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Public Diplomacy and al-Qaeda

Via Matt Yglesias, al-Qaeda’s leadership continues to sweat the non-demonic nature of President Obama:

Al Qaeda’s second-in-command told Muslims not to be fooled by U.S. President Barack Obama’s policies which, he said on an Islamist website on Monday, are no different to those of his predecessor, George W. Bush.

“America came to us with a new face, with which it is trying to fool us. He is calling for change, but (he aims) to change us so that we abandon our religion and rights,” Ayman al-Zawahri said in an audio recording on the website.

It’s been a bad couple of months for Ayman al-Zawahiri. First he calls Obama a “house Negro” to widespread ridicule. Then his former allies attacked his dedication to the Cause and his justifications for continuing his terrorist war against America. (That locution was for you, Rudy.) Then Obama visited Ankara and made a high-profile pitch for new relations with the Muslim world based on mutual respect. It’s like the guy can’t catch a break.

But it can be even worse for him. Bureaucratically at least, U.S. public diplomacy under Obama has gotten off to a slow start. Now, at least, the Obama administration has a nominee, Judith McHale, to become undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, the quaterback of public-diplo efforts. It’ll be interesting to see whether McHale thinks a component of U.S. public diplomacy should be to discredit American enemies. Zawahiri certainly isn’t stingy about providing opportunities to do so.

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