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November 14, 2007

Editor of Arab Reformist Website: 'Distortion of the image of the United States has become a political objective for Arab governments'

Topics: Middle East News and Perspectives

MEMRI has a piece today on an editorial in the Arabic reformist website, in which editor Omran Salman explains the failure of American public diplomacy efforts and blames the dictatorial Arab regimes of being behind the campaigns to smear America as part of their struggle for survival. In the editorial, Salman says that the distortion of the image of the U.S. has become a political objective for Arab governments in their struggle for survival, and a tool to banish the specter of democracy and change in the Arab region.

The take home message is that we are definitely loosing the war for the hearts and minds of the Muslims in the Middle East, and the diplomats in our State Department have fallen part and parcel - hook, line, and sinker, for the Arab leaders' deceptions, and they themselves are part of the problem. They're a joke in the Arab world, and have no more respect than clowns.

According to Salmon:

"What Those Conducting American Public Diplomacy Do Not Realize is that, in the Arab World, Little Happens by Chance"

"To this end, they poisoned the views and ideas in the Arab world, and filled the minds of the people with such extraordinary superstitions, fantasies and conspiracy theories, beginning with the accusation that the CIA and the Jews masterminded the attacks of September 11 and not ending with the 'Crusader war' that President George Bush has declared on the Islamic world.

"What those conducting American public diplomacy do not realize is that in the Arab world, little happens by chance.

"When Karen Hughes visited a school in an Arab capital to meet with the pupils, or a social institution to meet with its employees, she thought that people were speaking naturally and revealing what they actually believe - their opinions, in fact - especially toward the United States.

"Such things may happen in America, where people are free in what they believe and what they say. But it is naive to assume that the same thing happens in the Arab world.

"In the Arab world, numerous authorities intervene to shape people's views and impose on them what to say. First, there is the information authority, for the most part owned by the government or by agencies close to it; this information, whether it comes in the apparent form of news or opinions, teaches people negative views of the United States day in and day out.

"Then, there is the imam of the mosque. Generally, he is a government official, and it is impossible for him to leave cursing the Jews, the Nazarenes (Christians), and the global arrogance - headed of course by America! - out of his sermons."

"Those Who Conduct American Public Diplomacy Have Allowed the Arab Governments and Their Corrupt and Despotic Agencies To Deceive Them - And Have Then Themselves Attempted to Deceive American Public Opinion"

"And then there is the school - a government institution - which programs the pupils from childhood on with hostility toward everything non-Arab and non-Muslim, and programs them to believe in declaring other Muslims apostates and infidels, and in jihad, and in the restoration of the Caliphate and the revival of Arab and Islamic glory - to which the West is an obstacle!

"Instead of researching the true reasons for the distortion of America's image in the Arab world, and presenting a list of the organizations and individuals engaged in the distortion - which in any case takes place openly, in broad daylight - those who conduct American public diplomacy have allowed the Arab governments and their corrupt and despotic agencies to deceive them - and have then themselves attempted to deceive American public opinion.

"What they do not know is that they have become a joke in the Arab world, subject to jest and ridicule from all sides.

"Thus, instead of the United States winning the hearts and minds of Arabs and Muslims, the Arab governments and Muslim Brotherhood have ensnared the hearts and minds of many State Department diplomats, as well as those of some of Washington's influential research institutes." (emphasis mine)

You can read the entire MEMRI piece - here ...

To say the least, this is not a pretty picture, and if this guy Salmon is right, we're in deep yogurt and the idiots at State are part of the problem - as is our media.

As bad as Salmon's views sound, the most disturbing thing about what he says is that the view of America on the Arab street extends to Main Street here at home. In a conversation last week with some Muslim friends at our local Starbucks I was told that the Muslim community in the Middle East, especially among Arab world, held nothing less than absolute disdain, mistrust, and contempt for America. I was struck not only by what they said, but also by the tone, and it was only with great restraint that I avoided them what I was thinking, that they themselves were Muslims, all from the Middle East, and yet they were sitting in a Starbucks in Florida - which is most definitely in America, not the Middle East. If America is so bad, what in the hell are they doing here. However, wanting to avoid a heated discussion, I let the conversation move on to what else was on at the movies. The conversation had turned to how Muslims in the Middle East feel about America while chatting about what was at the movies - other than Lions for Lambs which I had said I wouldn't go to see even if it was free.

I have the feeling that what my Muslim friends were telling me in our conversation was as much about how they feel about America and our freedoms, as how Muslims in the Middle East view America. Apparently the despots of the ME have done a hell of a lot better job of trashing America than our State Department has done in getting the truth out about America and democracy. And lets not forget the effects of our liberal media and the far Left helping the Arab despots by constantly trashing America.

Posted by Richard at November 14, 2007 7:03 PM

It is naive to assume that just because America is the strongest nation on earth it is also the smartest nation on earth. Unfortunately our failed foreign policy and inability to master diplomacy has proven otherwise.

Paul F Davis - author of United States of Arrogance

Posted by: Paul F Davis at November 16, 2007 2:03 AM

"It is naive to assume that just because America is the strongest nation on earth it is also the smartest nation on earth. Unfortunately our failed foreign policy and inability to master diplomacy has proven otherwise."

America indeed has made mistakes, and will continue to do so. But no nation on earth has a perfect foreign policy to suit everyone. It would be nice though if the career people in the State Department would support the administration voted in by the people, and not follow their own political agendas.

Oh how so many forget that America has always been there when needed, and we've time and again stood up against the despots of the world. Yeah, it takes us a while to come around sometimes, but at least we come around and do the right thing more often than not.

Abdul - author of this post and damned proud to be an American.

Posted by: Abdul at November 17, 2007 9:23 PM

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