Damn. This shit is real
(PDF). From the Pentagon's Defense Science Board, clearly a reality-based office. Starting on page 22:
Opinion surveys conducted by Zogby International, the Pew Research Center, Gallup (CNN/USA Today), and the Department of State (INR) reveal widespread animosity toward the United States and its policies. A year and a half after going to war in Iraq, Arab/Muslim anger has intensified. Data from Zogby International in July 2004, for example, show that the U.S. is viewed unfavorably by overwhelming majorities in Egypt (98 percent), Saudi Arabia (94 percent), Morocco (88 percent), and Jordan (78 percent). The war has increased mistrust of America in Europe, weakened support for the war on terrorism, and undermined U.S. credibility worldwide. Media commentary is consistent with polling data. In a State Department (INR) survey of editorials and op-eds in 72 countries, 82.5% of commentaries were negative, 17.5% positive.
Negative attitudes and the conditions that create them are the underlying sources of threats to America's national security and reduced ability to leverage diplomatic opportunities. Terrorism, thin coalitions, harmful effects on business, restrictions on travel, declines in cross border tourism and education flows, and damaging consequences for other elements of U.S. soft power are tactical manifestations of a pervasive atmosphere of hostility.
Although many observers correlate anti-Americanism with deficiencies in U.S. public diplomacy (its content, tone, and competence), the effectiveness of the means used to influence public opinion is only one metric. Policies, conflicts of interest, cultural differences, memories, time, dependence on mediated information, and other factors shape perceptions and limit the effectiveness of strategic communication [...]
There is consensus in these reports that U.S. public diplomacy is in crisis. Missing are strong leadership, strategic direction, adequate coordination, sufficient resources, and a culture of measurement and evaluation. America's image problem, many suggest, is linked to perceptions of the United States as arrogant, hypocritical, and self-indulgent. There is agreement too that public diplomacy could be a powerful asset with stronger Presidential leadership, Congressional support, inter-agency coordination, partnership with the private sector, and resources (people, tools, structures, programs, funding). Solutions lie not in short term, manipulative public relations. Results will depend on fundamental transformation of strategic communication instruments and a sustained long term, approach at the level of ideas, cultures, and values.
The number and depth of these reports indicate widespread concern among influential observers that something must be done about public diplomacy. But so far these concerns have produced no real change. The White House has paid little attention.
There's more (page 43):
We call it a war on terrorism, but Muslims in contrast see a history-shaking movement of Islamic restoration. This is not simply a religious revival, however, but also a renewal of the Muslim World itself. And it has taken form through many variant movements, both moderate and militant, with many millions of adherents, of which radical fighters are only a small part. Moreover, these movements for restoration also represent, in their variant visions, the reality of multiple identities within Islam.
If there is one overarching goal they share, it is the overthrow of what Islamists call the "apostate" regimes: the tyrannies of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Jordan, and the Gulf states. They are the main target of the broader Islamist movement, as well as the actual fighter groups. The United States finds itself in the strategically awkward -- and potentially dangerous -- situation of being the longstanding prop and alliance partner of these authoritarian regimes. Without the U.S. these regimes could not survive. Thus the U.S. has strongly taken sides in a desperate struggle that is both broadly cast for all Muslims and country-specific.
This is the larger strategic context, and it is acutely uncomfortable: U.S. policies and actions are increasingly seen by the overwhelming majority of Muslims as a threat to the survival of Islam itself.
A Pentagon office calling Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Gulf states "authoritarian regimes"? Such honesty, so refreshing! And:
American direct intervention in the Muslim World has paradoxically elevated the stature of and support for radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single-digits in some Arab societies.
Muslims do not "hate our freedom," but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf states.
Thus when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy. Moreover, saying that "freedom is the future of the Middle East" is seen as patronizing, suggesting that Arabs are like the enslaved peoples of the old Communist World -- but Muslims do not feel this way: they feel oppressed, but not enslaved.
Furthermore, in the eyes of Muslims, American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has not led to democracy there, but only more chaos and suffering. U.S. actions appear in contrast to be motivated by ulterior motives, and deliberately controlled in order to best serve American national interests at the expense of truly Muslim selfdetermination.
Therefore, the dramatic narrative since 9/11 has essentially borne out the entire radical Islamist bill of particulars. American actions and the flow of events have elevated the authority of the Jihadi insurgents and tended to ratify their legitimacy among Muslims. Fighting groups portray themselves as the true defenders of an Ummah (the entire Muslim community) invaded and under attack -- to broad public support.
What was a marginal network is now an Ummah-wide movement of fighting groups. Not only has there been a proliferation of "terrorist" groups: the unifying context of a shared cause creates a sense of affiliation across the many cultural and sectarian boundaries that divide Islam.
This is remarkable stuff. The report labels the Bush adminstration is patronizing, bereft of leadership at both the national and presidential level, it mocks the use of the insipid "they hate our freedoms", and notes that we have failed (page 47):
The information campaign -- or as some still would have it, "the war of ideas," or the struggle for "hearts and minds" -- is important to every war effort. In this war it is an essential objective, because the larger goals of U.S. strategy depend on separating the vast majority of non-violent Muslims from the radical-militant Islamist-Jihadists. But American efforts have not only failed in this respect: they may also have achieved the opposite of what they intended.
Amazing stuff considering the source. We may assume that the author will be exiled to the Alaskan tundra in retaliation for the harsh and honest criticisms, but this thing had to be approved at multiple levels before it was published. It's clearly not the work of a rogue analyst.
The report has garnered a smattering of press in international circles, but nothing yet in the US.