15 July 2011

Obama's Game: Inflating Expectations but No Follow Thru

President Obama is in trouble at home and around the world.  The common denominator in his problems is his failure to follow through on the expectations (promises of change) he recklessly excited.  The threat of an expectations/reality mismatch unravelling his presidency was always implicit in his election strategy (see my last paragraph of "How Obama Won.").  Today the effects of this mismatch are coming home roost, as can be seen in the mounting alienation of his domestic political base in the United States by continuing the Clinton/Bush neoliberal politicies.  But, those effects are also coming home to roost grand strategically, as can be seen his plummeting popularity abroad, particularly in the Arab World, as shown in the attached survey by Zogby International for the Arab American Institute Foundation, where he has done nothing to change the Three Pillars of Middle East Policy


Conducted by Zogby International, Analysis by James Zogby
Arab American Institute Foundation
The full report can be downloaded from this link:

Executive Summary   
  • After improving with the election of Barack Obama in 2008, U.S. favorable ratings across the Arab world have plummeted. In most countries they are lower than at the end of the Bush Administration, and lower than Iran's favorable ratings (except in Saudi Arabia).
  • The continuing occupation of Palestinian lands and U.S. interference in the Arab world are held to be the greatest obstacles to peace and stability in the Middle East.
  • While many Arabs were hopeful that the election of Barack Obama would improve U.S.-Arab relations, that hope has evaporated. Today, President Obama's favorable ratings across the Arab World are 10% or less.
  • Obama's performance ratings are lowest on the two issues to which he has devoted the most energy: Palestine and engagement with the Muslim world.
  • The U.S. role in establishing a no-fly zone over Libya receives a positive rating only in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, but, as an issue, it is the lowest priority.
  • The killing of bin Laden only worsened attitudes toward the U.S.
  • A plurality says it is too early to tell whether the Arab Spring will have a positive impact on the region. In Egypt, the mood is mixed. Only in the Gulf States are optimism and satisfaction levels high.