From Jon Taplin’s blog, writing from a conference in the UK sponsored by Chatham House:

I’m here amidst a group of the best minds in the UK and the US in counterterrorism, because of some of my academic work on soft power. What is astonishing to me is the almost unanimity (with the possible exception of a US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence) that U.S. policy since 9/11 has done more to enhance the “Al Qaeda Brand” than any other factor.
. . .
Finally, although there is a good bit of skepticism that a black man named Barack Obama could actually be elected in America (visions of the vicious parts Civil Rights movement still are in people’s minds), there is the general belief, that such an election would change “the American Brand” in a way that would be universally beneficial in combatting extremist Jihaddi rhetoric.