Obama’s First Hundred Days in the Greater Middle East…Juan Cole

Always come to a deeper understanding reading what Professor Juan Cole has to say.

The hundred day benchmark for journalists sizing up a new administration is probably inappropriate on foreign affairs, which are complicated and move slowly. Still, we can assess the changes in approach and tone between the Obama administration and its predecessor this winter and spring, to try to get a sense of where things are going.

Obama has engaged in a number of acts of public diplomacy toward the Muslim world that were intended to change the image of the United States in the region and to marshal for his purposes American soft power, which is among its largest assets in the region. (Contrary to what the American Right used to confidently assert, the Muslim world does not hate "our way of life," but rather loves the idea of democracy and loves US media. What they say they don’t like is a lot of sleeping around and tolerance of gays; in other words, Muslim public opinion is not so different from that of many Americans in the deep red states).

Obama did an interview with al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based Arabic satellite news station, soon after he got into office. He offered a hand of friendship to Muslims, insisted that you can’t stereotype 1.5 billion people with the actions of a few terrorists, and implied that al-Qaeda seemed to be running scared that it had lost George W. Bush as a recruiting tool.

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