- By Blake Hounshell
Blake Hounshell is managing editor at Foreign Policy, having formerly been Web editor. Hounshell oversees ForeignPolicy.com and has commissioned and edited numerous cover stories for the print magazine, including National Magazine Award finalist "Why Do They Hate Us?" by Mona Eltahawy. He also edits The Cable, FP's first foray into daily original reporting, and was editor of Colum Lynch's Turtle Bay, which in 2011 won a National Magazine award for best reporting in a digital format.
Blake joined Foreign Policy in 2006 after living in Cairo, where he studied Arabic, missed his Steelers finally win one for the thumb, and worked for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. Blake was a 2011 finalist for the Livingston Awards prize for young journalists for his reporting on the Arab uprisings, and his Twitter feed was named one of Time magazine's "140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011." Under his leadership, in 2008, Passport, FP's flagship blog, won Media Industry Newsletter's "Best of the Web" award in the blog category. Along with Elizabeth Dickinson, he edited Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future, the memoirs of former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
A graduate of Yale University, Blake speaks mangled Arabic and French, is an avid runner, and lives in Washington with his wife, musician Sandy Choi, and their toddler, David. Follow him on Twitter @blakehounshell.
McClatchy reports on the Middle East’s love affair with U.S. President Barack Obama:
The poll of six Arab nations found that residents think that Obama will have a positive impact on the Middle East — a region marked by war, religious disputes, ethnic and sectarian violence — as well as on the United States and the rest of the world.
Obama scored highest in Jordan, where 58 percent of its citizens have a favorable opinion of him, 29 percent have an unfavorable view, 6 percent had no opinion and 7 percent didn’t know.
Saudi Arabians have a 53 percent favorable opinion of Obama, followed by 52 percent in the United Arab Emirates. From there, Obama’s popularity dips below 50 percent with a 47 percent favorability rating in Kuwait, 43 percent in Lebanon and 35 percent in Egypt. In none of these countries, however, was Obama’s unfavorable rating higher than his favorable one.
In contrast, only 38 percent of Saudis have a favorable view of the United States, followed by 36 percent of Jordanians, 34 percent of UAE residents, 31 percent of Lebanese and 22 percent of Egyptians.
Notably, Egypt ranks dead last on both poll questions, but it’s also the site of Obama’s upcoming address to the Arab and Muslim worlds. The country is also the thankless recipient of billions in U.S. economic and military aid.
As my colleague Marc Lynch explains, it’s not an ideal venue. “The choice of Cairo is already being interpreted by many Arabs and Egyptians as proof that Obama has abandoned democracy and human rights promotion,” he writes, adding, “Obama could take advantage of the location to forcefully speak out in favor of democratization and human rights.”
I’d counter that Egyptians’ cynicism about the United States is fully warranted, and likely to be vindicated by events. They understand quite well that, no matter who is in power, every U.S. president ultimately prioritizes keeping its preferential Suez Canal access, maintaining peace with Israel, and having a pliant ally in the region over meaningful support for human rights and democracy in Egypt.
For Egyptians, it won’t matter, except in the short run, what Obama says in Cairo. It matters what America does, and his administration has already staked its position. Here’s Gates last week:
Q: U.S. assistance to Egypt under the previous administration was linked to human rights progress. Is the Obama administration changing or shifting that policy? Did you hear concerns here in your talks about the level of U.S. military assistance to Egypt?SEC. GATES: Well, clearly, the United States always is supportive of human rights, and that is no less true of the Obama administration than other administrations. By the same token, it is important to continue our work and our friendship with these countries. And the position of the administration is that as an example the foreign military financing that’s in the budget should be without conditions. And that is our sustained position.