Still Losing the Propaganda War

Charlotte Beers, the former advertising executive in charge of improving America's image in the Muslim world, recently spent three days in Cairo talking about mending fences. According to the New York Times, however, "Egyptians who spoke with her came away shaking their heads, saying American officials do not appreciate that Muslims feel picked on by the United States, or how deep feelings run for the Palestinian cause -- or just how heavily history weighs here." Notwithstanding US military successes and PR efforts by people like Beers, "the Afghan conflict seems to have confirmed Osama bin Laden as a folk hero." According to an Egyptian merchant interviewed by the Times, "Anyone who is a Muslim who says 'No' to the United States is a hero. Every day you turn on the television and you see the Israelis killing Palestinians with U.S. weapons. No matter how much the U.S. tries to change its image in the Arab world, what we are seeing with our own eyes is much stronger." According to a Saudi commentator, every scene of dead civilians in Afghanistan serves as a recruitment tool for anti-Americanism. "The whole Muslim world is watching this with shock and horror," he said. "Among the young, new animosities are created and there are new calls for revenge. This is dangerous; this is the atmosphere that creates terrorism, creates extremism."