Marc Lynch has been keeping track of the major agenda items at the wide circulation Arab media — specifically, “al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya programs (since they are the two most-viewed TV stations with a region-wide audience) and the content of major Arab op-ed pages” — for several years in an effort to track anti-Americanism and the extent of fragmentation among the players.
He has two interesting findings:
- “American public diplomacy is often better served by standing back, rather than doing more and inserting itself in every issue”
- “[T]he more that a unifying frame takes hold, placing the various regional crises into a single grand narrative, the more likely that it will trigger anti-American attitudes and popular hostility to American foreign policy – even if a sizable portion of the analysis is anti-Hamas, anti-Hezbollah, and sympathetic to American policy.”
So, when they’re really unified in concern about something they reflexively direct their anger at the United States even when they blame internal actors. If that’s the case, it would seem that there’s not a hell of a lot we can do to alter Arab public opinion any time soon.