SIMPLY PUT, America's image in much of the Muslim world remains abysmal. Iraq, the war on terrorism, American support for Israel and other key features of U.S. foreign policy continue to generate animosity in the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere. In many nations considered central to the war on terror, the general public deeply distrusts the United States. Even in countries like Kuwait that have long been considered relatively pro-American, the U.S. image has declined.
On the bright side, America seems to be winning the battle of ideas on some important fronts. First and foremost, support for terrorism has declined dramatically over the last few years in many Muslim countries. Fewer Muslims now consider suicide bombing justifiable, and confidence in Osama bin Laden has waned. Moreover, the 2007 Pew Global Attitudes survey revealed the extent to which there is broad support for democracy, capitalism and globalization throughout all regions of the world, including Muslim nations. Support for American ideas, however, does not necessarily translate into warm feelings for the United States. Instead, Muslims believe the United States fails to live up to its rhetoric on democracy, and they tend to blame the United States for the aspects of globalization they do not like.
Much of the resentment the United States faces in Muslim countries is driven by perceptions of American power and fears about how America wields its might. Many Muslims distrust U.S. motives, and they worry that our country's considerable military strength may someday be targeted at them. Even in the realm of culture, many Muslims fear their own traditions may be displaced by creeping Americanization. World events have deepened these fears in recent years, and opposition to U.S. foreign policy has entrenched anti-Americanism.
Fall from Grace