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Talking to the Arab world: a lesson learned? (An Editorial from Lebanon)

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Quetzal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 05:51 AM
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Talking to the Arab world: a lesson learned? (An Editorial from Lebanon)
Talking to the Arab world: a lesson learned?

Suddenly, a US president is addressing the Arab world directly on Arab satellite television stations. It is therefore unfortunate that when George W. Bush appeared on Al-Arabiyya and Al-Hurra on Wednesday evening, his message to the Arabs was not inspired by optimism about the region's future, but by a sense of crisis management. In fact, a series of crises, all of Washington's own making, extend from Afghanistan to the shores of the Mediterranean, and is adversely affecting relations with the Arab and Muslim worlds.

The particular crisis which spurred Bush's unprecedented appearance on Arabic-language television channels was the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US troops. This abuse, it seems, does not consist of isolated incidents, since official inquiries have been made into the treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan, the US base in Cuba at Guantanamo Bay and a military jail in South Carolina where terror suspects are being held.

It is late in the day to begin public relations efforts to patch up such serious damage - Washington should never have mismanaged its adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why did it take crisis and embarrassment before senior American policymakers and administration officials, in this instance no less a figure than the president himself, to publicly address their Arab counterparts in constructive dialogue and empathetic respect? The United State's standing with the Arab public, too, would have to benefit, since the image of the US in the Arab world could hardly be more abysmal than it is today.

Yes, it is late, but the world can only hope it is a case of better late than never, and that valuable lessons have been learned. We can hope that people-to-people contacts become a regular element in US diplomacy, that meaningful communication becomes routine. We can also hope that if such "broadband" communication does become a feature of future US dealings with the Arab and Muslim worlds, that it is not conducted in a condescending manner, as a master would address a servant, but in a manner that befits the claimed goals of a world benefactor striving to set an example of democracy and respect for all peoples and creeds.
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ayeshahaqqiqa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 06:12 AM
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1. A poll at Muslim Wake Up

shows that 86% of those responding think Bush's appearance on Arab TV hurt America's credibility.
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teryang Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 06:29 AM
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2. But it was conducted in a condescending manner
Edited on Thu May-06-04 06:40 AM by teryang
"As a master would address a servant..."

It was also rifled with misleading characterizations and half truths.

How well received could it be? A few days earlier his statement went around the world, "Fallujah is returning to normalcy" while video was simultaneously being broadcast showing the American bombardment of the city burning in three places.

His statements in support of Sharon published internationally further alienated the Arab world.

The world could legitimately ask what are the "good works" of the American soldier in Iraq but the propaganda effort was a publicity stunt for American consumption.
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