Friday, May 06, 2005


From Foreign Policy, an interesting interview with Wadah Khanfar, managing director of al Jazeera. One thing that is increasingly clear from this and other things I've read on and about al Jazeera is that the Bush gang has completely misperceived al Jazeera as an entity, and thus squandered any possibility of exploiting an extremely valuable and innovative communications resource. This is yet another bad consequence of this administration's tendency to view critics as enemies, and of its unwillingness to cooperate with anything it can't stage-manage.

This also jumped out at me:

FP: How can the United States improve its image among Al Jazeera viewers?

WK: Through introducing proper policies.

FP: Can you give an example?

WK: Once the people in the street feel that American policies in the region are fair, the image of America will change. Most Arabs look up to America as a source of education and inspiration. They would like to send their children there. They listen to American videos and movies. But when it comes to American foreign policy, that is another matter.

I've heard very similar sentiments expressed by Arab journalists, intellectuals, politicians, and, during my two short trips to the Middle East, a cab driver, a street merchant, and a couple of young guys I drank with at a party. They generally understand and admire America as an ideal, they think we've made something good here, they want the freedoms we have. But they deeply distrust the motives and policies of the American government. This is something that won't be fixed with propaganda.

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