The myth of America’s unpopularity (& the “McCain-Soros conspiracy,” says Iran)

March 09, 2008

* John McCain... is really a puppet of George Soros, says Iranian TV
* People in Kenya, the Ivory Coast and Ghana have a more favorable view of America than Americans do
* Al-Qaeda operative of Jewish origin “killed in U.S. airstrike”

This dispatch concerns America, anti-Americanism, and the American elections and is a follow-up to previous dispatches on these subjects on this website.



1. Adam Gadahn may have died in U.S. airstrike
2. Candidate John McCain “arrives in Israel next week”
3. Samantha Power quits Obama campaign after calling Hillary a “monster”
4. “Who says McCain is too old?” (NRO, March 5, 2008)
5. John McCain... is really a puppet of George Soros, says Iranian TV
6. America the popular
7. “The myth of America’s unpopularity” (Washington Post, March 7, 2008)

[Note by Tom Gross]


U.S. and Pakistani intelligence are continuing to try and determine who else was killed in the U.S. airstrike on January 29 in the Pakistani border region of North Waziristan. That airstrike took the life of Libyan-born al-Qaeda commander Abu Laith al-Libi. Persons claiming to be connected to Pakistani intelligence circles are claiming that Adam Gadahn, Laith’s American deputy, also died in the strike, as did two Kuwaitis, an Australian Islamist radical, and three other al-Qaeda operatives, believed to be from Uzbekistan. There has been no official American or Pakistani confirmation of Gadahn’s death. His pictures remain on the FBI’s “most wanted” website.

Gadahn, whose birth name is Adam Pearlman, grew up in California and is of Jewish origin (although his Jewish parents converted to Christianity). He is one of a small but active number of extreme self-hating Jews or people of Jewish origin (some of whom work in academia) who have dedicated themselves to trying to demonize other Jews and to destroy the state of Israel. I have written about other such Jews of both left and right in previous dispatches on this website. (Gadahn’s grandfather, Carl Pearlman, was a prominent surgeon and served on the Board of Directors of the Anti-Defamation League.)

Gadahn, who had converted to Islam, regularly appeared in videos alongside senior al-Qaeda figures posted on the Internet, and acted as a translator for them. He has not been seen or heard from since the Jan. 29 airstrike.

In one such video, Gadahn, translating for Osama bin Laden’s second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, called on journalists Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker and Robert Fisk of The Independent to convert to Islam.


For previous references to Gadahn on this website, see:

* Al-Qaeda call on Seymour Hersh, George Galloway & Robert Fisk to “join Islam” (Sept. 8, 2006)

* Ignoring 9/11 and blaming George Bush (Sept. 14, 2006)



U.S. presidential candidate John McCain plans to visit Israel next week, the Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported on Sunday.

According to the paper, the Republican candidate will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

McCain is trying to shore up support among the Republican Party’s conservative base, which has been lukewarm to his candidacy but which is, for the most part, strongly pro-Israel.



This is an update to the dispatch of Feb. 5, 2008, titled “Not since John Kerry has America had such an outstanding candidate for the Presidency.”

Samantha Power, referred to in that dispatch, has been forced to resign as a senior foreign policy advisor to Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, after she called Hillary Clinton “a monster.”

Power made the remark in an interview with The Scotsman newspaper. Power was in Britain for a book tour and to help fundraise for Obama among Americans living in the U.K. Power has been an ardent and passionate supporter of Obama, taking almost a year off from her job as a professor at Harvard University to work in Obama’s Senate office. She was due in Chicago on March 16 to headline a fund-raising event for Obama.

She had been one of the people urging Obama to make the United States less supportive of Israel, while at the same time seeking better relations with President Ahmadinejad’s Iran.



This item of mine was originally published on March 5, 2008, on The National Review. Please click here for pictures.

With John McCain clinching the Republican presidential nomination last night, I have already heard three different studio “experts” on three different TV stations this morning question whether he might be too old to be president. McCain will turn 72 in August.

In fact, as Ryan Cole pointed out recently in The Wall Street Journal, some of the world’s greatest leaders have been around McCain’s age, or older. Among them:


Winston Churchill was 70 in 1945 when he defeated Nazism, and became British prime minister again in 1951 at age 76. He then took on the Soviets in Cold War battles until leaving office in 1955, aged 80.


Konrad Adenauer became the first postwar German chancellor in 1949 at the age of 73, remaining in office until his retirement at age 87. He helped forge a modern democratic Germany from the ashes of Nazism.


Charles de Gaulle was 68 when he assumed the French presidency and 78 when he left office. He oversaw the creation of modern France and reached a ceasefire with the Algerian National Liberation Front.


Golda Meir was 70 when she became Israel’s prime minister, serving until she was 76. She took on the PLO after the massacre of Israeli Olympic athletes, and presided over Israel’s victory in the Yom Kippur War.


In 1994, Nelson Mandela – after 27 years in prison – became South African president at the age of 75. He guided his nation’s transition from apartheid to democratic rule until his retirement aged 80.

EACH of these leaders skillfully steered their respective countries through momentous times and each had a great impact that continues to this today. It is, of course, up to each individual American voter to choose who they think would make the best president; but age should certainly not work against McCain, and may even work for him.



... according to the latest conspiracy theory on Iranian state television.

This Iranian TV clip then encourages “good citizens” to turn in any family members who might be working for the “McCain-Soros” conspiracy, helpfully providing them with a freephone number to the Iranian intelligence services.

It is worth spending a few minutes watching this cartoonish video that then suddenly turns into a low-budget Spanish-style soap opera, and then ends as a serious message from the Iranian regime.

What next? The Iranians claiming that John McCain is going to make George Soros his presidential running mate?

(For those who aren’t aware, Soros has spent many millions of dollars funding left-wing politicians in America, trying to defeat the likes of Bush and McCain.)



I attach one article below. Michael Gerson argues, correctly in my estimation, that America is far more popular abroad than U.S. presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have been claiming.

From my own experience from many meetings I have had around the world in recent years, anti-Americanism and anti-Bushism have been greatly exaggerated by certain sections of the media, and are largely confined to liberal elites in Western Europe, in the Unites States itself, and among certain Islamist populations in the Middle East and Asia.

India and Japan are strongly pro-American, as are most people in Africa, Eastern Europe, Mexico, Peru and even Venezuela and Iran, among other countries.

-- Tom Gross



The Myth of America’s Unpopularity
By Michael Gerson
The Washington Post
March 7, 2008

WASHINGTON -- The one goal that unites and explains the Democratic approach to foreign policy is this: America must try – urgently and desperately – to be more popular in the world.

“The world was with us after 9/11,” explains Hillary Clinton. “We have so squandered that good will and we’ve got to rebuild it.” Barack Obama has said that the “single most important issue” of the current election is picking a leader who can “repair all the damage that’s been done to America’s reputation overseas.”

This argument depends on three premises – all of which are questionable.

First, listening to the Democrats, one would assume that America in the Bush era is universally despised. The reality is more complicated.

According to the Pew Global Attitudes Project, the United States is very popular in sub-Saharan Africa, where President Bush has just finished a triumphant tour. (People in Kenya, the Ivory Coast and Ghana have a more favorable view of America than Americans do.) India and Japan are strongly pro-American. America remains popular in parts of “new Europe,” as well as in Mexico, Peru and even Venezuela – though there has been some erosion in both Latin America and Europe in recent years.

Pew’s general conclusion is that anti-Americanism has grown “deeper but not wider.” And it is deepest in “old Europe” and the broader Middle East.

The second premise of this Democratic argument is that American popularity in these regions could be increased, easily and permanently, by overturning Bush policies.

It is worth noting that American relations with European governments have rebounded strongly in the last few years with the elections of Angela Merkel in Germany and Nicolas Sarkozy in France. And the next president, Republican or Democrat, is likely to close Guantanamo and sign legislation to restrict American carbon emissions, mollifying two justified European criticisms.

Yet the tensions between American and European worldviews ultimately have little to do with specific policies. Europe is an increasingly pacifist continent – which is an improvement upon its bloody history, but a source of inevitable tension with a superpower that must occasionally enforce world order. European governments generally view international institutions as a way to constrain American power. Any future American president will continue to view those institutions as a way to amplify our influence in keeping the peace.

And the broader Middle East is an even more difficult case. A close look at the Pew poll shows that appeasing public opinion in this region would require not merely leaving Iraq but also leaving Afghanistan, abandoning the war on terror and ending our support for Israel.

The third premise of the Democratic argument is that global popularity translates directly into global influence. Here the historical evidence is thin.

Few American presidents have enjoyed a warmer embrace than John Kennedy visiting France in June of 1961. French newspapers swooned at the first lady’s perfect French and the better Parisian shops sold silk scarves embroidered “Jackie.” But President Charles de Gaulle remained more interested in the cultivation of French self-esteem than in trans-Atlantic unity. Having withdrawn the French Mediterranean fleet from NATO in 1959, he later ordered the removal of NATO troops from French soil. President Lyndon Johnson (in one of his finest hours) instructed his secretary of state to ask de Gaulle: “Does your order include the bodies of American soldiers in France’s cemeteries?”

Few American presidents have been more reviled in Europe than Ronald Reagan, who responded to the Soviet deployment of SS-20 nuclear missiles by deploying Pershing II nuclear missiles. In West Germany, millions of people marched in protest. American soldiers were surrounded by hostile demonstrators shouting, “We don’t want you in our country.” But Reagan’s unpopular “cowboy” determination helped end the Cold War and lift the nuclear threat from Europe.

And we have seen a good example in our time. The January 2007 decision to surge American troops in Iraq was clearly at odds with world opinion. But retreating from Iraq in failure would have earned global contempt for American weakness instead of global popularity. And the turnaround in Iraq has restored at least some of our standing and leverage in the Middle East.

The real lesson in the years since 9/11 is different from what the Democratic candidates imagine: It is easy to be loved when you are a victim. It is harder to be popular when you act decisively to protect yourself and others.

A successful president should strive for America to be liked – and expect, on occasion, for America to be resented in a good cause.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.