May/June 2005 Postcard
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A Government Accountability Office report released in April criticized the Bush administration for failing to develop a strategy to improve the image of the United States. “Recent polling data show that anti-Americanism is spreading and deepening around the world,” the report warns. “Anti-American sentiments can increase foreign public support for terrorism directed at Americans, impact the cost and effectiveness of military operations, weaken the United States’ ability to align with other nations in pursuit of common policy objectives, and dampen foreign publics’ enthusiasm for U.S. business services and products.”
The press blames deficiencies on shoddy U.S. public diplomacy. President Bush has appointed Karen Hughes to lead his new outreach to the Islamic world, but she won’t start work for six months. I’m astounded that, of America’s seven million Muslim citizens, our president hasn’t asked one to get involved in his new outreach program. If any were asked, they’d explain to the president that the real problem is not public relations. America is disliked because of its Middle East foreign policy. It’s time to change.
The entire world, not just Islamic countries, sees Arabs as victims of American actions in Iraq. They fear more U.S. attacks on other states in the region and wonder about Washington’s intentions.
People view Palestinians as victims of American-supported Israeli actions in the occupied territories—for which Washington provides funds, weapons, and U.N. vetoes, as well as moral support. They watch Americans showing no interest as Israel’s wall and settlers take more Palestinian land.
The world sees soldiers bashing down doors, destroying homes, arresting, humiliating and killing Arab men. They see women and children suffering under occupation. No amount of public relations can change facts on the ground. I demand changes in our foreign policy. Fair-minded Americans will support a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Please call for an end to the occupations in Israel and Iraq.