That Might Be A Problem

Shmuel Rosner looks at a new PIPA poll surveying feelings about the U.S. and U.S. policy abroad:

Among countries surveyed, opposition to U.S. naval bases in the Persian Gulf is common and broad:

14 of 20 nations say it is a bad idea, three say it is a good idea, and three are divided. On average across all publics polled, just 22 percent say it is a good idea for the US to have naval bases in the Gulf, while 52 percent say it is a bad idea.

It is not surprising that the countries in which there’s the broadest opposition to an American presence in the Gulf are the states in and around the Middle East. The nays were

led by Egypt (91%) and the Palestinian Territories (90%) and followed by Turkey (77%), Jordan (76%) and Azerbaijan (66%). However, this view is also fairly strong outside the region–in Mexico (74%), Russia (63%), Ukraine (56%), Indonesia (56%) and China (54%).

Obviously, this poll would have a totally different outcome had it surveyed the ruling elites of the Middle Eastern states – and is more a general expression of Arab (and world) anger and discontent with the U.S. than a calculated strategic position. Frankly, an Egyptian or Jordanian would derive very little benefit from the U.S. dismantling its Gulf bases.

Emphasis added.

Obviously there’s some truth to Rosner’s conclusions. For instance, there’s no real tangible benefit one could really see the average Egyptian or Jordanian deriving from the dismantling of U.S. naval bases in their country, and it’s certainly true that the leaders of these countries don’t share the opinions of its peoples. But doesn’t that sound like a problem on the face of it? If the people of a country and that countries leaders have strikingly different views and the U.S. is routinely siding with the leaders, doesn’t it follow that the people are going to resent us? Add in the brutal authoritarianism of the leaders in question, and doesn’t it seem obvious that the people of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan would largely hate us?

He goes on to note that the rest of the world doesn’t much trust the Bush Doctrine:

And here’s what the rest of the world thinks of American democracy promotion:

In both Muslim and Western countries there is a widespread perception that the United States does not support democracy per se in Muslim countries; most think it only supports democracy if the government is cooperative with the US… In no nation does a majority think the US favors democracy unconditionally, though in the United States views are divided between this view (44%) and the view that the US is conditionally supportive (43%).

But the reason for this is largely self-explanatory; the United States hasn’t supported democracy in countries where it has yielded governments we don’t approve of. The most striking example is with the Palestinians, who voted for Hamas in elections we demanded, only to see us refuse to recognize the resulting government because Hamas won a majority. And it’s a bit disingenuous not to point this out in making notation of the rest of the world’s feelings on the matter.