Perception of U.S. hasn’t improved under Obama
by Simon Kent
An enduring narrative of the George W. Bush presidency was that the world hated the U.S. for one reason alone. It was all about the man in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington.
You know, he was “dumb.” He was “hopeless.” President Bush was the Texas doofus with a crooked smile and a rich daddy who inherited his presidency.
Oh the shame, Bush’s self-declared betters moaned. Oh the ignominy, replied the Washington press corps.
In 2008, this same Greek chorus knew that once the oh-so-cool Barack Obama rolled into the White House things would be different. Really, they would. Farewell village idiot and hello the coolest guy on campus. What could possibly go wrong with a group hug approach to supreme executive power?
Well, plenty, judging by the results delivered by a president who just wants to be liked.
For the past four years, anti-U.S. sentiment has remained as a striking element of global discourse. In some areas — especially in the Middle East — it has even increased.
A recent survey by the Washington-based Pew Charitable Trust confirms this.
Put simply, it found anti-Americanism remains a universal trait that has nothing to do with who is president.
Two months ago, the Pew Research Center released its Global Attitudes Project. It revealed “only 24 % of Turks express confidence in Obama.” That is a big jump from previous surveys but hardly a ringing endorsement.
In Egypt, the results are just plain desultory. In a country that has just experienced a year of bloody revolution and strife in the name of democratic change, America is viewed much as it was at the start of Obama’s term.
There, just 22 % expressed approval for America, compared to four years ago when 19 % expressed a favourable opinion. That change probably falls within the margin of error for the survey.
America’s already poor ratings have declined further since 2008 in Jordan and Pakistan; in both countries, 19 % held a positive view of the U.S. when Obama came to power, compared with just 12 % in 2012.
All of which must be incredibly disappointing for a president who spends an inordinate amount of time seeking favor in the Middle East.
To him, the problem of a Muslim world of hate is to castigate western nations and tell them to do more to accommodate their critics.
There is no such exhortation to critics in the Muslim world to behave in a similarly tolerant fashion.
It also turns its back on the fact that the U.S. has held vast quantities of moral authority for more than a century — no matter which political party had its choice in the White House.
It has been a liberating force in two world wars and saved Europe with the Marshall Plan. It has also had its nose bloodied in the jungles of Vietnam but has still, been willing to come back for more.
In Iraq and Afghanistan critics say America arrived unwelcomed and left in disarray. Yet, those voices within the Washington beltway cannot point to any mass protests in Baghdad or Kabul saying “Yankees go home” or “we don’t want your stinking democracy” much less “and you can take those billions in aid with you when you go, too, infidels.” No, people like freedom even if they hate the country that, for the most part, helped deliver it.
So, Obama, stop trying to be liked by everyone and face it. You lead a country that is reviled abroad. Just get used to it.
No amount of grinning appearances amongst the ladies of The View will change a thing.
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