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Thursday, 5 September, 2002, 05:58 GMT 06:58 UK
Anti-US feeling under scrutiny
Demonstrators burn the US flag in Pakistan
The US is confused as to why it is so hated abroad

The US State Department is due to host a conference on why there is so much anti-American sentiment in the world.

Man watches a video made by Osama bin Laden
Many Arabs do not believe any Arabs were involved in 11 September
Twenty leading academics from the US and around the world will address members of the US Government on Thursday as part of a sustained campaign by the government to improve its global image.

There is a genuine sense of confusion amongst many people here in the US about why there should be so much anti-American feeling worldwide.

The belief, particularly on the right of US politics, is that the American dream is something most of the world would aspire to if they were only free to do so.

That has led to a sustained attempt by the Bush administration to promote American ideals and values around the world.

Branding America

A former Madison Avenue advertising executive, Charlotte Beers, was drafted in last year to sell the US brand, just as she used to market Uncle Ben's rice.

US President George W Bush
Bush: Displays a "rare talent" for alienating public opinion

Amongst the new initiatives, an Arab language radio station has been launched which mixes pop music with news and comment sympathetic to the US.

But it does not seem to have made much difference.

In a recent poll of the Arab world, for example, most people did not believe that any Arabs were even involved in the 11 September attacks.

So now the State Department has invited leading scholars from around the world to a conference to give their opinions on how to tackle what it describes as anti-Americanism.

Ironically, the conference itself is closed and the identity of the participants is being kept secret - America's image is obviously too sensitive to be discussed in the open.

Alienation

But before it started, the author Salman Rushdie had some very public advice for everyone involved.

He warned that attacking Iraq would unleash what he described as a generation-long plague of anti-Americanism that could make the present epidemic look like a time of good health.

Certainly US President George W Bush has displayed a rare talent for alienating world opinion, right from his early decision to reject the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

And many outside the US would argue that it is American policies themselves that are at fault, not their presentation, however much money and effort is spent on it.


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European probe

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23 Jul 02 | Americas
16 Oct 01 | Media reports
16 Oct 01 | Americas
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