Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). His latest book is Israel: An Introduction, to be published by Yale University Press in January 2012. You can read more of Barry Rubin's posts at Rubin Reports, and now on his new blog, Rubin Reports, on Pajamas MediaObama’s State of the Union Speech: My Response Discovers Some Curious Insights and Strange Formulations
By Barry Rubin
In his State of the Union message, President Barack Obama began by wrapping himself in the flag, patriotism, and love of the armed forces while trying to highlight his foreign policy achievements. Among his points:
–“The United States [is] safer and more respected around the world.”
Presumably, a lot of Americans will believe this. The United States may be said to be safer in terms of facing direct terror attacks but that was basically true in 2002. As for “more repected”—a phrase no doubt chosen to seem more statesmanlike than saying “more popular,” that is a joke. If there’s one thing that should be obvious (and this is often revealed even by international public opinion polls) the United States is not more respected at all.
Moreover, while individual Americans may be relatively safe from terrorist attacks in their homes, neighborhoods and workplaces within the territory of the United States—a perception partly reinforced by redefining terrorist attacks as something else—U.S. interests abroad are far less safe.
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