Despite an ever-spewing undersea oil well, another increase in weekly jobless claims, and a nation ablaze with immigration concerns, President Obama has finally received good news. His approval ratings are declining dramatically in the Muslim world. He should trumpet that plummet from sea to shining sea. The last thing America needs is a president that the Muslim world “approves.” Likability and niceness are overrated; a healthy fear and respect are much to be preferred.
Notwithstanding the rhetoric about President Obama's re-booting our image in the Muslim world, and all the fanfare that accompanied his much bally-hooed Cairo speech, Obama's biggest decline in popularity over the last year has come in Muslim countries. In the recent Pew Global Attitudes Project, a majority of the population in five of the six Muslim nations surveyed lack confidence in the president. For example, after a year in office, Mr. Obama has just 17 percent of Egyptians approving of his actual policies - a drop of 21 points from last year. In Jordan, just 15 percent approve of the president - down 12 points over the past year. The lone exception is Indonesia, where Obama lived as a child. A majority there approve of Obama, but even there Obama’s popularity has slipped in the past twelve months.
This is great news. Perhaps President Obama, albeit unwittingly, has established respect rather than approval as his dominant image in the Muslim world. This would be a remarkable, and unintentional, achievement for a man whose own team refuses to use the terms “radical Islam,” “jihad,” and “terror.” How the Muslim world has come to approve less of Obama, who prefers playing a game of semantics to having a real national security policy, is beyond me. Nevertheless, it is news worth celebrating.
The reasons for Obama's decline in popularity in the Muslim world could find their origins in any number of perceptions. Perhaps he lost approbation with his orders for more troops in Afghanistan and the ongoing American military presence in the land of the Taliban.
It is also possible that Obama is seen by Muslims as weak and ineffective, even untrustworthy given his failure to close Guantanamo Bay in spite of his vociferous promises to do so.
Furthermore, given that nothing substantive has changed in America's dealings with Iran or with Israel, Obama again looks ineffective to those who believed the hype about his providing new relations with the Middle East.