Many Western pundits insist Muslims have an irrational hatred toward America and the West, and lay the blame for this phenomenon squarely on their supposedly strange and violent religion, Islam. If that assessment is correct, what explains growing distrust and criticism, even among traditional US allies?
According to recent poll results published in the Guardian:
Negative Arab and Pakistani perceptions of America as overweening and untrustworthy clearly pose a daunting foreign policy challenge for the Obama administration. The fact that 78% of Pakistanis questioned by YouGov said they did not trust America to act responsibly underlines Washington’s serious lack of soft power in the region as it attempts to extricate itself from Afghanistan.
Attitudes towards the US in the Arab world were nearly as negative. Those respondents in the Middle East and north Africa who said they trusted America were outnumbered by more than two to one by those who said they did not, and 39% said they did not trust America at all…
More Germans questioned in the YouGov survey voiced misgivings than trust in the US. Perhaps surprisingly, in view of past wariness, French opinion was somewhat warmer: just over half of the French poll respondents trusted America, against 40% who did not…
…When asked to select a word they associated with America, a striking 40% of the British respondents chose “bullying“, a greater proportion than in any other country or region covered by the survey. Only 12% thought the US was defined by its respect for human rights. Half of British respondents said they trusted America, and 41% said they did not.
Maybe it’s time to ditch the self-serving narratives and consider the obvious: Reckless, bullying USforeign policies are the primary catalyst fueling hostility and distrust in much of the world, resulting in widespread instability, volatility, and increased violence.
Peter Hart analyzes events in Afghanistan that vividly illustrate this point.
by Peter Hart, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)
The protests and violence in Egypt, Libya and Yemen have caused a notable uptick in media discussions about, as Newsweek‘s cover puts it, “Muslim Rage.”
A Washington Post headline illustrates which lives are more valuable.
Part of the corporate media’s job is to make sure real political grievances are mostly kept out of the discussion. It’s a lot easier to talk about angry mobs and their peculiar religion than it is to acknowledge that maybe some of the anger has little to do with religion at all.
Take the news out of Afghanistan yesterday: A NATO airstrike killed eight women in the eastern province of Laghman who were out collecting firewood. This has happened before. And attacks that kill a lot of Afghans–whether accidental or not–tend to be covered the same way–quietly, and with a focus not on the killing but on the ramifications.
So yesterday if you logged into CommonDreams, you may have seen this headline:
NATO Airstrike in Afghanistan Kills 8 Women
Now look for the same news in the New York Times today (9/17/12). It’s there–but the headline is this:
Karzai Denounces Coalition Over Airstrikes
The Times gave a clear sense of what was important: “Mr. Karzai’s condemnation was likely to rankle some Western officials…” the paper’s Matthew Rosenberg explained, who went on to explain that
the confrontational tone of the statement was a sharp reminder of the acrimony that has often characterized relations between Mr. Karzai and his American benefactors.
In the Washington Post, the NATO airstrikes made the front page–sort of. Readers saw this headline at the website:
4 troops killed in southern Afghanistan insider attack
As you might have already guessed, the killings of Afghan women are a secondary news event:
Four U.S. troops were killed Sunday at a remote checkpoint in southern Afghanistan when a member of the Afghan security forces opened fire on them, military officials said. The attack brought to 51 the number of international troops shot dead by their Afghan partners this year. The insider attack came on the same day that NATO warplanes killed nine women gathering firewood in the mountains outside their village in an eastern province, according to local officials.
One has to wonder whether, absent the deaths of U.S. troops, the airstrike would have made the news at all.