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October 20, 2006


William Hallowell

Please check this out:

Here at Public Agenda, we’ve created a new tool to track Americans’ opinions on foreign policy issues, providing a basis for political commentary. Similar to the Consumer Confidence Index, the Foreign Policy Anxiety Indicator provides policy makers, journalists and ordinary citizens with the public's overall comfort level with America's place in the world and current foreign policy.

An essential tool updated twice a year, the Indicator will consistently provide much-needed information on the public’s perception of more than two dozen aspects of international relations.

In a world strewn with violence and highly-charged international issues, Americans are broadly uneasy about U.S. foreign policy. The September 2006 shows the Foreign Policy Anxiety Indicator at 130 on a scale of 0 to 200, where 0 is the most confident, 200 the most anxious and 100 neutral.

Eight in 10 Americans feel the world is becoming a more dangerous place for Americans, yet they're also skeptical about most of the possible solutions, such as creating democracies or global development. Only improved intelligence gathering and energy independence have substantial support, with energy firmly established as a national security problem
for the public.

In fact, the public lacks confidence in many of the measures being taken to ensure America’s security. Less than 33% of Americans give the U.S. government an “A” or a “B” grade for its execution of the following foreign policy issues: reaching goals in Iraq and Afghanistan, maintaining good relationships with Muslim countries and protecting U.S. borders from illegal immigration. And these are just a few of the findings of the survey.

These are some of the other startling findings:

- 83 percent say they are worried about the way things are going for the United States in world affairs (35 percent worry "a lot", with an additional 48 percent saying they worry "somewhat.")

- 79 percent say the world is becoming more dangerous for the United States and the American people

- 69 percent say the United States is doing a fair or poor job in creating a more peaceful and prosperous world

- 64 percent say the rest of the world sees the United States negatively

- 58 percent say U.S. relations with the rest of the world are on the wrong track

Want to learn more? Go to http://www.publicagenda.org/foreignpolicy/index.cfm to download the report.

Public Agenda is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group devoted to public opinion and public policy. The confidence in U.S. Foreign Policy Index is developed in cooperation with Foreign Affairs with support from the Hewlett and Ford foundations.

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Dear Craig,

having read your complete article on the Intermap blog I am still left with a feeling that yours is a very cursory reading of the Lebanese and Arab blogosphere during the war.

Apart from some glitches - for ex. Haitham Sabbah is NOT Bahraini but a Palestinian/Jordanian who lives in Bahrain (which you could've easily read on his "About Me" page and gleaned from his "Uprooted Palestinian Blogger" banner on his blog) - you missed out on the very thorough discussions on such blogs as "The Lebanese Bloggers" (http://lebanesebloggers.blogspot.com) and others.

Your article looks like you haven't done much research into the Arab blogosphere but dropped in during (or after?) the war and picked out what you found interesting. In order to understand the various regional blogospheres you're going to have to wade through months & months of blog archives.

And using single blogs as representative of a whole diasporic community (and no less of the "Arab" diasporic community, AS IF such an entity even existed) is problematic at best ...

All in all, more research and less theorecizing would've been better.

The regional blogospheres are VERY interesting, informative, and - particularly as means to connect people across political and geographical divides - very important. They merit better treatment than this.



Peter H

Lebanese Bloggers has always been critical of Hizbollah and a full-fledged supporter of the March 14 Movement, which certainly represents a substantial segment of Lebanese opinion, but not necessarily representative of all of it. Lebanese Blogger Forum (http://lebanonheartblogs.blogspot.com) gives a more range of opinions.


Dear Peter,

You are missing my point.

I was not suggesting that the LBs are representative of the Leb blogosphere, but that Craig's article could've (should've?) been researched a bit more thoroughly.

The LBF, incidentally, dissolved into a highschool screamfest during the war, causing a few of its members to leave.





To Matthias,

I agree with what you've said. The post about Lebanese blogs *was* short - in part because it was just a blog entry and also because I am new to the study of Arab blogs.

That said, your points about the in-depth discussion sections on Lebanesebloggers.com and on the vibrancy of regional blogospheres are also well-taken.

I think that research (at least in my field - communication) is just starting to recognize the scope of Arab blogs, their place as a bridge between diasporic and homeland communities, and their own norms of deliberation.

Complicating this understanding is knowledge of just how influential these blogs really are. Who do they represent? What fraction of the population do they influence and in turn reflect?

Like I said, I am new to the various Arab blog communities in part because I have been uncertain of their place within the grander scheme of public debate. I have read research anecdotes here and there - but I agree that the project of blog research is very important and requires more in-depth, immersive research.

My own excerpts and selections were admittedly few, though I tried to be as representative as I could. This project is a learning process, and I am acquiring more info about the regional 'spheres everyday. Basically, it's a work in progress and I welcome any suggestions about which blogs you would find more "important" as a location of public debate. Thank you for your criticism,


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