In Egypt the percentage of Muslims expressing confidence in Obama fell from 41% to 31% and in Turkey from 33% to 23%. Last year only 13% of Pakistani Muslims expressed confidence in Obama, but this year even fewer (8%) hold this view. And while views of Obama are still more positive than were attitudes toward President Bush among most Muslim publics, significant percentages continue to worry that the U.S. could become a military threat to their country.
The Arab world, for reasons both ugly and realistic, was waiting to see if Obama could actually wrest free of the pro-Israel lobby and put real pressure in Israel. And they saw that, while a great deal has indeed shifted in the domestic contours of this debate, AIPAC's control of the Congress and US foreign policy remains impressive. When Netanyahu stared down Obama last year and Obama retreated, the impact of the Cairo speech was neutralized. And that, remember was Netanyahu's and Cheney's strategy all along: to destroy the Obama moment's potential to shift the US back to a more balanced position in the Middle East.
This struggle isn't over, of course. And those who score cheap early victories over Obama tend to discover the power of a long game. But one reason the Muslim world has lost confidence in Obama is because they have every reason to. On the core issues - especially the acceleration of the colonization of the West Bank - nothing has changed. Which is what AIPAC wants, and why AIPAC is, in my view, working against the broader security interests of Israel's most important ally.