Poll Shows disturbing world view of U.S.

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by 3rdpath, Mar 17, 2004.

  1. 3rdpath macrumors 68000

    3rdpath

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    #1
    from the l.a. times

    **By Sonni Efron, Times Staff Writer

    WASHINGTON — A year after the start of the Iraq war, mistrust of the United States abroad has intensified, and the ill will toward America has begun to erode support for the U.S.-led war on terrorism, according to a global attitude survey released Tuesday.

    The ongoing study of public opinion in nine countries was conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press in February and March — before last week's bombings in Madrid and the subsequent electoral defeat of the Spanish government, which had contributed troops to the Iraq war. Spain was not included in the survey.

    The study illuminates the widening gulf between the American public's beliefs and those of key U.S. allies — a divide thrust into the public eye Sunday with the surprise defeat of one of the Bush administration's staunchest allies on Iraq and the war on terrorism, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar.

    Although most Americans believe that the war to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein helped in the global fight against terrorism, majorities in Germany, France and Turkey, and half of those surveyed in Britain and Russia, think the U.S.-led invasion undermined the struggle against terrorism.

    Large majorities in Russia, France, Germany, Morocco, Turkey, Pakistan — and 58% in Britain and 50% in Jordan — said that the war had diminished their trust in the United States. But 58% of Americans thought the opposite.

    Most of those polled in Germany, France, Russia, Turkey, Pakistan and Jordan — and 48% of Moroccans — said they believed that American and British leaders lied when they claimed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Majorities in six countries and 48% in Russia said that the United States is not sincere in its motives for the war on terrorism. Only Americans say that they have more confidence than before the war that the United States wants to promote democracy around the world.

    "It is disturbing that Americans are the only ones surveyed who believe the war in Iraq helped, rather than hurt, in fighting Al Qaeda," said Madeleine Albright, who served as secretary of State under President Clinton. "It is also troubling that the Iraqi conflict has caused each of the other countries polled to lose confidence in America's honesty and commitment to democracy."

    The Pew poll has been carefully studied in the past by the Bush administration and various government and private commissions grappling with America's declining standing abroad and growing anti-American sentiment in much of the Islamic world.

    An alarmed State Department also has commissioned its own polls, which have found similar trends to those cited by Pew, according to officials who have seen the data.

    U.S. officials had argued that although the plummeting popularity of the United States caused deep concern, it had probably reached its low point during the last Pew survey last May, shortly after the end of major combat in Iraq, and they expected that it would rebound.

    The new poll did show some bright spots for the Bush administration, such as less apparent hostility in some nations with Islamic majorities. For example, the percentage expressing a very unfavorable view of the United States dropped in Turkey from 68% in May to 45% in this survey; in Pakistan from 71% to 50%; in Jordan from 83% to 67%; and in Morocco from 53% to 46%.

    But large majorities still view the U.S. unfavorably. And although America and Europe share an archenemy in Osama bin Laden, President Bush was rated even less favorably than Bin Laden in Jordan, Morocco and Pakistan — a key ally in the U.S. war on terrorism and the hunt for the Al Qaeda leader.

    Moreover, nearly half of Pakistanis, as well as 70% of Jordanians and 66% of Moroccans, said suicide attacks against Americans in Iraq were justified. Even 31% of Turks surveyed agreed.

    The survey found a significant erosion of U.S. standing in Britain, a development that, together with the Spanish election results, could prove threatening to Bush's most important ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Only 43% of Britons surveyed in the latest poll believe that Blair made the right decision in using force against Iraq, down from 61% in May.

    Support for the war among Americans fell from 74% to 60% in the same period.

    Although European leaders have stressed their desire to improve ties with the United States — and argued that success in rebuilding and democratizing Iraq is in every nation's interest — transatlantic tensions in public opinion are unabated. Growing majorities in Britain, France and Germany want the European Union to be as powerful as the United States and want their foreign policy and security arrangements to be independent from Washington, the survey found.

    "It's a fact, whether we like it or not, that there's a huge problem with the credibility of America in Europe and beyond," a senior European diplomat said.

    The problem is due not simply to the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the diplomat said, but also to what he called the "Guantanamo element" — the view, especially among European youth, that the United States is not the defender of freedom, civil liberties and other ideals that it purports to be. The U.S. has been holding hundreds of terrorism suspects, including European citizens, at its base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, without formal charges or access to lawyers. — some for more than two years.
     
  2. Mark James macrumors regular

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  3. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #3
    But to whom? In another thread, a claim was being made that this set of circumstances was essentially inevitable. I suspect at this point the Bush administration is convinced (and would like to persuade us) that we can't make an omelet without breaking every egg in the henhouse. As nearly as I can tell, this is the only line of reasoning that can excuse the administration's gross mishandling of US political capital.
     
  4. Taft macrumors 65816

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    #4

    Thats exactly the problem. How many people in the US, when they view this data, say to themselves, "What the heck do I care what the rest of the world thinks?" Bush has sold an alarming number of Americans the story that the world and America are safer due to the war in Iraq. As a result, people think we are safer and can easily ignore the fact that the world hates us. If we are making ourselves and the world safer, who care what everyone else thinks, right?

    But what if all this anti-American sentiment breeds more terrorists and violence? What if we lose key allies? In losing allies, is our ability to fight terrorism also diminished? Is our ability to gain support and aid for future, and more necessary, military endeavors damaged?

    The problem is that Americans don't see that the loss of the world's support is probably connected to our security and future prosperity. We can't always go along with everyone else in the pack, but squandering good relationships to fight a war sold on non-existant WMDs is probably not the best idea either.

    Taft
     
  5. jefhatfield Retired

    jefhatfield

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    #5
    america is a great country but without the support of its many allies, america is nothing

    in today's economy, we cannot succeed and stay on top if we are out of step with the rest of the world...if bush continues to go against the world's public opinion, he will help in tearning down what so many americans have built for over two centuries

    it's a good thing that all bush can do is win just one more term in office

    i just hope the rest of the gop is not as arrogant as our president who seems to act outside of the opinion and interests of the rest of this world...we are less the 300 million in a world of well over 6 billion people and there is no way we can exist as a great country as an island

    bush was right in going after bin laden, but this iraq war business was his biggest mistake
     
  6. Sparky's macrumors 6502a

    Sparky's

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    #6
    I think America is becoming the commodity that the rest of the world loves to hate. Who else outsources their jobs as much as we do, or depends on foreign goods as much as we do. I love the article saying that Spain was not included in the survey, and also wonder just who is surveyed? has anyone out there ever answered a survey? where do these numbers come from? I guess I have more questions than the original thread. I am not surprised at the polls but I think that there are many more countries out there that could sway the outcome of some polls if ALL were included. Spain deciding to pull it's troops out of Iraq has only strengthened the beliefs of the terrorists in that now they can threaten and bully around other countries into submission and get them out of wherever they want. So where does it stop?
     
  7. takao macrumors 68040

    takao

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    #7
    after 9/11nearly everybody was on the side of america here hope that those terrorist get caught

    after afghanistan there came up the first with "this will create perhaps more terrorist but it is good for afghanistan and thsoe terror groups and drug fileds need to be destroyed"

    after iraq :"what does america think who they are ? the rulers of the world ?"

    america screwed up completly in the last 1,5 years anti-americanism never was as big as now
    there are people out there who _hate_ america because of their "19th century imperialistic behavior" and i'm living in the center of europe..
    guess how much support there will be in a middle east country...

    the sentences which considered european ant war countries as "the old europe" _alone_ killed lots of support
     
  8. frankzeg macrumors member

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    #8
    This administration's mishandling of what someone called "political capital" will have echoes for decades to come. I only hope that within that window that a REAL threat does not materialize. The ability of nations to assemble into effective coalitions to defeat real and tangible threats has been severely compromised. It takes decades to establish the trust required for distant nations to commit their resources and citizens' lives to something that might be critically important to global peace but is physically distant from THEM. The US has made the fatal error of any leader by lying ( in effect- and being found out) or appearing to be incompetent to their followers.

    We may also ask what the world's response would be to a serious natural disaster in the US (say an earthquake as intense as the New Madrid event of the mid-1800's) or, God forbid, another perhaps more damaging attack on a US city. We are making a bed that others may well suggest we sleep in.

    It is also obvious that this administration has deluded themselves into not perceiving the full scope of these secondary impacts. Hence they seem to put on a happy face that they are still in the right when world opinion has shifted substantially against them. I have to remark on the plight of Colin Powell- imagine being in his shoes having to fight the fires set by his blundering comrades. Seeing your own personal capital evaporating and being trapped into toeing the party line. Observing first hand the damaging re-alignments of political alliances that before were foundations to your whole thought process regarding global strategies. I cannot imagine a worse fate for a thinking individual. Of course I am assuming he is the intelligent man he appeared to be.

    The Republican party had better pray that Bush is defeated this November otherwise they will share in the bitter fallout of this clearly toxic policy concoction (especially with a continued dose for a subsequent four years). Sometimes it is BEST if someone ELSE puts an end to a bad policy rather than the initiator having to continually justify and support it - even if they internally come to recognize the futility of continuing. This is the classic " save me from myself" situation that we have seen time and time again.

    I also find it amusing when people say "we can't leave the Iraqis ALONE why it would be a disaster". This laughable posture reveals the hubris that is perhaps most despised by so many people both in Iraq and the world in general. Those people are just as SMART as we are and are fully capable working out their own problems. We need to get their focus off of killing Westerners and get it back on addressing internal political issues. Immediate reality has a way of focusing the mind- and indigeous leaders will arise ( of course WE may not LIKE them). Could there be a civil war- certainly. I would suggest that it is nearly inevitable. Will many people die? Yes. That is the unfortunate reality of the remainder of the game given the position of the pieces at present. It is not entirely inevitable though. However at the end ( thirty years hence) I would bet that there is a more prosperous, healthier Iraq- with home-grown solutions that THEY believe in. Given the material and political limitations of the US there is very little we can do to make things a LOT better - but our history shows that we can make it a lot WORSE (somehow whenever we intervene corrupt, vicious regimes seem to sprout like mushrooms).

    What is actually pretty amazing is the low level of REAL threats as compared to what was tolerated for decades. We perceive the terrorist threat as huge but in reality it is nearly trivial as compared to the threat of nuclear destruction that was perilously close for over a generation. Within our grasp is the ability to essentially eliminate that threat by removing its motivations- the desire for self governance. After all the only reason we are the targets is that we support the regimes that they HATE. And we support them for the most short-sighted reasons. Given the history of the US it is inexplicable how we end up with these "deal made with the Devil" engagements that have no long term stability yet are apparently counted upon to be there into perpetuity. I understand realpolitik but you don't create a state in which the status cannot change without enomous damage to yourself. Everyone assumes that we cannot live without all that oil- hence our hand is forced. As an engineer it is clear that we could replace the bulk of our need for oil, not wreck the environment and act as the world leaders that we should be if we just had a little DESIRE and WILL to ACT. Unfortunately we will likely wait until an inevitable oil-supply disaster and then have to solve the problem in a clumsy, inefficient way that costs us ten times what it might have had we acted with foresight something above that of a seven-year-old.
     
  9. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #9
    First question: Should everything be judged solely in the context of our efforts at the war against terrorism and Al Qaeda?

    Next: Before the bombings, Spain was set to re-elect the more conservative group; they changed overnight to electing the more liberal group. Is this not a win for Al Qaeda? Terrorism succeeds?

    I've no idea of what will happen next in France, but various Islamic hate-groups have threatened actions in France as a result of the "no headwear" rule for students. If bombings occur, would the French then get into a strong retaliatory effort? What would their public mood become toward terrorists, then, and would that put them into any similar behavior pattern as ours?

    It seems to me that the notion that terrorism occurs only against the U.S. and that we're bringing it on ourselves is just a wee bit off the mark. The views expressed in the poll may be the case, now, about our behavior. But if the terrorists keep making demands of other countries and then bombing if these demands aren't met, what then? If the future polls show a notable shift in attitude, does that then mean that Bush was correct?

    Obviously, I have a lot more questions than answers...

    'Rat
     
  10. takao macrumors 68040

    takao

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    #10
    who told you that ? more then 80% were against the war ... a year ago ...do you think that helped the conservatives ?
    if the conservatives would have won _then_ i would have been surprised
     
  11. numediaman macrumors 6502a

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    #11
    To be fair to 'Rat, the U.S. press has been hard at work giving American's the impression that the conservatives would have won. The fact is that the race was very close, and Spain shuts down opinion polls a week before the election.

    Another thing seems clear, Americans assume their government lies to them. The Spaniards were very upset that the Aznar government lied about ETA's role in the bombing, and were mad that the government did not want to reveal what they knew until the very end.

    Here, Bush supporters do not seem in the least bit upset that Bush has lied repeatedly about Iraq, the budget, or anything else. For supporters of the administration, it is all "us against them". "Them" is not only Democrats and independents, but also everyone else outside the U.S. That is why it was so easy for them to go from saying "Spain is a great ally" to "Spain surrendered to Al Qaeda". It didn't even take a second to think about.
     
  12. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

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    #12
    If al Qaeda nukes NYC and Washington, DC would you continue to support the current direction of the war on terror? Or would you vote to change things to a way that makes us less of a target and less hated?
     
  13. billyboy macrumors 65816

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    #13
    The Spanish premier elect made it clear that Spain would continue to fight against terrorism, so it isnt as if they are going to step out the ongoing battle that every country in the world is faced with today. But what he is saying is Spain does not support the US and UK and Aznar way of battling terrorism in the case of Iraq, because as far as terrorism affecting the West goes, Iraq seems not to have been a threat and has just added to a problem not solved it.

    I think the most shocking aspect of the coalition governments' standpoint is they just do not acknowledge their role in the causes of terrorism. Bush said 9-11 was a declaration of war on the US. I am sorry for what happened, but the reality is the US and most of Europe's governments have been waging various degrees of war on the other sides of the world for decades in a quest to secure their business interests and maintain a flow of natural resources. If only people could think laterally and imagine how they would react if roles were reversed. We need a lot more humility, and have the nerve to step back instead of barging on as though that is the only way.
     
  14. skunk macrumors G4

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    #14
    I couldn't agree more.
     
  15. Thanatoast macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    IMO, this is the number one problem with people. They seem unable to accomplish this apparently mind-boggling feat.
     
  16. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #16
    pseudobrit, Al Qaeda success in setting off a couple of nukes would mean that our present efforts at interdicting their import had failed. I have no clue what change in direction would be more effective against such import than what we're now doing.

    OBL and Al Qaeda seem to me to have credibility as to their desires. They say they hate us, and the hatred appears implacable. They have no interest in anything less than our complete retreat from any form of interaction with any middle-eastern government, SFAIK. I don't think any partial retreat would reduce their efforts to harm us.

    For instance: Sure, the House of Saud appears to be a corrupt bunch of SOBs. OBL wants them out of power and in the cemetery. He wants us out of Saudi Arabia, since our presence is profaning holy soil. So: Do we let OBL determine our foreign policy on Saudi Arabia? That's what we'd be doing if we were to yield to his wishes.

    I said in October of 2001 that we were looking at a five- to ten-year deal, if not more. I've seen nothing to change my mind. And given what's going on in Mindanao, Indonesia and now Kosovo, it could be that we're back to another long-term holy war between Islam and Christianity.

    If what you want, overall, is that those who hate us would quit hating, I don't think you'll get that by some as yet unknown "change in direction". You might get a cessation of killing by totally giving in to OBL's wishes--maybe. But trying to pick and choose among his demands strikes me as a waste of time; I think he's all or nothing.

    'Rat
     
  17. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #17
    Excuse me, did I miss something? Did somebody actually suggest "totally giving in to Osama bin Ladin's wishes?"
     
  18. Thanatoast macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    The problem is, our foreign policy has been to support a repressive regime simply because it's "on our side", which is at best a debatable proposition to begin with. And what in the world are we maintaining a military base in Saudi Arabia for anyway? I guess what I'm asking is, if the policy he wants changed is one that needs to be changed anyway, why not? It's like, "Don't drive off that cliff!" "Oh yeah? You're not the boss of me! I'll drive off that cliff if I want to. And I do want to. So there."
     
  19. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

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    #19
    And perhaps that the sources of those nukes, the funding and expertise to obtain and detonate them would be more inclined to aid al Qaeda. Think Pakistani fundamentalists in their nuclear programme. Think North Korea and Iran, who've been put on the same list as Iraq.

    We should put the safety of the American people above diplomatic posturing? I say yes. I say if we get out of Saudi Arabia and stop affording military protection to the Kingdom he'd have a much harder time convincing people to blow themselves up.

    And what would it cost us?

    Put an end to this grandstanding cockfight diplomacy.

    A change in direction? We're only going faster in the direction that has caused so many to hate us. Our invasion of Iraq has proved what many Muslim fundamentalists have been screaming to the moderates all along.

    It's like if I cried "wolf!" every day for a month and no wolf came, then for the next month I cried "wolf, bear, fire-breathing dragon!" but nothing happened, the townsfolk would generally dismiss me as nuts.

    When a wolf finally shows up next month, though, my newfound credibility has convinced too many of them that a flame-spewing dragon is sure to follow.
     
  20. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #20
    From the Richard Clarke 60 Minutes interview:

     
  21. zimv20 macrumors 601

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    #21
    iow, "bring it on"
     
  22. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

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    #22
    I don't know... I find this situation to be so discouraging. A while back I concluded that the Bush administration was grossly mishandling the war on terrorism, but I did not want to believe they could be so myopic when it came to comprehending the larger picture. If even part of what Clarke says is true, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that the Bush people just don't get it. Then when I see the White House operatives attempting to sully Clarke's character as a response, I have to wonder how anyone can be lower than dirt.
     
  23. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #23
    No, IJ, nobody has suggested in totally giving in to OBL's notions. I'm just guessing that he's not a compromising sort of guy; seems to be all or nothing.

    pseudobrit, no government anywhere, SFAIK, would ever consider it "diplomatic posturing" to continue policies against the wishes of an Al Qaeda. IMO, all governments try mightily to save face so long as is possible. Any sort of compromise with an Al Qaeda would be anathema to any government, as long as there is any other option.

    If we bailed out of Saudi Arabia--an action I would support, depending on circumstance--one message to other countries is that once again it is proven unwise to enter into any alliance with the U.S.

    And if you guys think Dubya and his folks are wrong-headed and stubborn, just thank the Lord that that Mr. Macho of Presidents, LBJ, isn't in the White House...

    'Rat
     
  24. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #24
    If nobody's suggesting this, I'm still kind of mystified about why you mentioned it.
     
  25. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #25
    IJ, people have suggested changing the way our government does things in its foreign policy. Part of the reasoning is to improve the security of our people by reducing the hatred of terrorists.

    How can that be done without considering the wishes of such as OBL? (Or Hamas, et al.) To reduce his motivation is to accommodate some of his wishes, seems to me. I don't see how you could do otherwise. To end his motivations? How far do you recommend we go?

    OBL wants us out of Iraq. Out of Saudi Arabia. Out of the Persian Gulf area. I believe he is in accord with Hamas et al insofar as our support of Israel. Should we end that support?

    Do you believe he will interfere with the teachings in the Madrassahs, where the sole educational effort is memorizing the Koran? Where preaching Jihad against the Infidel is part of the daily lessons? If that continues, will the hatred of western culture ever end? In order to have increased security from such hatred, should we stop "allowing" production of our movies, our TV programs? Veil our women?

    When you start giving in to the demands of killers, where is the incentive for them to stop making demands?

    I dunno. Seems to me there's a whole bunch of "It can't happen, here." going on. Or, "Oh, they wouldn't do that."

    'Rat
     

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