Letter to the Editor:

In “Run, Osama, Run” (column, Jan. 23), Thomas L. Friedman ascribes Arab-Muslim sympathy for Osama bin Laden to a “cultural resistance to believing anything good about America.” Mr. Friedman does not distinguish between American society and the United States government actions around the world.

In a recent poll of global opinion leaders, including many in the Middle East, respondents admired the United States as the land of opportunity and democratic ideals. But a majority of non-United States respondents said American policies and actions in the world were responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks. Only a small percentage of American elites agreed.

Mr. Friedman and the rest of the American foreign policy establishment wring their hands trying to determine how to change the world’s perception of America. The only way is to change American foreign policy. Reducing United States meddling overseas would lower the level of animosity and make Americans much safer.