3 October 2003

It's the US policy, stupid

'Public opinion in the Arab world and Muslim world cannot be cavalierly dismissed,' according to the report, which stressed that the gap between professed US values - which are widely appreciated among Muslims - and actual policy is often too deep to ignore or paper over.

'Citizens in these countries are genuinely distressed at the plight of Palestinians and at the role they perceive the US to be playing, and they are genuinely distressed by the situation in Iraq,' it said.

Publication of the report, entitled 'Changing Minds, Winning Peace', comes amid growing concern among US policy elites about a rising tide of anti-US feeling in the Islamic world.

Just last week, a second task force of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York reported that the rise in anti-Americanism in Muslim countries and beyond was so great that it was 'endangering our national security and compromising the effectiveness of our diplomacy'.

'Growing anti-Americanism means that foreign leaders are finding it increasingly difficult to cooperate with us,' said CFR chairman Peter Peterson, who served as Treasury Secretary under former president Richard Nixon. 'That is a sober and practical reality.'

Perhaps the neoconservatives should have considered that opinion leaders in the Middle East can read the US press. Perhaps they should have factored in the expanding anti-American system as part of the costs of their cost-free war.

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