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Professor says the challenge has just begun

Professor says the challenge has just begun

Foreign natives in Salinas offer mixed perspectives

By Kelly Nix
The Californian
Thursday, April 10, 2003

As many Iraqis celebrated the fall of Saddam Hussein on Wednesday, a Central Coast expert said the United States’ public-relations challenge has just begun.
Global opposition to the war in Iraq has sparked deep resentment toward America, a nation long identified with freedom, hope and economic opportunity, said Alan Richards, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
“The United States would do very well to learn from Abraham Lincoln after the Civil War,” said Richards, who has been a frequent consultant to the U.S. State Department on Middle Eastern affairs.
“If you are the top dog people don’t like it if you behave in an arrogant way.”
Foreign natives living in the Salinas area offer a mixed perspective on how the rest of the world will view this country in light of the war.
Patricia Van Laarhoven, a Belgian working as a travel agent in Pacific Grove, said she supports the troops and wants better for the Iraqi people, but said her relatives and friends in Europe believe the war was motivated by oil and greed.
“From the European perspective I understand those who are against it and see it as a bad decision,” Van Laarhoven said last week.
Sandeep Sawheny of Salinas, a 23-year-old native of India who is now an American citizen, said opposition in the Arab world will be hard to sway.
But elsewhere, said Sawheny, who has lived in both Canada and France, people may come around to believing the U.S.-led attack was justified.
“I think that the world will see us, hopefully, in a better perception than they see us now,” he said.
Of course an immediate question is how widespread and long-lasting Iraqi goodwill toward the United States will prove to be.
Richards predicts the “honeymoon” will quickly be followed by Iraqi resentment about the presence of U.S. and British troops.
Referring to the Arab region, “We haven’t done much to improve their perspective of us. Most of the people in that area are 20 years old or younger ... . They don’t like us very much.”

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