There is near unanimity that the Obama administration’s Middle East policy is in shambles. At the same time, there is little agreement on what went wrong.
If soft power or greater popularity for the United States were the criterion, then clearly President Obama’s outreach to the Muslim world, highlighted by his 2009 Cairo speech, has failed. The United States is neither loved nor respected. Anti-Americanism is more popular than ever. “The one thing everybody in Egypt agrees about,” writes Walter Russell Mead, “is that the Americans are about the most horrible people around – arrogant, stupid, judgmental, impractical, not to be trusted when the going gets tough. The liberals, the generals, the Mubarak family, the Christians, the Islamists: on this one point they all agree.”