After 9/11 it was apparent that we had a problem with our public relations in the Muslim world. One of the main jobs of our government was to figure out how widespread the problem was, and to counter it in any way possible. Obviously we wanted to track down radicals that were plotting follow-on attacks. That was vital. But, in the longer term, we needed to do an appraisal of what caused the radicalism in the first place, and see where we could make moves to tamp it down. I think this says it all in terms of how our government performed its task.

Helene Cooper writes in the New York Times: “A recent global survey by the Pew Research Center concluded that the American image ‘remains abysmal in most Muslim countries in the Middle East and Asia.’

“The poll found that in five predominantly Muslim countries, fewer than 33 percent of the population had a favorable image of the United States. Even in Turkey, one of America’s closest allies in the Muslim world, only 9 percent of the public had favorable views of the United States, down from 52 percent in 2000.”

That, my friends, is an epic failure. And, I have to say, torture is right at the heart of the problem.

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