by Herbert I. London
In a recent 2010 Arab Public Opinion Poll conducted by Zogby International and the
Included in the findings are the following points:
• Arab views hopeful about the Obama administration policy in the Middle East declined from 51 to 16 percent between 2009 and 2010, while those discouraged rose from 15 to 63 percent,
• Those thinking
• The idea that the United States is the main threat to Arab countries and societies declined from 88 percent under President George W. Bush to 77 percent under President Obama
• The Iranian threat grew from 7 percent in 2008 to 13 percent in 2009 and down to 10 percent in 2010.
• Asked which foreign leader is most admired, almost 70 percent name an Islamist or a supporter of extremist forces. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan received endorsement from 20 percent, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez 13 percent, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 12 percent, Hezballah's Hassan Naarallah 9 percent, Syrian President Bahar al Assad 7 percent and Osama bin Laden 6 percent.
Several conclusions emerge:
First is the obvious conclusion that the adjective moderate hasn't any place in the Middle East, where one man's moderate is another man's radical. The assumption that President Obama's
Second, whatever change in tilt the present administration has given to the Israel-Palestinian question, negative attitudes to
Third, despite the rhetorical shift in
Fourth, despite the imperial aims of
Fifth, it is remarkable that not one moderate leader in the Arab world, alas even in the non-Arab world, makes the list of most admired figures.
What this adds up to is an Arabic-speaking community where radicalism is ensconced; where, despite foreign aid, diplomatic appeasement and attempts at cultural understanding, a passionate hatred of
As a consequence, policy implications are apparent:
The effort to appease, flatter and buy off has not worked. The notion that Obama represents a new chapter in
Apologias should be replaced by assertiveness. As long as the
It is sometimes suggested that there is a huge divide between the realities in the Middle East such as poverty, hatred, adventurism, internal competition and the fantasies such as the ultimate disappearance of Israel; and there is no doubt this divide exists and influences public opinion. But there is an even greater divide right here in Foggy Bottom where the fantasists contend that all we have to do is have the Israelis make greater concessions to the Palestinians and Middle East peace will flourish, and the realists' recognizing the intractability of Arab beliefs, who tell us that all the appeasement arabesques in the world are not likely to alter Arab attitudes to any appreciable degree.
Herbert I. London
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