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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 2/16/13

Obama, The US And The Muslim World: The Animosity Deepens

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Cross-posted from The Guardian

Another new poll, this one of Pakistan, shows: a central promise of Obama for improving US security is an utter failure


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Pakistani protesters burn a representation of an American flag during a rally to condemn US drone attacks in Pakistani tribal belt of Waziristan on Thursday, July 7, 2011 in Mutan, Pakistan. Photograph: AP Photo/Khalid Tanveer

In his first inaugural address, back in 2009, Barack Obama announced: "To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect." Improving how the US was perceived among the world's 1.6 billion Muslims was not about winning an international popularity contest but was deemed as vital to US national security. Even the Pentagon has long recognized that the primary cause of anti-American Terrorism is the "negative attitude" toward the US: obviously, the reason people in that part of the world want to attack the US -- as opposed to Peru or South Africa or China -- is because they perceive a reason to do so.

Obama's most devoted supporters have long hailed his supposedly unique ability to improve America's standing in that part of the world. In his first of what would be many paeans to Obama, Andrew Sullivan wrote back in 2007 that among Obama's countless assets, "first and foremost [is] his face," which would provide "the most effective potential re-branding of the United States since Reagan." Sullivan specifically imagined a "young Pakistani Muslim" seeing Obama as "the new face of America"; instantly, proclaimed Sullivan, "America's soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm." Obama would be "the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology" because it "proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can." Sullivan made clear why this matters so much: "such a re-branding is not trivial -- it's central to an effective war strategy."

None of that has happened. In fact, the opposite has taken place: although it seemed impossible to achieve, 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.

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