Bush Succeeds In Uniting Many Against Us
Well, so much for convincing the Islamic world that we are not against them. A just-released Pew Center international poll shows the George W. Bush has succeeded in being a uniter-not a divider. Unfortunately he has managed to turn almost the entire Muslim world against the United States. And very few countries today have a positive impression of the United States or its policies.
The conflict in Iraq has left lasting rancour, with anti-American sentiment widespread and at an all-time high in the Muslim world, a global research project released yesterday said. The study, by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, also found a steep decline in public confidence in the United Nations, with a majority of people, even in countries opposed to the war, seeing it as a spent force.
Although anti-US sentiment has waned since March in the 20 countries surveyed, in only seven countries do a majority hold positive views of the US. In Europe, these are Italy and Britain, where the end of the war saw a favourable rating for the US bounce back up to 70% from 48%. Otherwise, only five other countries continue to hold broadly favourable views of the US. These are: Israel, which leads at 79%, Kuwait, Canada, Nigeria and Australia. However, even these positive ratings have fallen during the last year.
In Europe generally, Germany, France, Russia and Spain have swallowed some of their prewar loathing of the US, but even so less than half the population has a positive view of America. Russia now holds the least charitable opinion of the US in Europe, with only 36% expressing a favourable view.
The widespread resentment over Iraq has also spilled over against America's war on terror, with a hint of scepticism evident in Britain, where support declined from 69% to 63%. More dramatic declines were recorded in France and in Germany, and in Russia, support for America's doctrine tumbled to 51%.
In Muslim countries, people remain overwhelmingly opposed to the US - nowhere more so than in Jordan and the Palestinian Authority where the dislike for America is nearly universal. But even in countries which had positive views of the US before September 11, such as Indonesia and Morocco, opinion is now running dramatically against.
Although most people blame their new-found animosity towards the US on President George Bush - topped by France where 74% see him as the culprit - the researchers from Pew also detected a ripple effect, with people in Spain and Brazil reporting a dislike for US citizens, although nowhere near as high as that expressed by Jordanians and Palestinians.
Attitudes towards America's conduct of the war and its occupation of Iraq tend to follow opinion on whether it was right to use force to dislodge Saddam Hussein, the study found. Most people do not believe that US troops did as much as they could to avoid killing or wounding Iraqi civilians. In Turkey, 88% believe the US forces did not do enough. Outside those countries which actually sent forces to Iraq, only people in Israel, Canada and Kuwait believe troops tried to safeguard civilians.
The continued disaffection with America's grand project for the Middle East is striking in its contrast with attitudes in the US, where it is generally believed that the reconstruction in Iraq is proceeding well.
Although 60% of Pakistanis and 85% of Palestinians persist in believing that Iraqis were better off under Saddam, relief that he has been toppled does not translate into an endorsement of America's reconstruction programme. Only in the US do a majority of people - 59% - believe that America is serving the Iraqis well. Even Israelis are sceptical, with 60% of those surveyed saying America and its allies are doing a bad job in Iraq.
But then, these folks don’t vote, right, so who cares?