Free Markets, Free People

Arab opinion poll – not good news for the Obama administration

A very interesting poll is out which measures Arab public opinion on a number of questions. Two of them give a damning review of the results of the Obama initiatives in the area.

One question asks: “How would you describe your views of President Barack Obama and the United States”. In 2009, soon after Obama took office among all his promises and in the wake of the Cairo speech, Arab public opinion, as measured by this poll, found 45% to be positive about him and the US, 28% neutral and only 23% negative.

Oh what a difference a year and actually having to do something makes. Now 62% have a negative view, 16% are neutral and only 20% are positive.

On the question of, “How would you describe your attitudes toward the Obama Administration policy in the Middle East?”, a majority of 51% said they were “hopeful” in 2009, while 28% were neither encouraged or discouraged and only 15% were discouraged. Now? 63% say they’re discouraged while only 16% say they’re hopeful.

In 2008, when the evil Bush regime was still in power, 83% of those polled said their general attitude toward the US was somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable. That number is now 85%.

Probably the most telling of all as to the effectiveness of the administration’s foreign policy in the area is the change in attitude about a nuclear armed Iran.

In 2008, most Arabs believed that Iran was pursuing nuclear power for peaceful purposes. Now most believe it is pursuing it for nuclear weapons. When asked in 2008, “If Iran acquires nuclear weapons, which of the following is the likely outcome for the Middle East region?”, those polled replied 44% “more positive”, 12% “wouldn’t matter” and 29% “more negative”. After a year of Obama’s policies toward Iran, Arab public opinion has shifted. Now 57% say it would be “more positive”, 20% “wouldn’t matter” and a mere 21% say “more negative”.

Viewing the results, given the trumpeting by the incoming administration as to how their new approach would improve our image in the area and yield results with Iran, one would have to objectively say it’s been an utter failure.



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20 Responses to Arab opinion poll – not good news for the Obama administration

  • I always take opinion polls with a grain of salt. I view opinion polls taken in 3d world nations largely ruled by kleptocrats and fanatics as representative of nothing at all. I don’t look for validation of my nation or my President or our policies from anyone but my fellow citizens.

    • But this administration does, and if the numbers had shown the opposite of what they do, they’d be trumpeting it from the rooftops as validation of their foreign policy in the area.

  • The Arab “street” is disappointed.  Obama has not delivered Israel on a plate, as they expected.
    Not, BTW, for lack of trying…

    • The Arab Street also now thinks that Iran having nuclear weapons is a “good idea.”  Given that they will be in the middle of most of these possible “weapons exchanges” it doesn’t show too much sense.  The reality of “atomic weapons” (vs thermonuclear) is that these are enough to make a mess, but hardly enough to “erase Israel” (or anybody else) from the planet.

      • Maybe, but a lot of their leaders are much more chary about a nuclear Iran.  If Obama allows them to obtain the bomb, the whole region goes nuclear.

        • Hiroshima had a civilian population of almost 300,000 and 43,000 soldiers. Hiroshima had 70,000–80,000 casualties. Israel has a population of about 7.5 million. A rough calculation is 20 to 100 Hiroshima’s.

  • Obama has not delivered Israel on a plate, as they expected.

    He’s still got 2+ years to produce in that category and this is one area where he is really working hard to provide results.

  • Ah, the dangers of overselling…

    The Dear Golfer and his cheerleaders around the world laid the groundwork for these poll results* both by making Bush out to be the worst man since David Ben-Gurion (hey, it’s the Middle East!) and by overselling Hope ‘n’ Change: The International Version.

    By constantly trashing Bush, they made the US out to be an wicked imperialist power, and US policies to be almost irrationally oppressive.  As far as the left here and abroad was concerned, the US SHOULD be hated by the Arabs and they were happy to tell the Arabs this on a regular basis.

    Then, along came The Dear Golfer, who was made out to be the anti-Bush who would get us out of Iraq and A-stan, make peace between Israel and the Palestinians (mostly by forcing Israel to make a LOT of concessions), and sit down to work things out “without preconditions” with Iraq.  Yessir, The Dear Golfer would totally change how the US dealt with the Middle East, and it would be f*cking wonderful.

    As Americans have learned, Middle Easterners have learned that what The Dear Golfer promises and what The Dear Golfer delivers are usually two totally different things.

    — We’re still in Iraq, and 50k Americans will be there for the foreseeable future.

    — We’re still in A-stan, and likely to be there for a long while, too.

    — We’re still killing terrorists around the world with Predators.

    — The Dear Golfer has done nothing but p*ss off the Israelis; there aren’t really even any negotiations now.

    — Iran has made him into a laughing stock, and now he’s starting to talk tough.

    Does anybody know the Arabic, Hebrew and Persian for, “Soooo… how’s that hope and change workin’ out for ya?”


    (*) Steve C has a point about the accuracy of such polls.  Still, the trends are there even if the actual numbers are not especially accurate.

  • Obama doesn’t care about any of this. Yes, if the Arab world was more sanguine about him, he would use it domestically. But tools that don’t help him are thrown away. He doesn’t care. Just like he won’t care when the Congressional Democrats go down. He will have done a generation’s worth of damage by then. Not to worry.

    There was never going to be anything for the U.S. in his Middle East policies, in any case. Not that that was any concern to him. If my assumptions are correct, there are bank accounts somewhere in the world filled with about as much money as Obama ever thought he would get from the Arabian money men. The opinions in the “Arab street” means as little to Obama as it does to his Arab “contributors.”

    I suspect that there are much larger prizes out there for Obama than the approval of the mass of Arabs. Meanwhile, there’s the business of completing the ruination of America to attend to. That’s nearly a full-time job.

    • The problem with your theory is his growing up in Indonesia with his international leftie mom – this could have given him a soft spot for Islam and poor countries. OR, it could have totally turned him off from foreign issues – he was made of fun there. Its not fun being an outcast. Then again, he flew back there to write his book. I am not an expert on Obama, and I have not read much of his own work or others…do you think the time abroad worked which way?

      • I think that Obama, as a historical figure, most resembles Mao: an ideological thug. He’s taking America to her “Great Leap Forward.” His experience with Islam is only good for conning Muslims, no matter how briefly. And for burnishing his Anti-American credentials. He would be a Muslim for a Day if he thought it would get him something. Ditto for being a Christian. These are all outfits he wears; they don’t even rise to the level of masks. He was bred as a virulent Marxist. The Indonesia experience was just a brief filed under “Another reason to hate America.”

        Obama has found a mental track that he will ride to the end. Everyone here should take seriously the proclamation by the notorious stooge savant who frequents this blog as he proclaims, “Finally a president who thinks like me!” That’s no joke. Imagine the stooge savant come to power in all his emptiness.

        Never ever pretend that Obama can be grasped in normative terms. He is in power and is throwing off the constraints on that power as fast as he can. The imbeciles who relentlessly promoted him for this at the total expense of the truth about who he is and where he has come from are either going to back off or double down, and if it’s the latter, things are going to get rough.

  • Andrew Sullivan, December 2007:

    A brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, who attended a majority-Muslim school as a boy, is now the alleged enemy. If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama’s face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can.

    Now, I realize quite fully that Islamist ideology is not the dominant line of thought on the Arab Street.  But a big part of Obama’s electoral platform – certainly the cornerstone of his foreign policy argument – was that he was uniquely positioned to restore our standing abroad, particularly in the Middle East.  Result?  The Middle East hates us about as much as they did before, and the UK is ticked off.  Well played, Barry, well played.

    • No matter how much the US may want a peace in the Middle East, it will only occur when the players in the Middle East want peace.  No country in the Middle East, save Israel, has a dog in the realization of peace.  If Israel disappeared tomorrow, the remaining players would start to fight among themselves.

  • I’ll forever be perplexed why the hell Americans have an obsession with what the rest of the world thinks of our government, our people, our culture, etc..
    When was the last time you were asked by a pollster what you thought of Europeans, Arabs, or Chinese?  When was the last time you saw a comprehensive poll in which Americans’ views of foreigners was analyzed.  Sure, reporters will show how the Freedom Fries crowd is reactionary or how antipathy towards immigrants is racist, but in every one of those articles I’ve ever read, the reporter presents this via anecdotal evidence or reference to unspecified people holding particular attitudes—never via scientific poll.
    Maybe I’ve missed those.  Until I see them, I think the reasonable response to reading about these polls of foreigners is to tell the foreigners being polled, the pollsters, and the journalists hyping this to all cram the questionnaires into their nearest convenient orifice.
    America, for centuries, has been a beacon of freedom and hope for people around the world, despite the flaws of the original culture, like slavery.  (Most of those flaws have been eliminated or greatly reduced.)  There’s also the matter of the World Wars, the Green Revolution (food crops), most of the technological innovation, modern music, Hollywood, Levis, etc..
    If they’re not trying to figure out a way to get here (and I have no problem with honest, hard-working people coming here to pursue the American dream), or not enjoying our exports (technology, culture, bluejeans), then I don’t care what they think.  They can be jealous of our success, enraged by the (fading) capitalism, or upset at our infidel decadence all they want.  I just don’t care for some smarmy journalist to make them think that it matters.

    • ElliotI’ll forever be perplexed why the hell Americans have an obsession with what the rest of the world thinks of our government, our people, our culture, etc..

      I think that, to the extent that most Americans care about what the rest of the world thinks of us, it’s due to a desire to be liked.  Americans are a friendly people and like other people to like them.

      But the people who REALLY have the deep concern for what the rest of the world thinks of us is the elites, especially on the left.  They are obsessed with whether or not other people like America because they are looking for somebody to agree that our country stinks.  Ever hear a lefty talk about why they love America?  No.  They talk about what’s bad with our country and why it should be more like (fill in the blank).

      “World opinion” is also a handy cudgel to use when the party in power is doing something that the left doesn’t like.  From about ’02 to ’09, we were constantly regaled with news “stories” about how people in this or that country hated us.  Now, not so much.  What’s changed?  Hmmm…

    • I am often amused to listen to round table discussion of foreign affairs where everyone talks about what the USA has to do (or sometimes our allies) but never mentions what maybe the other country should do, too. CATO event podcast on North Korea had this problem – lots of experts saying we should open up to them! Even after they killed 68 South Korean sailors, some lady said that South Korea was too harsh. I was waiting for someone to say something, and a journalist from the Chosun Ilbo (sp.?) took her to task…she didn’t care. No one said, hey maybe the NGO’s should tell the North Koreans that they can’t help anymore because their government does not want help….nope, can’t do that. must keep dialogue open!

      • Another great example is Iran. If Iran really wanted better relations with the USA they could undertake a few symbolic actions:
        1) apologize for the hostage crisis.
        2) stop referring to us as the Great Satan
        These are tiny, tiny steps. No.2 is even easily reversible. But they won’t do that. It tells you something.

        • When it comes to Muslim leaders, my number one demand would be for them to end the barbaric culture of treating women like second-class citizens.  That’s half the freakin’ population!  Next, they need to permit freedom of conscience and expression (so people are free to be apostates, including atheists, without fear of being murdered or taxed).  Stop murdering or punishing homosexuals, adulterers, and fornicators.  If the leaders rescind the laws (secular or religious/sharia), then it’s up to the Muslim on the street to start treating others with respect (not having mobs stone people to death).
          For the Chinese, I’d demand they stop murdering or otherwise oppressing dissidents, stop censorship, and end the communist stranglehold on power.  Stop aiding North Korea and other rotten regimes.  Allow people to freely leave the country.
          Africans need to get rid of their corrupt governments (which isn’t easy, because they lack the history of ever having decent leaders for centuries).  Stop the slavery and warfare.  And, the people who engage in promiscuous sex need to change that culture.  Stop allowing the socialists to set the agenda (blaming whites for all their problems without working towards a free market which can support their needs).
          Europeans need to abandon their love-affair with socialism.  Certain elements need to get a handle on rational ethics.  And, they need to stop being pussies, allowing bullies like angry Muslims scare them into ridiculous concessions.
          Australians need to abandon one of the few pussy attitudes they have: guns.  Quit letting the government bully you into giving up your means of self-defense.
          Canadians don’t need to change too much.  Jettison the anti-free-speech nonsense and the incompetent elements of government and strive to be more free market and less socialist.
          Mexico and Columbia, team up with the US and legalize all drugs to deny the violent cartels their cash flow.

          • Mexico and Columbia, team up with the US and legalize all drugs to deny the violent cartels their cash flow.

            Cash flow into the government/elite coffers….