How Much Damage?

Justin Elliott reports on how much play the Koran-burning story has been getting in the Muslim world for weeks, before it became the dominant news story in the States. This is an important point, and it makes the hand-wringing over the U.S. cable nets’ saturation coverage seem a bit quaint.

The only caveat I would offer is that I’m not sure the Koran burning has been as damaging to U.S. interests in the Muslim world as the American backlash against the Park51 project (nee “Ground Zero Mosque”). I was visiting with an Arab journalist at a dinner this week, and she told me that Arab elites understand that, as she put it, “You can do anything in America.” So the Koran-burning stunt is seen for what it is. But the reaction to Park51, especially considering how much of it was driven by conservative elites in the U.S., has been far more troubling to Arab observers abroad. That’s anecdotal, but it rings true to me.