When Barack Obama first ran for the White House, a key argument he made was that he could “heal” America’s battered image in the eyes of the world, especially with Arabs, in the wake of the occupation of Iraq and other Bush administration policies. In June 2009, he gave a much ballyhooed speech in Cairo that the White House dubbed a “new beginning.”
Despite this new beginning, the administration has been largely on the sidelines during the tumult in Egypt, little able to affect or even stay ahead of the events. One reason may be that the U.S. is actually less popular in Egypt today than it was during the Bush years.
According to Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, the U.S. had a 30% favorability rating in Egypt in 2006. That is not much to be proud of, but by 2010 it had sunk to a mere 17%. (Pollster Nate Silver has argued that polls show a recent rise in pro-U.S. feelings in Egypt, but the methodology of that data has been questioned.)
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Nice work, Barack.