Reaching out to people on a human level was once a much larger part of U.S. policy, and successful in winning hearts and minds. If only the administration would listen to some of their military experts who do “get it”, as per this Christian Science Monitor op-ed:
The number of Pakistanis with a favorable opinion of the US doubled from 23 percent in May 2005 to more than 46 percent after earthquake aid was received from America. At the same time, the number of Pakistanis who disapproved of bin Laden doubled at almost the exact same percentage as those who became favorable to the US.
The effects of American aid in response to the Pakistani earthquake were clear: 78 percent of Pakistanis said that American aid to earthquake victims has made them favorable to the US - a figure that held even among bin Laden supporters.
The data from Pakistan is buttressed by similar findings from Indonesia. After the tsunami, 65 percent of Indonesians had a favorable opinion of the US as a direct result of American assistance, while support for terrorism declined in tandem.
A nationwide poll in Indonesia shows that one year after American tsunami assistance began, and despite the reports on Koran desecration and the eruption of violence over Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad, Muslim public opinion has not only remained favorable to the US, but has increased as a direct result of American humanitarian assistance to the Indonesian people. Indeed, for the first time since 9/11, more Indonesians are favorable to the US than not.