Pakistanis Evidently Think We're Bloodthirsty

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We read in the New York Times that:

Last week, during a visit to Pakistan by Richard C. Holbrooke, Mr. Obama's special envoy, Pakistanis told his entourage that America was widely despised in their country because, they said, it was obsessed with finding and killing Osama bin Laden to avenge the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Yes, we Americans are a bit obsessed finding Osama bin Laden. (Though the Bush Administration wasn't overly obsessed, obviously). Americans believe that there is no statute of limitations on murder, and that murderers should be caught and punished. Apparently, it's different in Pakistan, which is a place well-known for turning the other cheek.

This story points to the limitations of public diplomacy, and to Adm. Mullen's efforts to reform our public relations efforts in the Muslim world. At the end of the day, Bin Laden is most likely hiding somewhere in Pakistan and it is America's duty to catch him or kill him. If Pakistanis don't like that, well, our choices are two: Continue the hunt anyway, or stop the hunt and hope that Pakistanis like us more. I am doubtful about the second option, for the simple reason that in the late 1990s, when I traveled in Pakistan quite a bit, many of its people already hated America rather intensely. There is not a lot we can do to make Pakistanis like us, I'm afraid.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. Author of the book Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror, Goldberg also writes the magazine's advice column. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. Previously, he served as a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward, and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

His book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. Goldberg rthe recipient of the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism. He is also the recipient of 2005's Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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