Addressing the Global Image of the United States



A panel of experts recently addressed a full audience at the University of California, Irvine during a panel entitled, “Addressing the Global Image of the United States”.

MPAC’s Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati moderated the event by asking Mark Levine, Assistant Professor of history of Middle East and Religion at the University of California, Irvine, to give his views on whether America faces an image problem around the world or only in the Muslim world. Professor Levine remarked that rather than being the Muslim world’s problem or any other region’s problem, anti-American sentiment is, “America’s problem”. Levine added that Americans have been exposed to a large amount of “misinformation” and “ignorance” about the Arab and Muslim world.

Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy, Professor of Physics, at the Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad and author of "Islam and Science: Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality", said that due to the ferocity of America’s military campaign in the Middle East, liberating Iraq from Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship was not enough to quell Anti-American sentiment throughout the Muslim world. Professor Hoodbhoy added, “while America might have liberated Iraq, it lost Pakistan”, referring to the fact that religious groups inside Pakistan gained more seats in parliament than ever before in history by campaigning on an Anti-American platform.

In response to a question about whether America’s image problem is a result of policy or of a misunderstanding, Ian O. Lesser, Vice President and Director of Studies at the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles, told the audience that analysts often ignore an uncomfortable truth about America. “We are a hegemony”, Pattiz said, adding that some administrations have applied America’s hegemony “softly”, and some more harshly.

Norman J. Pattiz, the Director of the United States Broadcasting Board of Governors and creator of “Radio Sawa” and the USBBG’s new Middle East Radio Network, told the audience that Radio Sawa’s mission was a “journalistic mission”, adding that, “we don’t do propaganda and we don’t do psychological operations.” Pattiz said that if America tries to sell its policy to the Arab world, “it will fail”, and so therefore should concentrate on introducing “free media” to the Arab world, adding that Al-Jazerra, while the closest to free media in the Arab world, is a cross between “CNN and Jerry Springer”.

Dr. Maher Hathout, Senior Advisor to MPAC, closed the panel by raising concerns that the problem of America’s image in the world was in fact a “crisis”, and he went on to admonish the audience that we should not underestimate the effect this image could have on realities on the ground for Americans and non-Americans. Dr. Hathout recounted his experiences as a youth opposed to the British occupation of Egypt, and noted that, “I listened to the BBC because I trusted that news more than the news of my own government…that did not mean that I did not want the British to leave Egypt”, referring to the idea that Radio Sawa would succeed in changing the hearts and minds of Arab and Muslim people.



11 Comments

  1. Since when an imperialist power ever cared about its image? Did British or French care about their image in their hey days? No, not at all.

    You don’t get oil by being MR Nice Guy. And all US wants is oil, which happens to be located in the middle east and in the islamic countries of Asia and even africa.

  2. Israel has taken over the United States and is turning it into another occupied territory. Democracy in the US is history. Elections are now rigged. The Bill of Rights has been shredded. Ariel Sharon now runs the government.

    Time to wake up America.

    http://www.nogw.com

  3. Salaam aleikum,

    What was the purpose of setting up a forum with this topic and focus? Especially given the fact that individual Americans exercise very little control or input over events exercised by corporate backed elites? Secondly what are the motives of the people who set this forum up — are you simply trying to put on a nice face and illusionary ideals to American imperial occupation of foreign (predominantly muslim) lands?

    in order for any discourse to be meaningful it has to be open, honest, and sincere. One cannot hope to achieve something if, at the onset, you start out deceiving or deluding others or oneself.

  4. it’s an excellent topic to address, but i don’t think it was addressed well. the point of the article is not very clear to me.

  5. Are you kidding ? Only some dumb united-staters (a person

    that was born in USA) could possibly think about “liberating

    Iraq”!. Every arab (and most brazilians too) nows that USA is

    going for the oil (and Israel security).

  6. Does the hatred of America stem from jealousy? The hundreds of thousands of Arabs that have immigrated to America don’t seem to have such a loathing of the USA.

    Could it be that the dislike of the US comes from citizens of the world that are truly spoon fed news and information of the world? And that news is extremely biased against the US. How do we know that 50% of the Arab world is really against the US and the other 50% is for the US?

    Islamicity has a preponderance of articles that are anti US.

  7. I agree with the premise that

    anti-Americanism is America’s problem. The

    country really has to change its ways, if it

    wants to be loved or admired the way it once

    was. But if it simply doesn’t care what the rest

    of the world thinks, then as far as I am

    concerned anything bad that happens to the

    place is a Damn Good Thing. Bring on those

    tornadoes!

  8. Finally, a ‘real’ issue is addressed. Honesty is the best policy – no matter how painful the “real image” is. The problem is the denial of such image while self-convincing of a different image made up of nothing more than a mask, can and will lead the US to the destructive path of the Roman Empire.

  9. It is unfortunate that most Americans have bought the BIG LIE of George Bush and his cohorts over the justification for the war in Iraq. According to him, the unprovoked attack was to destroy “weapons of mass destruction,” the existence of which is dubious. He further stated that the US was defending itself against an enemy which totally lacked the means of getting its troops to our shore, much less supporting them, and whose armed forces were without a single intercontinental bomber or missile.

    Ol’ George should be named Salesman Of The Year for having pulled off this farce in order to divide the US Treasury among his buddies. So far, the only beneficiaries of the war are Bechtel (George Shultz and Casper Weinberger), Haliburton (Dick Cheney), and possibly Searle or General Instruments (Donald Rumsfeld). Other firms and billionaires will probably soon join them.

  10. America’s values are okay for all. America itself is not.

    One has to see the difference between America as a nation and its values, as it is well explained here with the example of Medias. The central values of America (freedom, plurality, democracy) are perfectly acceptable. But of course no-one wants to be governed by “strangers”. And it is difficult to be hegemonic with the one and not with the other.

  11. Hard to tell if the author referring to anti-american sentiment pre war or post war, but then there seems to be no difference does there?

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