Richard Wike, writing for Foreign Policy yesterday:
.... Following his election, Obama made it a priority to change America's dismal image in the Muslim world, most prominently in his June 2009 Cairo speech. And he has had some successes; in fact, Muslim publics still generally give him more positive ratings than Bush received. For instance, in a spring 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project, only 24 percent of Turks express confidence in Obama; still, that's a whole lot better than the 2 percent who felt this way about Bush during his final year in office.
Also, due in part to having lived there for a few years as a child, Obama has consistently received high marks in Indonesia, and his popularity has helped turn around America's image in the world's most populous Muslim nation.
But overall, the picture remains grim. In Egypt, for example, despite all the tumult of the revolution, America's image remains roughly where it was four years ago -- then 22 percent expressed a favorable opinion of the United States; in the 2012 poll, it was 19 percent.
Among Pakistanis and Jordanians, America's already poor ratings have declined further since 2008 -- in both countries, 19 percent held a positive view of the U.S. four years ago, compared with just 12 percent in 2012.
Today's Washington Post:
Wall Street Journal:
.... The closure will affect U.S. diplomatic missions in Jakarta, Surabaya, Bali and Medan. The Medan mission had already been closed Thursday after three straight days of protest. The embassy also said in a statement that U.S. citizens should "avoid large crowds and gatherings that might turn violent."
Elsewhere in region, the U.S. embassies in Bangkok and Manila were scheduled to remain open, as was the embassy in Kuala Lumpur, though a demonstration was planned for outside it Friday, officials at the embassies said....
One of Indonesia's most notorious hardline Muslim clerics has issued a jailhouse proclamation to his faithful: feel free to mimic the coordinated attacks on America's Libyan embassy in Indonesia....
...Abu Bakar Bashir, a cheerleader for violent jihad still in prison for organizing the 2002 bombings in Bali, is clear in stating that the film must be answered with violent reprisals.
In an interview with Indonesian outlet "Voice of al-Islam," according to a translation by the Jakarta Globe, Bashir said that "what happened in Libya can be imitated ... If it is defaming God and the Prophet [Muhammad], the punishment should be death. [There are] no other considerations.”
Now back to Mr. Wike at Foreign Policy -- who, after much dithering, concludes with a whimper:
.... So while many Muslims continue to oppose U.S. policies and remain uneasy about American power, many also want to see their own countries adopt some central features of American society. And that's, at least, a bit of good news.
It is a mystery to me how this man gets paid for writing about foreign policy and I don't. But be that as it may, I gather you're in need of an antidote for all this. Try some vintage (2004) Victor Davis Hanson; it helped me.
We are presently engaged in a world war for our civilization and its vision of a just and humane society. Our values will either endure this present struggle and indeed be invigorated by the ordeal, or like once great civilizations of the past we will stumble in the face of barbarism and lose all that we hold dear.
Across the world in places as diverse as Madrid, Fallujah, Kandahar, Thailand, Amman, and Bali agents of intolerance and religious fascism seek to terrorize and thereby eventually destroy the promise of a free and tolerant mankind. We must be as determined to defeat them as they are to destroy us.
Americans believe that freedom and consensual government — far from being the exclusive domain of the West — are ideals central to the human condition and the shared aspirations of all born into this world. That is the great hope we embrace now in Iraq, that as we rout those who advocate fundamentalism and intolerance, millions of others will gain confidence and join the struggle for democratic change. But until then, even as we speak, millions, sometimes in fear and silence, are watching our present efforts. They are uncertain of the outcome. They wait to pledge their allegiance to the victor, hoping, but not yet convinced, that we can defeat those who would impose tyranny and intolerance on any who would seek to reform and escape from their present misery.
What are the values for which hundreds of Americans have now fallen in Afghanistan and Iraq? They are not new or hard to fathom, nor are they the easily caricatured images of American popular culture. Rather they are the same principles for which Americans died at Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Iwo Jima, and Pusan: the guarantee of free association and expression, the tolerance of different ideas, a respect for the rule of law, and the right to enjoy equality under the aegis of consensual government. So this is what we believe in and this is what we have made it our mission to preserve.