Yesterday afternoon, the stage was set: President Barack Hussein Obama, the son of a Muslim, had traveled to Cairo to give his long-awaited speech to the Islamic world, in an effort to repair the damage done to America's image in the region by recent U.S. foreign policy.
Judging by U.S. reactions, the speech was a huge success. But will the other half of the equation, the president's Arab and Muslim target audience, follow the White House's carefully crafted script? Though it is still too early to say with certainty, the U.S. could be in for a disappointment.
To understand more clearly why that is, it helps to examine the reasons for the recent decline in America's reputation. In countries such as Egypt, where most of the population barely struggles to get by, few people have time to think about America, much less the personality or background of its president. The occupant of the White House concerns them to the extent that he makes foreign policy decisions that affect them. If these policies are perceived as fair to Muslim causes, like Jimmy Carter's were, he is liked; if they are seen as detrimental to those causes, like George W. Bush's have been, he is hated.