A Year After Iraq War
U.S. Image Still Poor
America’s image abroad remains negative in most nations, though it has improved somewhat in Russia, Turkey, and Pakistan. Vast majorities in predominantly Muslim countries continue to hold unfavorable opinions of the U.S, though the intensity of anti-American views has moderated.
Opinion of the U.S. in Russia is now about evenly divided, with 47% favorable and 44% unfavorable. Positive views of the U.S. in Russia have risen 11 points in the past year. But U.S. favorability ratings in France and Germany are somewhat lower than last year and there has been a larger decline in Great Britain (58% now, 70% last year). Young people in Great Britain, France, and Germany have more negative views of America than do people in other age groups.
Majorities in the Muslim nations surveyed hold negative views of the United States, though opinion has softened. In all four of these nations, fewer respondents hold very unfavorable opinions of the U.S. now than did so last year. For example, 45% in Turkey now hold a very unfavorable opinion of the U.S., down from 68% last May. There have been comparable declines in intense dislike of the U.S. in Pakistan and Jordan. Strong dislike of the U.S. moderated in Morocco as well, though not as much as in the other Muslim nations surveyed.
An important factor in world opinion about America is the perception that the U.S. acts internationally without taking account of the interests of other nations. Large majorities in every nation surveyed (except the U.S.) believe that America pays little or no attention to their country’s interests in making its foreign policy decisions. This opinion is most prevalent in France (84%), Turkey (79%) and Jordan (77%), but even in Great Britain 61% say the U.S. pays little or no attention to British interests.
In every country except Jordan, there is a strong association between the belief that the U.S. ignores their country in making foreign policy decisions and one’s overall opinion of the U.S. (opinions in Jordan are uniformly negative).
By contrast, 70% of Americans think the U.S. takes other nations’ interests into account a great deal (34%) or a fair amount (36%); just 27% think the U.S. is mostly unconcerned with other nations. Republicans are nearly unanimous (85%) in the view that American foreign policy takes other nations into account, while a much smaller majority of Democrats agree (56%).
Europeans’ Favorable View of American People
European publics draw a clear distinction between the U.S. as a nation and the American people. Opinion about Americans remains quite favorable in Great Britain, Germany and Russia. A majority of French also have a positive opinion of Americans (53%), but that represents a significant decline compared with two years ago (71%). In the Muslim countries surveyed, however, attitudes toward Americans are nearly as negative as views of the U.S.
In Morocco, favorable opinion of Americans has declined by 17 percentage points since last May; in Pakistan the decline was 13 points. Opinion was stable in Turkey (32% favorable) and Jordan (21%). But as recently as 2002, about half of Jordanians (53%) expressed a positive opinion of Americans.
U.S. Views of Europe
The American public’s views of France and Germany, which had turned sharply negative after those nations refused to back the war in Iraq, moderated slightly in the new poll but remain much lower than they were in 2002. U.S. opinion of Great Britain has declined somewhat over the past year, though it remains largely favorable.
A third of Americans (33%) have a favorable view of France, up slightly from 29% last May. And the percentage with a very unfavorable view of France dropped from 36% to 24% in the current survey. Nearly twice as many Democrats (42%) as Republicans (22%) have a favorable view of France. Half of Americans now have a favorable view of Germany, up from 44% last year. But this remains far below the 83% positive rating for Germany two years ago.
More than seven-in-ten Americans (73%) have a favorable opinion of Great Britain, down from 82% in May 2003. The percentage who expresses a very favorable view has also declined over that period, from 49% to 33%.
American views of the European Union are more favorable than unfavorable, though many in the U.S. have not formed an impression of the EU. Overall, 39% have a favorable impression, while 26% have an unfavorable view; 35% have no opinion. Views of the EU are largely unchanged since a poll taken in early September 2001, shortly before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
U.S.-European Partnership Questioned
Despite disagreements with many traditional U.S. allies over the war in Iraq, a majority of Americans (55%) continue to believe that the partnership between the U.S. and Western Europe should remain as close as it has been. Only 36% think the U.S. should take a more independent approach. Opinion is essentially unchanged from the survey taken in May 2003. Only about a quarter of liberal Democrats (24%) favor looser security and diplomatic ties with Europe, compared with 44% of conservative Republicans.
But most people in the European nations polled, including Great Britain, believe that Western Europe should chart a more independent course in its approach to security and diplomatic affairs. In Great Britain, just 40% favor keeping the relationship as close as in the past, down from 51% at the conclusion of the war in Iraq last year. In Germany, more than six-in-ten (63%) favor a more independent approach, up from 57% last year. And three-quarters of the French feel this way, about the same as last year. Smaller majorities in both Russia (56%) and Turkey (60%) favor a more independent approach.
Moreover, half or more of the public in each of the five European nations surveyed say it would be a good thing if the European Union becomes as powerful as the United States. This idea has nearly universal support in France (90% good thing), and is widely embraced in Germany (70%), Russia (67%) and Turkey (67%). Half of the British also believe it would be a good thing if the EU becomes as powerful as the U.S.
Among those favoring a more powerful EU, majorities in every country say they would continue to take this position even if it means that Europe would have to pay the costs of taking greater responsibility for international problems.
Just a third of Americans say it would be a good thing for the EU to become as powerful as the U.S. About the same number of Democrats (33%) and Republicans (28%) say a powerful EU would be a good thing; the greatest support for the idea is found among independents, who are evenly divided on the question (43% say it would be good, 45% say it would be bad).
The EU itself is generally well regarded in Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and Turkey, with majorities in each country expressing a positive opinion. People in Jordan, Morocco and Pakistan express more negative than positive opinions about the EU: Jordan (75% negative/17% positive), Morocco (50% to 41%), and Pakistan (33% to 19%).
Less Enthusiasm for a Bipolar World
Although many Europeans view a more powerful EU as a positive thing, there is less enthusiasm for the notion of another country becoming as powerful as the United States. Majorities or pluralities in seven nations, including the U.S., believe that the world would be a more dangerous place if there was another country that was equal in power to the U.S.
France is the only country surveyed in which a majority (54%) believes the world would be safer if another country rivaled the power of the U.S. In Great Britain, people are evenly divided on this question (42% safer place/43% more dangerous). But majorities in Morocco (65%), Pakistan (61%) and Jordan (53%) say the world would be more dangerous if a rival to the U.S. were to emerge.
Mixed Views of the U.N.
Overall opinion of the United Nations varies widely. Solid majorities in the Western European nations surveyed have a favorable view of the U.N., but Americans are somewhat less positive (55%).
But people in Muslim nations, with the exception of Turkey, have a much more negative opinion of the United Nations. More than seven-in-ten Jordanians (73%) and nearly as many Moroccans (65%) express an unfavorable opinion of the U.N. In Pakistan, opinion of the U.N. in Pakistan is less negative (27%), but 38% did not offer an opinion.
Majorities in Great Britain, France, and Germany say that their nation should obtain U.N. approval before using military force to deal with an international threat, but opinion is divided in the other countries surveyed. Eight-in-ten Germans support the idea of obtaining U.N. approval, rejecting the notion that such a process would make it too difficult for their nation to deal with international threats. Large majorities in Great Britain (64%) and France (63%) also express this view.
But the publics in the other nations in the poll are more skeptical about such a role for the U.N. Views are almost equally divided in Russia (37% favor the idea of U.N. approval, 41% oppose it), Turkey (45%-44%), Morocco (42%-42%), and Pakistan (38%-34%). Though not a majority, more in Jordan favor getting U.N. approval (47%) than oppose it (38%).
In the United States, a 48% plurality believes that getting U.N. approval for the use of force would make it too difficult to respond to international threats, while 41% believe such approval should be obtained. The public divides sharply along political lines on this question; a majority of Democrats (57%) support getting U.N. approval for the use of military force, while most Republicans (70%) are opposed.
America Still the Land of Opportunity?
Americans strongly believe that their country remains a place where people seeking a better life can find one, but people elsewhere are not convinced of this. The U.S. public is nearly unanimous (88%) in its belief that people who move to the U.S. from other countries have a better life here. About half of Russians (53%) agree that people who move from Russia to the U.S. have a better life. In Great Britain, 41% think those who have left for the U.S. lead a better life there (only 6% think they are worse off), but just 24% in France and 14% in Germany agree.
By more than two-to-one, people in Turkey say those who have moved from their country to the U.S. have a better life (50%-19%). Moroccans, on balance, share this view. But respondents in Jordan and Pakistan are divided over whether people in their country who move to the U.S. have a better or worse life.
In each of the countries surveyed, people’s satisfaction with their own nation is unrelated to how they feel about America as a destination for immigrants. People who are satisfied with the way things are going at home, and those who are unsatisfied, have similar views on the lives of their fellow citizens who move to the U.S.
British Support for Iraq War Falls
For the most part, people in the nine countries surveyed continue to support their government’s decision regarding the Iraq war, and this is especially the case in countries that did not participate in the U.S.-led coalition against Iraq.
But there has been a striking change in opinion on this issue in Great Britain, the most important U.S. ally in the conflict. Just 43% of the British believe their country made the right decision to use military force against Iraq, down sharply from 61% last May.
In the United States, support for the war also has fallen 14 points in that period (from 74% to 60%), but the American public has consistently been more supportive of military action in Iraq than have the British. In the U.S., support for the war declined last summer and has remained in the low-60% range since then, aside from an uptick following the capture of Saddam Hussein.
As in past surveys, American attitudes on the war in Iraq are split along partisan lines. Republicans continue to overwhelmingly believe the war was the right decision (86%-9%). Half of Democrats think the war was the wrong decision, while 40% believe it was the right decision. Independents support the decision to go to war (60%-35%).
Westerners See Iraqis As Better Off
Publics in the surveyed countries have a mixed picture of progress in Iraq. Solid majorities in the U.S. and Western Europe – and a growing minority in Morocco – believe that the Iraqi people will be better off in the long run with Saddam Hussein removed from power. But there also is broad agreement that it will not be possible to establish a stable government in Iraq in the next 12 months.
By roughly eight-to-one, Americans and British believe the Iraqi people will be better off, not worse off, now that Hussein has departed from the scene. And by more than two-to-one, publics in Germany and France – who overwhelmingly back their governments’ stance in opposing the war – believe the Iraqi people will benefit in the long run with Hussein gone. In Russia, by contrast, just 31% feel the Iraqi people will be better off. (See overview)
On balance, publics in the four predominantly Muslim countries surveyed think the Iraqi people will be worse off now that Hussein has gone. But there has been a notable shift on this issue in Morocco, and somewhat smaller changes in Jordan and Turkey.
Last year, only about one-in-four Moroccans (24%) felt Iraqis would be better off with Hussein out of power; today, 37% express that view. Somewhat more Jordanians and Turks also say this than did so last year, although majorities in both countries feel the Iraqi people will be worse off with Hussein removed from power.
In all nine countries surveyed, there is little optimism that a stable government can be formed in Iraq in the next 12 months. Just 13% of Americans say this will occur, compared with 83% who believe the task will take longer than a year. Even fewer French (6%), Germans (6%) and Britons (8%) think a stable government in Iraq can be formed in a year or less. Among surveyed nations, only in Jordan does a substantial minority (33%) believe that a stable government can be formed in Iraq in the next 12 months.
More broadly, people in the surveyed countries are skeptical that the war and Hussein’s removal will foster the spread of democracy in the Middle East. Americans are relatively optimistic in this regard – 50% think the region will become somewhat more democratic while 9% say it will become much more democratic. But that view is not shared widely elsewhere, and in several countries there has been a significant decrease in the percentage saying the region will become more democratic. Fewer than half of Germans (48%) say the region will become even somewhat more democratic, down from 67% last May. Declines are comparable in France (15 points) and Great Britain (13 points).
U.N. Role in Iraq Favored
The prevailing view in six of the nine countries surveyed is that the United Nations, not the U.S. and its allies, would do the best job in helping the Iraqi people form a stable government. Roughly eight-in-ten in Germany (84%), France (82%) and Great Britain (82%) express this view.
Fewer than one-in-five in any of the Muslim countries surveyed feel the U.S. and its allies are best able to help establish a stable government in Iraq. But in Jordan and Morocco, pluralities volunteer that neither the U.S. and its allies nor the U.N. can do best in helping Iraqis form a stable government (49% Jordan, 34% Morocco). This is consistent with the low regard people in both countries have for the U.N: 73% of Jordanians and 65% of Moroccans have an unfavorable opinion of the United Nations.
The American public is split along partisan lines over this question. Overall, 46% believe the U.N. can do the best job of establishing a stable government in Iraq, while 42% say the U.S. and its allies. Republicans, by more than two-to-one (66%-29%) think the U.S. and its allies can do best in helping the Iraqis establish a stable government. By nearly as wide a margin (59%-24%), Democrats feel the United Nations can do best in this task.
Rebuilding Efforts Poorly Rated
Outside of the United States, people in the surveyed countries give the U.S. and its allies poor marks for addressing the needs of the Iraqi people as they rebuild the country. Even among Americans, there has been a decline in the percentage who rates those efforts as excellent or good (50% now, 59% in May 2003).
Fewer people in Great Britain and France also give the allies a positive rating for addressing the needs of the Iraqi people as they rebuild the country. In Great Britain, just 30% rate those efforts as excellent or good, down from 41% last year; there has been a comparable decline in France (35% now, 45% last year).
There has been a modest rise in the number of Jordanians who say the U.S. and the allies have done at least a good job in this regard; 27% express that view now, compared with 17% a year ago. Still, most Jordanians (65%) say the allies have done a fair or poor job in addressing the needs of Iraqis in the rebuilding effort. Fewer than one-in-five in the other Muslim nations surveyed – Turkey (16%), Morocco (16%) and Pakistan (10%) – believe the U.S. and its allies have done a good job in meeting the needs of the Iraqi people.
War Hurt Terrorism Fight
In every country except the United States more people say the war in Iraq has hurt the fight against terrorism than say it has helped.2 Fully two-thirds of Moroccans (67%) say military action in Iraq has done more harm than good in this regard, as do solid majorities in Germany (58%), Pakistan (57%), Turkey (56%) and France (55%).
Even in Great Britain, 50% say the war in Iraq hurt the broader struggle against terrorism while just 36% say it helped the war on terrorism. As on other questions related to Iraq, Americans take a very different view. By more than two-to-one (62%-28%), Americans say the war in Iraq helped, not hurt the war on terror.
Republicans overwhelmingly believe the war in Iraq helped the war on terrorism (82%) as do most independents (62%). Democrats are divided on this issue: 46% say the war helped in the overall fight against terrorism while 42% disagree.
Confidence in U.S. Undermined
At least half the people in countries other than the U.S. say as a result of the war in Iraq they have less confidence that the United States is trustworthy. Similarly, majorities in all eight of these countries say they have less confidence that the U.S. wants to promote democracy globally.
The erosion of confidence in the U.S. – in its trustworthiness and its commitment to promote democracy – is particularly apparent in Germany and France. Compared with the other countries surveyed, more people in Germany and France say as a consequence of the war they have less confidence that the U.S. is trustworthy (82% Germany, 78% France).
And nearly eight-in-ten French respondents (78%) – a higher percentage than any other country surveyed – say that because of the war they have less confidence that the U.S. is intent on promoting democracy around the world. Seven-in-ten Germans agree.
The British express more confidence in the United States on these issues than do people in other nations, with about four-in-ten (41%) saying that as a consequence of the war they have more confidence that the U.S. wants to promote democracy globally; slightly more British (45%) say they have less confidence that the U.S. is intent on promoting democracy. But the British take a far more negative view of U.S. trustworthiness. Just 24% say they have more confidence that the U.S. is trustworthy as a result of the war while 58% say they have less confidence.
In that regard, solid majorities in six of the nine countries surveyed say that U.S. and British leaders’ prewar assertions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction were made mostly because the leaders “lied to provide a reason for invading Iraq,” rather than because the leaders “were themselves misinformed by bad intelligence.”
This view is most pervasive in France – more than eight-in-ten respondents (82%) say U.S. and British leaders mostly lied in claiming Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. Yet it also is widely held in Germany (69%), Jordan (69%), Turkey (66%) and Russia (61%). And even in Great Britain, roughly four-in-ten (41%) express the opinion that the leaders mostly lied, while somewhat more (48%) say they were mostly misinformed by bad intelligence.
Moreover, the dominant view among respondents who believe that U.S. and British leaders lied in their prewar weapons claims is that the leaders knew Iraq had no weapons, rather than that they chose to believe only the intelligence that bolstered their case for war. Half of all respondents in France say that the U.S. knew that Iraq had no weapons, and roughly four-in-ten in Turkey (44%), Pakistan (43%) and Russia (40%) also believe that U.S. and British leaders knew that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction.
Americans, by contrast, are much more inclined to give leaders of the two countries the benefit of the doubt in the WMD controversy. About half (49%) attribute the erroneous claims that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction to bad intelligence, while 31% say it was mostly because the U.S. and British leaders lied. Relatively few Americans (9%) say U.S. and British leaders knew that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction prior to the war.
As might be expected, this issue is politically divisive: most Republicans (65%) say U.S. and British leaders were mostly misinformed by bad intelligence while a plurality of Democrats (48%) thinks the leaders mostly lied to provide a rationale for the war.
Little ‘Shock and Awe’
In the United States, people overwhelmingly believe the war in Iraq showed the American military to be stronger than they expected. But that view is not widely shared elsewhere – majorities in Germany (61%), Turkey (56%) and France (53%) say that the war in Iraq showed the U.S. to be weaker than they expected.
However, nearly half of those in Morocco and Jordan (48%, 47%) say the U.S. military showed itself to be stronger as a result of the war. A plurality in Great Britain (46%) also views the U.S. military as stronger as a consequence of the war. Even so, about a third of British respondents (32%) say the U.S. military was weaker than they anticipated.
Flagging Support for Terrorism War
While support for the war on terrorism remains firm in America, opposition to U.S.-led efforts to fight terrorism are significant in many of the European and Muslim nations surveyed.
In France, nearly as many say they oppose the US-led war on terrorism (47%) as favor it (50%), while 55% in Germany support the war on terrorism. In both France and Germany, this reflects a continuing decline in public support for the war on terrorism over the past two years. Among the French, support for U.S. terrorism policies dropped from 75% in the summer of 2002 to 60% following the war in Iraq to 50% today. The pattern in Germany is similar (from 70% to 60% to 55% over the same time period).
Clear majorities in Jordan (78%), Morocco (66%), Pakistan (60%) and Turkey (56%) oppose America’s war on terrorism. Opposition to the anti-terrorism campaign in these countries is not as universal as it was last year, but remains widespread. For example, in Jordan, fully 97% opposed the war on terrorism immediately after the war last May, with just 2% in favor. Today, 78% still oppose the U.S. on this front, but 12% are in favor.
Aside from the United States, support for the war on terrorism is strongest in Great Britain and Russia. The British favor the war on terrorism by a 63% to 30% margin, and the Russians by an even stronger 73% to 20% margin, nearly as high as the 81% support for the war on terrorism in the U.S. In contrast with France and Germany, British support for the U.S.-led war on terrorism has remained relatively stable over the past two years. In Russia, support for the American war on terrorism dropped significantly immediately following the war, but support has surged 22 points over the past year.
Public support and opposition to U.S. anti-terrorism policies are closely linked to evaluations of the seriousness of the terrorist threat. In the U.S., Great Britain, and Russia, where majorities favor the war on terrorism, most people believe the U.S. is right to be so concerned about the threat of international terrorism. In Pakistan, Jordan, Turkey and Morocco, where most oppose the war on terrorism, the prevailing view is that the U.S. is overreacting to the terrorist threat.
In France and Germany, there has been a sharp rise in the number of people who say the U.S. is overreacting to the threat of terrorism, which is consistent with the decline in support for the war on terrorism. The percentage of French respondents who believe the U.S. has reacted excessively to the terrorist threat has nearly doubled since April 2002 (from 30% to 57%). The shift among Germans has been less pronounced, though substantial (from 33% to 49%). Even in Great Britain, the proportion saying the U.S. has overreacted has risen from 20% to 33% over the past two years.
U.S. Motives Questioned
Majorities in six of the nine countries surveyed do not believe that the U.S.-led war on terrorism is a sincere effort to reduce international terrorism. And even in Russia and Great Britain, where there is strong support for the fight against terrorism, many people are skeptical of U.S. motives.
By more than two-to-one (65%-29%), Germans doubt the sincerity of the U.S.-led war on terrorism; the margin is nearly as large in France (61%-35%). There is even more skepticism of the motives for the war on terrorism in predominantly Muslim countries. By wide margins, the publics of Turkey, Morocco, Jordan and Pakistan question America’s sincerity in this effort. In Pakistan, just 6% see the effort as a genuine attempt to reduce international terrorism, while 58% say it is not.
A narrow majority of British respondents (51%) say the war on terrorism is a sincere effort by the U.S. to counter international terrorism while 41% disagree. Most Russians support the war on terrorism, but nearly half of Russians (48%) say it is not a sincere attempt to reduce international terrorism.
Two-thirds of Americans (67%) believe the war on terrorism is a sincere effort to reduce the threat while 25% disagree. By about ten-to-one (88%-9%), Republicans view the war on terrorism as a genuine attempt to reduce terrorism, but Democrats are somewhat divided – 52% say it is a sincere anti-terrorism effort, 38% disagree.
It’s About Oil
When people who express doubts about U.S. sincerity in the terrorism effort are asked about other possible reasons for the war on terrorism, oil is mentioned most often as a U.S. motive for the policy. Majorities in seven of the nine nations surveyed believe that controlling Mideast oil supplies is an important reason why the U.S. is conducting the war on terrorism. This view is not only widespread in Jordan (71%), Morocco (63%) and Pakistan (54%), but also in Turkey (64%), Germany (60%) and France (58%).
While Russians strongly back the war on terrorism, half of Russians (51%) say controlling oil is an important U.S. motivation. Great Britain and the U.S., where relatively few doubt America’s sincerity in the first place, are the only countries where relatively small minorities hold this opinion (33% in Great Britain, 18% in U.S.).
Majorities in five of the nine countries surveyed say that the U.S. is conducting the war on terrorism in order to dominate the world. This view is particularly widespread in Jordan (61%), Turkey (61%) and Morocco (60%). But roughly half of the French (53%) and Germans (47%) also believe that world domination is an important factor in the U.S. fight against terrorism.
Large percentages of people in predominantly Muslim countries also believe the anti-terrorism effort is driven by the desire of the U.S. to protect Israel. Seven-in-ten Jordanians hold this view, about as many as see the war as an attempt by the United States to control oil in the Middle East (71%). A majority of people in Morocco (54%) and slightly fewer in Turkey (45%) and Pakistan (44%) also see protecting Israel as an important reason for America’s actions.
About half of respondents in the four Muslim countries surveyed – and roughly four-in-ten in France and Germany – also say the U.S. is conducting the war on terrorism to target unfriendly Muslim governments and groups. For the most part, however, this is not mentioned as frequently by Muslim publics as other possible U.S. motives. In Jordan, for example, 53% say the U.S. is waging the war to target unfriendly Muslim governments; significantly more Jordanians see the anti-terrorism campaign driven by America’s desire to control oil supplies in the Middle East and to protect Israel.
The nine countries surveyed fall into three main groups when it comes to opinion about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. In the United States, there is significantly more sympathy for Israel than for the Palestinians – by a margin of roughly four-to-one (46% vs. 12%). This has been the case fairly consistently over the past decade.
In Russia, Germany, Great Britain and France, public opinion is much more divided, with a large proportion sympathizing with neither side. In Russia, 23% side with Israel, 14% with the Palestinians and a plurality of 34% say they sympathize with neither side. Sympathy for the Palestinian position has declined somewhat among the French. Two years ago, 36% sided with the Palestinians in the conflict. Today 28% do, while support for Israel has remained unchanged. German and British attitudes on the conflict have remained largely unchanged from two years ago.
In the predominantly Muslim nations surveyed, people side with the Palestinians over Israel by lop-sided margins. In Pakistan, Jordan and Morocco, virtually no one sides with Israel. Opinion in Turkey is somewhat less uniform, though people sympathize with the Palestinians by about ten-to-one (63%-6%); 16% of Turks say they sympathize with neither side in the conflict.
Justifying Suicide Bombings
Generally, people in the largely Muslim nations surveyed are divided over whether suicide bombings and other violence against civilian targets are justified in order to defend Islam against its enemies. Fully three-quarters of those interviewed in Turkey (76%) say such attacks are rarely or never justified. But more people in Pakistan and Morocco say suicide attacks in the defense of Islam are justifiable: roughly four-in-ten in each country say these attacks are often or sometimes justified (41% Pakistan, 40% Morocco).
There is broader agreement that suicide attacks in specific circumstances – against Americans and other Westerners in Iraq, and by Palestinians against Israeli citizens – are justified. Large majorities in Jordan (70%) and Morocco (66%) believe suicide bombings carried out against Americans and other Westerners in Iraq are justifiable. Nearly half of those in Pakistan agree (46%), while 36% say such attacks are not justifiable. In Turkey, most respondents (59%) feel attacks against Americans in Iraq are not justified, but about three-in-ten (31%) say that they are.
A similar pattern is evident in opinion on the question of whether suicide bombings by Palestinians against Israelis are justified. Support for this idea is especially widespread in Jordan and Morocco, where 86% and 74%, respectively, condone Palestinian suicide attacks. As with attacks against Americans in Iraq, Pakistanis are more divided, with 47% saying Palestinian bombings are justifiable, and 36% saying they are not. In Turkey, the weight of public opinion is against Palestinian violence – 24% say Palestinian suicide bombings are justifiable, while two-thirds say they are not.
There is little evidence of a generational divide among Muslims in opinion about the U.S. or the use of violence against Americans. In Turkey, Pakistan, Jordan and Morocco, older people are just as likely as the young to view America unfavorably, and are just as likely to say that suicide bombings against Americans and other Westerners in Iraq are justifiable. In Pakistan, people age 50 and older express somewhat greater hostility toward American than those under age 50. Six-in-ten older Pakistanis say suicide attacks against Americans in Iraq are justifiable, compared with just 44% of those who are younger.
In Turkey and Pakistan, there is a significant gender gap in attitudes toward suicide attacks. In both countries, men are roughly twice as likely as women to say such violence against Americans and other Westerners in Iraq is justifiable. Four-in-ten Turkish men take this view, compared with 22% of Turkish women, and 61% of Pakistani men vs. 29% of Pakistani women. But in Jordan and Morocco, both men and women agree, in equal parts, that suicide bombing is justifiable.
Bin Laden Popular in Pakistan
Osama bin Laden is viewed with almost universal disdain throughout the European nations surveyed as well as in Turkey. But bin Laden is regarded favorably by 65% of Pakistanis and by 55% of Jordanians. Moroccans are divided in their views, with 45% favorable and 42% unfavorable.
Polarized Views of World Leaders
Majorities in every country surveyed except the U.S. have an unfavorable opinion of President Bush, with negative ratings ranging from 57% in Great Britain (with 39% favorable) to 85% negative in both France and Germany. Six-in-ten have an unfavorable view of Bush in Russia, and two-thirds (67%) feel this way in Turkey. Feelings about Bush are nearly unanimously negative in Jordan (96% unfavorable) and Morocco (90%), and are nearly as low in Pakistan (67% unfavorably, 7% favorable, 25% no opinion).
Opinion of Prime Minister Tony Blair is divided in his own country, with 51% of the British giving Blair a favorable rating and 47% rating him unfavorably. Americans, even many who disapprove of Bush, view Blair in a positive light. Although Blair has faced considerable criticism at home, American impressions of the British prime minister have only improved. Three-quarters of Americans have a favorable impression of Blair, up from 68% last April.
In other countries, Blair’s image is only somewhat more positive than Bush’s. Solid majorities in France, Germany and Turkey rate Blair unfavorably, and, as with Bush, tiny minorities in Jordan, Pakistan, or Morocco view him favorably. Russian opinion about the British leader is evenly divided (36% positive, 37% negative).
French President Jacques Chirac is well regarded in his own country (60% favorable, 40% unfavorable), and gets even better ratings in Germany (70% favorable), as well as Russia and Morocco (63% favorable). But just as the French generally view Bush and Blair unfavorably, just a quarter of Americans and 37% of the British have a favorable opinion of Chirac.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is widely unknown, with a third or more in every country except Pakistan giving no opinion. Pakistanis expressed highly favorable opinions of their president; 86% rate him favorably, and 60% view him very favorably, by far the highest rating of any leader in the survey. Views of Musharraf are more positive than negative in Turkey, and are about evenly divided in Britain, the U.S., Russia, and Jordan. Negative opinion of Musharraf is strongest in France, Germany, and Morocco.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is well regarded in most of the nations surveyed, with majorities expressing a favorable opinion of Annan in France (79%), Germany (74%), Great Britain (65%), and Russia (53%). Opinion is more positive than negative in the U.S. (42% favorable to 23% unfavorable), Turkey (43% to 36%), and Pakistan (29% to 21%), though many have no opinion about the U.N. leader in these nations. But these favorable reviews are not universal. Majorities rate the U.N. leader unfavorably in both Jordan (54%) and Morocco (78%).
- Corrected 3-17-04. Previous release mistakenly said “at least half of respondents in every country except the U.S….” ↩