How The World Sees Our Actions

Paul Pillar uses the Koran burning incident in Afghanistan to point out a broader foreign relations problem:

We Americans often honestly see ourselves as the aggrieved party because we know our intentions in doing some things that have caused controversy were honorable or even altruistic. But foreign populaces and governments often see things differently, and not just because those out to discredit the United States have promoted such a perception. The belief in negative intentions flows partly from having been conditioned to hold such a belief, just as the previous reasons for resentment over what Western forces have been doing in Afghanistan set the stage for the reaction to the incident involving the prison Korans. Beliefs about intentions also flow partly from the belief that a superpower has its act together, that it is capable of doing what it wants to do and that whatever it does is what it intended to do.