War in Iraq Drives Resentment and Suspicion
A year after U.S. forces invaded Iraq, resentment and suspicion of the United States has intensified abroad, with many people saying the war has undermined U.S. credibility and hurt, rather than helped, the war on terrorism, according to a new survey of attitudes in the United States and eight foreign countries.
The survey, released today by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, found that growing percentages of Europeans want foreign policy and security arrangements independent of the United States, and that anger toward America in predominantly Muslim countries “remains pervasive.”
“Majorities in Germany, Turkey and France — and half of the British and Russians — believe the conflict in Iraq undermined the war on terrorism,” the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press said in a summary of the findings. “At least half the respondents in the eight other countries view the U.S. as less trustworthy as a consequence of the war.”
The results of the survey, which was conducted from Feb. 19 to March 3 in nine nations, appear likely to fuel debate in the U.S. presidential campaign. The Bush administration has challenged the presumptive Democratic nominee, Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, on his assertion last week that foreign leaders want him to defeat Bush in the November election.
The Pew survey found that “large majorities in every country, except for the U.S., hold an unfavorable opinion of Bush.” The survey was carried out in Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Turkey, Pakistan, Jordan and Morocco, in addition to the United States. It has a margin of error ranging from 3.5 percent to 5 percent.
Although Bush had a 61 percent favorable rating in the United States, according to the survey, he was rated unfavorably by 57 percent of respondents in Britain, 60 percent in Russia, 67 percent in Turkey and Pakistan, 85 percent in France and Germany, 90 percent in Morocco and 96 percent in Jordan.
The survey found that Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al Qaeda terrorist network, was viewed with disdain by the vast majority of those polled in Britain, France, Germany, Russia and Turkey, but was regarded favorably by 65 percent of Pakistanis, 55 percent of Jordanians and 45 percent of Moroccans.
In one of the more alarming findings, large majorities in Jordan (70 percent) and Morocco (66 percent) — Arab states headed by pro-Western governments — said they believe suicide bombings carried out against Americans and other Westerners in Iraq are justifiable. In Pakistan, 46 percent agreed with that proposition and 36 percent disagreed, while in Turkey 31 percent agreed and 59 percent disagreed.
Majorities in three of the predominantly Muslim countries held an unfavorable view of Christians generally: 52 percent in Turkey, 62 percent in Pakistan and 73 percent in Morocco. The question was not permitted in Jordan.
Overall, the survey found, “majorities in the Muslim nations hold negative views of the United States, though opinion has softened.” In Pakistan, for example, 50 percent had a “very unfavorable” opinion of the United States in the latest survey, compared to 71 percent in May 2003. Including “somewhat unfavorable” views, the negative attitudes prevailed among more than 60 percent of respondent in all four Muslim countries.
In Europe, the United States was viewed unfavorably by increased majorities in France and Germany compared to last year. In Britain, 58 percent held a favorable opinion of America, but that was down from 70 percent in 2003. In Russia, opinion of the United States improved, with 47 percent now expressing a favorable view and 44 percent an unfavorable one, compared to 36 percent and 55 percent respectively last year.
The survey found support for an independent European foreign policy among 56 percent of respondents in Britain, 63 percent in Germany and 75 percent in France.