Obama Faces Backlash Abroad Amid Libyan Turmoil
Published March 27, 2011 | FoxNews.com
Two years ago, President Obama was cheered in the Middle East and around the world as he toured capital cities on a diplomatic mission of reconciliation following an administration defined by two wars.
Last week looked a little different.
Crowds shouted "down with Obama" in Mali, burned him in effigy in Sri Lanka and, in Spain, brought back a slogan once used to attack George W. Bush -- "no more blood for oil."
Obama's decision to enter Libya in hopes of preventing a slaughter at the hands of Muammar al-Qaddafi could, despite its best intentions, accelerate a public-opinion shift in some quarters of the world away from the U.S. president.
That shift has been under way for some time. Though polls showed Obama's popularity soaring as he prepared to deliver his speech to the Muslim world in Egypt in the summer 2009, that affection appeared to have waned by the following year. International polling conducted last summer showed confidence in Obama plummeting in key Muslim countries.
The U.S. intervention in Libya could compound the public-relations trouble the Obama administration is having in the Middle East. His efforts to jump-start the Israeli-Palestinian peace process have fallen by the wayside, and new violence rocked Jerusalem last week; he has not closed Guantanamo Bay as promised and has, to the contrary, brought back military tribunals in a limited capacity; and the administration has struggled in Pakistan to smooth things over after a CIA contractor shot and killed two Pakistani men allegedly trying to rob him.
As the U.S. aligns with European allies for a crippling military campaign against Qaddafi, it's still unclear whether the broader Muslim community will support the intervention or turn against it.
Though the Arab League gave its endorsement to a no-fly zone before one was imposed, the organization later expressed concern about the possibility of civilian casualties.