’ [than a benefit], up significantly from
39% in 2011.” Disapproval of the US in this nuclear-armed nation has exploded under Obama to record highs.
It is not hard to understand why this is happening. Indeed, the slightest capacity for empathy makes it easy. It is not – as self-loving westerners like to tell themselves – because there is some engrained, inherent, primitive anti-Americanism in these cultures. To the contrary, there is substantial affection for US culture and “the American people” in these same countries, especially among the young.
What accounts for this pervasive hostility toward the US is clear: US actions in their country. As a Rumsfeld-era Pentagon study concluded:
“Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’ but rather, they hate our policies.” In particular, it is “American direct intervention in the Muslim world” – justified in the name of stopping Terrorism – that “paradoxically elevate[s] the stature of and support for Islamic radicals”.