Persistence and Change in Foreign Perceptions of America
Credibility is cultivated and maintained by the clear statement of principles and goals and by a demonstrated willingness to act in ways expected to achieve them. Credibility is undermined by the failure to make clear where the goalposts are located and by the making of threats, drawing red lines, that are not taken seriously and that those who make them probably do not believe. Instead of worrying about negative images over which they can, in the end, exercise little control, perhaps American interests would be better promoted by emphasizing credibility over esteem. In the Muslim world there is much less evidence that the Obama administration's efforts to persuade people to see America in a favourable light have been successful. In Canada and the UK, countries in which there have long existed significant minority traditions in defense of America and in opposition to the prevailing wave of anti-Americanism in elite circles, departing from the herd is not necessarily career-ending.