Gee, You Think?

The Council on Foreign Relations has sponsored a new report. It seems that most college educated people in Egypt, Morocco and Indonesia have a great deal of hostility towards the United States. The headlines of the news stories about the report say “Muslim World Largely Anti-American”.

The report goes on to say pretty much what one would expect. The people surveyed rejected the US reasons for the Iraq invasion, voiced strong anti-Semitic stereotypes, and were either unaware of the aid that the United States has provided to the Muslim world or underestimated it by at least two orders of magnitude.

CoFR says that these attitudes can be changed by long term diligence. America has to listen, draw attention to the good works that we perform, and assume a “humbler tone”. They also say that we have to tolerate disagreement on key security issues.

The most astounding aspect of the report is the way that the authors view the media in the Muslim world. While they mention al-Jazeera, and they admit that the coverage the Muslim satellite network generates is uniformly hostile to the US, they ignore the role that local government-controlled media has in shaping public opinion. Just browsing the offerings at MEMRI shows that anti-American and anti-Semitic propaganda is endemic throughout Islamic media, and hardly confined to a single news source. The attitudes expressed by the study’s respondents neatly follow the official line, something that is neither new nor a surprise to anyone who has paid attention.

So what should the US do to improve its image in the Muslim media? The authors say that the US should spend more money on Arabic language news channels.

To be frank, I find the recommendations included in the report to be naïve in the extreme. Islamic governments, as well as religious extremists and terrorist groups, have used the US and Israel as convenient scapegoats to explain away their own failures for decades. This is a trend that continues to this day. Urging the US government to spend more money on media blitzes in an effort to educate the masses in Islamic countries is doomed to failure.

There is one thing that was mentioned in the report that could provide some leverage. The authors admit that US aid to Islamic countries has risen to historic heights in recent years, even though the majority is unaware of this fact. It’s possible that a more realistic portrayal of the US could be the condition of continued aid.

This is extremely unlikely, though. Aid has been increased as part of the War on Terror. Most of it appears to be a bribe to keep Islamic governments from actively aiding international terrorist groups, and it’s probably not a good idea to start making demands at this stage of the game.

5 thoughts on “Gee, You Think?”

  1. So the educated Muslems are unaware of how much money Uncle Sam is throwing away in Islamic countries. Maybe bribing these governments for support is the wrong approach. Cut off the funds and maybe these intellectuals will realize where it used to come from! Either that are give it to them in two dollar bills.

  2. James,
    I’m with GUYK.

    Thanks to Ginny for introducing me to Kipling’s poem “Dane Gelds” last night. I think our continued exhorbitant aid to countries like Egypt fit his definition.

    It doesn’t take a limber mind to compare our current bind to “dhimmitude.” “Pay up you infidels, or we’ll call you arrogant in our state-run press, and justify the bombing of your cities.”

    Crimeny. Sometimes I think the isolationism of a Buchananist, America-First, conservatism has some allure. But then I wake up!

    I sure wish our teenage-like aid beneficiaries would hurry up and grow-up.

  3. What amazed me was reading (possibly in this survey, I don’t remember) that in a focus group of Muslims surveyed, some believed the US was up to 85% Jewish. The actual number is about 2%.

  4. America is repeatedly instructed on the need for humility, forbearance, and tolerance. The assumption is that, upon effecting this “change”, the world would henceforth be a better place. However, none of these attributes are reciprocated by those ever-complaining nations, and observed only in the breach.

    When the islamofascists begin to reject suicide bombing as unacceptable, I’ll listen to such complaints. Not until then, however. Rewarding such complaints with US dollars is merely self-defeating.

  5. NPR in Arabic? Yeah, that’ll work…not. Sheesh. Bill Moyers speaking in tongues – just feel the Love!

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