How’s That “Hearts And Minds” Thing Going?

Ken AshfordWar on Terrorism/Torture1 Comment

One of the reasons, we were told, for invading Iraq was because we wanted to win over the Middle East, and bring them to our way of thinking about freedom and democracy, so that they wouldn’t get all extremist on us and fly planes into our buildings.

Bush said it himself:

The experience of September the 11th made it clear that we could no longer tolerate the status quo in the Middle East. We saw that when an entire region simmers in violence, that violence will eventually reach our shores and spread across the entire world. The only way to secure our Nation is to change the course of the Middle East — by fighting the ideology of terror and spreading the hope of freedom.

It’s kind of nice in theory, but the simple truth is that invading countries tends to make you disliked in the world view — not admired.

And the facts bear this out:

In 2002, the favorability rating of the U.S. among Moroccans was 38%. Now it’s 7%.

In 2002, the favorability rating of the U.S. among Jordanians was 34%. Now it’s 5%.

In 2002, the favorability rating for the U.S. among Saudis and Egyptians was already so low — 12% and 15% — that it basically could not go any lower. And it has not, but it certainly has not improved either after four years of our grand wars of "liberation."

In particular, support for our "Iraq policy" commands 2% of the Saudi population (96% disapprove), 6% of Moroccans (93% disapprove), and 7% of Jordanians (86% disapprove). Those approval numbers are slightly higher — slightly — in Lebanon (16-73%) and Egypt (25-50%).

So rather than make the Middle East more America-friendly, we’ve turned it in to a cesspool of America-haters.

Feel safer?

Of course, the neo-cons have a solution: more of the same.  Bomb Iran.