U.S. Image Among Lebanese Plummets 30 Points

The ongoing violence in the Middle East, which the Bush administration has tacitly endorsed, has sapped support for the United States in Lebanon, according to a new survey.

The latest poll by the Beirut Center found that 8 percent of Lebanese feel the US supports Lebanon, down from 38 percent in January. […]

“Look what America gives us, bombs and missiles,” says [Ghassan Farran, a doctor and head of a local cultural organization]. “I was never a political person and never with Hizbullah but now after this I am with Hizbullah.”

Analysts have noted that as the crisis grows, it “strengthens anti-Americanism worldwide and fuels radicalism in the Arab and Muslim world.” Assessing Arab media coverage, one found that in “the last few days, the main trend has been unmistakable: an increasing focus on the United States as the villain” of the conflict.

Pollsters have documented serious positive trends in Lebanese public opinion over the last several years. Favorable opinion of the United States jumped from 27% to 42% from 2003 to 2005. The number of Lebanese who believed terrorism could sometimes be justified dropped from 73 percent to 39 percent from 2002 to 2005, while the number who believed democracy could work in Lebanon went from 75 percent to 83 percent.

Condoleezza Rice today pledged to return to the region but won’t say when. By the time she gets around to it, the damage to America’s reputation may be entrenched.