My normal lunch time routine involves reading the NY Times while sitting at the bar eating a chicken club or turkey burger at the pub around the corner from my office.
Today I was a little late getting back to the office because there were so many great things to read including two wonderful articles about the middle east and american politics.
One of the articles is by Tom Friedman and the other by Michael Slackman and both are about Egypt and how Egyptians feel about America and American politicians.
Slackman’s piece discusses some of the cultural differences between the US and Egypt and uses these differences to explain why Egyptians are so often offended by George Bush.
It isn’t just that Bush has no clue about their culture, values or norms – it’s that he thinks they all want to be like us.
Instead of listening and learning, Bush assumes all “citizens of foreign countries want to be liberated by America and live like Americans.”
This kind of naive thinking on the part of Bush has greatly hurt the reputation of the US abroad, especially in Egypt.
Fortunately, there is still hope.
And that is exactly what Friedman’s op-ed piece gives us.
It turns out Barack Obama is really popular in Egypt. So much so that merely having him nominated has improved many Egyptians’ opinions of the U.S.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Democrats’ nomination of Obama as their candidate for president has done more to improve America’s image abroad — an image dented by the Iraq war, President Bush’s invocation of a post-9/11 “crusade,” Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo Bay and the xenophobic opposition to Dubai Ports World managing U.S. harbors — than the entire Bush public diplomacy effort for seven years.
Together these two articles seemto reinforce my belief that Obama’s overseas popularity and willingness to talk with our friends and enemies could, if packaged correctly, be a big selling point in the general against McCain.
Given that John McCain’s foreign policy positions are eerily similiar to those of George Bush- I can imagine the McCain campaign is going to have quite of few of these laying around in November: