Bin Laden is dead. Can US image come back to life?

The perception of the US among Pakistanis teeters on a precarious edge, falling far short of general public support, or certainly approval.

Here are some thought-provoking stats,

April/May 2009

  • ‘US plays a negative role in the world’ (67% of Egyptians)
  • ‘US seeks to weaken and divide the Muslim world’ (76% of Egyptians)
  • ‘To control Mideast oil and to impose its culture on Muslim countries’ (80% of Egyptians)
  • That ‘the creation of a Palestinian State is not a US goal’ (60% of Egyptians)

South-East Asian Muslim feeling, as of 2007, is similarly revealing,

  • 47% of Indonesians, 38% of Pakistanis, believe that “Osama bin Laden would do the right thing concerning world affairs…”
  • 64% of Pakistanis see the US as more of a threat than India (45%)
  • Many Pakistanis see the Muhajideen militants as ‘fellow Muslims who are deserving of greater sympathy than are the American aims’  (Jane Perlez, “Pakistan’s Ticking Clock,” The New York Times, April 6, 2009, p. A1)

MIDDLE EAST POLICY, VOL. XVI, NO.3,  FALL  2009,© 2009, The Authors Journal Compilation © 2009, Middle East Policy Council,PUBLIC DIPLOMACY: IDEAS FOR THE WAR OF IDEAS,Peter Krause, Stephen Van Ever

While closure for mourning families is a valid concern, so too is American public image abroad, and here US public image is found lacking. Needless to say that the US has never been particularly popular among certain Muslims, certainly among Pakistanis, in the past few years.

Images of American youth, touting their beer cans, screaming ‘USA’ into camera, loud and shirtless, stars and stripes fluttering off of camera, reinforce the perception of American callousness and disregard. Part of Pakistan’s population, small as it might be, and certainly some Middle Eastern Arabs, continue to watch CNN. These images do matter.

Engaging with Al Qaeda might be less likely than ever, so too is getting the support of populations like those of Pakistan.

A conversation is mush more important than a monologue on peace.

One thought on “Bin Laden is dead. Can US image come back to life?

  1. Ugh, I had a visceral reaction when this one woman was screaming into the camera USA!USA! Had to change the channel. Everyone playing for the camera and reporters banal questions right down the middle of the plate, everyone acting like 9/11 was such a personal thing. “Me, me, me.” I am glad that this is good for Obama, maybe we can start to let this era of history phase out. Also had to stay up till 3 am just because there was a good reason.

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