Wednesday, March 17, 2004

More International Attitudes

Remember the recent post here on the attitudes of other countries' citizens to the United States? The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press just published the most recent results in their GAP project which maps out international attitudes towards the U.S., and the news are not good.

The gap between American beliefs and attitudes and those held by people elsewhere are growing. On the Iraq war, for example:

Majorities in all but the United States and Britain (33 percent) said they believed the Bush administration's main interest is to ''control Mideast oil'', while majorities in five of the countries, including France, said they believe his goals included ''dominat(ing) the world''.
Near majorities or majorities in all of the predominantly Muslim countries said another goal was ''to protect Israel''.
Majorities in France, Germany and each of the predominantly Muslim countries said they did not believe that Washington's ''war on terrorism'' was motivated primarily by the fight against terrorism. In Russia, a 48 percent plurality expressed similar skepticism.

The notion that Washington acts on its own without taking into account the interests of other nations was most prevalent in France (84 percent), Turkey (79 percent) and Jordan (77 percent), but even 61 percent of British respondents agreed with the statement.
By contrast, 70 percent of U.S. respondents thought Washington took other nations' interests into account.

It's as if the Americans live in a parallel universe from the rest. Various explanations might be offered for the growing divergence in attitudes, but one that certainly has an important impact is the stance taken by the media in each country, not only in the angle the news broadcasts adopt but also in what they choose to cover as news. I often listen to news on the shortwave radio from other countries. Try it if you haven't done so already; it can be very educational.

One very worrisome aspect of the international attitudes mapped in the survey is the prevalent support for Osama bin Laden in three of the four muslim countries included in the survey (Turkey, Morocco, Jordania and Pakistan):

Despite a reduction in the intensity of anger directed against the United States in the predominantly Muslim countries last May, GAP found that support for both bin Laden and the idea of suicide bombings remained disturbingly high.
Bin Laden was viewed favorably by 65 percent of respondents in Pakistan, 55 percent in Jordan and 45 percent in Morocco. Two-thirds of Moroccan and Jordanian respondents said suicide bombings against westerners in Iraq were justified; for Pakistanis, the percentage was 46 percent.
Even higher percentages said suicide bombings by Palestinians against Israelis could be justified -- from 47 percent of Pakistanis to 86 percent of Jordanians

This is not good. Not good at all.
The survey was taken in February and early March of 2004. Nine countries were included.