We have eroded not only the good will of the post-9-11 days but also any residual appreciation from the countries we supported during the Cold War. This is due to several actions taken by the Bush administration, including pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol (environment), refusing to take part in the International Criminal Court (rule of law), and pulling out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (arms control). The prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib and the continuing controversy over the detainees in Guantanamo also sullied the image of America.And how much success did he have with that? Fred Kaplan writes:
Collectively, these actions have sent an unequivocal message: The U.S. does not want to be a collaborative partner. That is the policy we have been "selling" through our actions, which speak the loudest of all.
As the director of media affairs at State, this is the conundrum that I faced every day. I tried through the traditional domestic media and, for the first time, through the pan-Arab TV and print media -- Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, Al Hayat -- to reach people in the U.S. and abroad and to convince them that we should not be judged by our actions, only our words.
Back in 2004, the RAND Corporation issued a report that anticipated the main point Floyd would later make from the inside, equally in vain—that the key factor in public diplomacy is not what the U.S. government says but rather what it does.The funny thing is, I don't think Americans understood that asking the very question "why do they hate us?" made parts of the world, in fact, hate them more. It takes a very particular form of obnoxious ignorance about yourself to a) piss of so many people around you, and b) maintain a totally pollyanna-ish self-image that bridles at even the suggestion that you might, in fact, be pissing people off by your own actions.
"Misunderstanding of American values is not the principal source of anti-Americanism," the report concluded. Many foreigners understand us just fine; they simply don't like what they see. It's "some U.S. policies [that] have been, are, and will continue to be major sources of anti-Americanism." (Italics are in the original.)