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Thread: GW Bush...Changing Muslim Minds

  1. #1

    GW Bush...Changing Muslim Minds

    Support for Terrorism Declining in Muslim Countries
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    By Michael Barone
    Aug 22, 2005

    Metrics are hard to come by in the war on terrorism. We can know the number of improvised explosive devices that go off in Iraq and the number of suicide bombers there, but we can only guess at whether these numbers represent the last throes of a terrorist movement or its continuing growth.

    We can count the number of days the Iraqi parliament has moved the deadline for drafting a constitution -- seven, as this is written -- but cannot be sure what the effect of a finally drafted constitution will be.

    We can note that some 220,000 Iraqis took part in deliberations over the constitution and that the Iraqi electricity supply now exceeds that of prewar levels.

    But the most important changes occurring -- not just in Iraq, but across the Muslim world -- are changes in people's minds. These are harder, but not impossible, to measure.

    George W. Bush has proclaimed that we are working to build democracy in Iraq not just for Iraqis, but in order to advance freedom and defeat fanatical Islamist terrorism around the world. Now comes the Pew Global Attitudes Project's recent survey of opinion in six Muslim countries to tell us that progress is being made in achieving that goal.

    Minds are being changed, and in the right direction.

    Most importantly, support for terrorism in defense of Islam has "declined dramatically," in the Pew report's words, in Muslim countries, except in Jordan (which has a Palestinian majority) and Turkey, where support has remained a low 14 percent. It has fallen in Indonesia (from 27 percent to 15 percent since 2002), Pakistan (from 41 percent to 25 percent since 2004) and Morocco (from 40 percent to 13 percent since 2004), and among Muslims in Lebanon (from 73 percent to 26 percent since 2002).

    Support for suicide bombings against Americans in Iraq has also declined. The percentage reporting some confidence in Osama bin Laden is now under 10 percent in Lebanon and Turkey, and has fallen sharply in Indonesia.

    Similarly, when asked whether democracy was a Western way of doing things or could work well in their own country, between 77 percent and 83 percent in Lebanon, Morocco, Jordan and Indonesia say it could work in their country -- in each case a significant increase from earlier surveys. In Turkey, with its sharp political divisions, and Pakistan, with its checkered history, the percentages hover around 50 percent.

    Polls in the United States may show that Americans have become less supportive of our efforts in Iraq, as the suicide bombings and roadside-bomb attacks continue. But the Pew polls in these Muslim countries demonstrate that those attacks have moved Muslim opinion against the terrorists and toward democracy. Muslims around the world cannot help but notice that Iraq is moving, however imperfectly, toward representative government. They can't have missed the "Cedar Revolution" in Lebanon and the expulsion of Syrian forces from Beirut. They may have noticed the small concessions to democracy in Saudi Arabia.

    They may also have noticed that Egypt will have its first contested election for president next year.

    "There were no arguments over the United States, Israel, Palestine, Iraq or any of the other 'hot spots' that used to dominate every meal and spill over into tea, coffee and dessert," writes Mona Eltahawy in The Washington Post of her trip to Egypt this summer. "This time, all conversations were about a small but active opposition movement in Egypt that since December has focused on ending the dictatorship of President Hosni Mubarak. I have never heard so many relatives and friends take such an interest in Egyptian politics or -- more important -- feel that they had a stake in them." Minds are indeed changing.

    This is not to say that everybody in these countries has good things to say about the United States. But we are not engaged in a popularity contest. We're trying to construct a safer world. We are in the long run better off if Muslims around the world turn away from terrorism and move toward democracy, even if we don't like some of the internal policies they choose and even if they don't have much affection for the United States.

    Two generations ago, Americans, at the cost of hundreds of thousands of deaths, changed minds in Germany and Japan. The Pew Global Project Attitude's metrics give us reason to believe that today's Americans, at far lower cost, are changing minds in the Muslim world.

    Michael Barone is a senior writer for U.S. News & World Report and principal coauthor of The Almanac of American Politics.

  2. #2
    I can only hope these polls are correct.

    I would like to point out however that the Pew Institute are the same people that say 6 out of 10 Americans no longer support the War in Iraq.

    If we accept their data is good RE: decline of support for terrorism by Muslims then we have to accept their data is good RE: decline of support for Iraq war by Americans.

  3. #3
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    [QUOTE=bitonti]


    If we accept their data is good RE: decline of support for terrorism by Muslims then we have to accept their data is good RE: decline of support for Iraq war by Americans.[/QUOTE]


    However, if the first statement is true, then the second one will change.

  4. #4
    This is certainly good news and the Lord knows this country can use some.

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    [QUOTE=bitonti]

    If we accept their data is good RE: decline of support for terrorism by Muslims then we have to accept their data is good RE: decline of support for Iraq war by Americans.[/QUOTE]

    FALLACY ALERT! But nice try though! ;)

  6. #6
    [QUOTE=quantum]FALLACY ALERT! But nice try though! ;)[/QUOTE]

    what are you talking about? I'm just enforcing rules of consistancy. You can't use one set of Pew data and rip to shreds another set. Either the Pew is trustworthy or they aren't.

    Within the last few days a right wing poster denied the poll numbers based on the number of people the organization polled, the people they polled etc. Which is fine. All i'm saying is that you can't accept the polls when the results appeal to your viewpoint and throw them out when you don't like the results.

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    [QUOTE=bitonti]what are you talking about? I'm just enforcing rules of consistancy. You can't use one set of Pew data and rip to shreds another set. Either the Pew is trustworthy or they aren't.

    Within the last few days a right wing poster denied the poll numbers based on the number of people the organization polled, the people they polled etc. Which is fine. All i'm saying is that you can't accept the polls when the results appeal to your viewpoint and throw them out when you don't like the results.[/QUOTE]


    We all know that Newsmax and World Net Daily are the only true sources of journalism. Polls don't matter, only Scaife and Horowitz....C'mon!!

  8. #8
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    [QUOTE=bitonti]what are you talking about? I'm just enforcing rules of consistancy. You can't use one set of Pew data and rip to shreds another set. Either the Pew is trustworthy or they aren't.

    Within the last few days a right wing poster denied the poll numbers based on the number of people the organization polled, the people they polled etc. Which is fine. All i'm saying is that you can't accept the polls when the results appeal to your viewpoint and throw them out when you don't like the results.[/QUOTE]

    You can; the 2 polls are unrelated. We don't know if they were both conducted the same and in the most scientific way. I'm not attacking the results, just your error in logic.

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    [QUOTE=quantum]You can; the 2 polls are unrelated. We don't know if they were both conducted the same and in the most scientific way. I'm not attacking the results, just your error in logic.[/QUOTE]

    You gatta admit that he is consistent with that 'logic'...

  10. #10
    [QUOTE=quantum]You can; the 2 polls are unrelated. We don't know if they were both conducted the same and in the most scientific way. I'm not attacking the results, just your error in logic.[/QUOTE]


    Actually, I think his logic is right here. You have to assume that the methodology for both polls was similar since they were both conducted by the same group. no?

  11. #11
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    [B]The shifting terrain of Iraq war and Muslim opinion [/B]

    "Insanity," goes a popular old saw attributed to both Albert Einstein and Ben Franklin (so it must be right), "is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

    As a corollary, it seems to me that saying the same thing over and over again, regardless of the results, should be a similar kind of crazy.

    For the past few years, we've been told (by John Kerry, Howard Dean, and various and sundry editorialists) that George W. Bush has, by fighting the "wrong war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time," "created more terrorists" and "isolated America" by inflaming passions in the Middle East.

    Cindy Sheehan has amplified this perspective, calling President Bush, among other things, an "evil maniac" and the world's "biggest terrorist." In the process, she's become a hero to those who see pathos in her protest and a sham to those who see bathos in her stunts.

    But as Sheehan's rhetoric exceeds even the heat of the Crawford sun, and as Democrats openly ponder whether she's the visionary who will lead them out of the wilderness, facts on the ground are changing. If the war has created more terrorists and made the world hate us more, why exactly has Muslim and Arab opinion of the United States improved?

    According to the massive Pew Global Attitudes Survey, views of the United States have been improving. We're not exactly back to the days when Kuwaiti babies were being named George Bush, but the trends are in our favor. The share of people with a favorable view of America went up in Indonesia by some 23 points, in Lebanon by 15 points, and in Jordan by 16 points. Trends in France, Germany, Russia and India have been moving our way, too.

    But the news gets even better. Support for terrorism and Osama Bin Laden has been plummeting across the Arab and Muslim world (save for in Jordan, where the large Palestinian population plays a big role). Support for democracy, meanwhile, has improved. According to Pew, "nearly three-quarters of Moroccans and roughly half of those in Pakistan, Turkey and Indonesia see Islamic extremism as a threat to their countries." The share of those supporting suicide bombings and the targeting of civilians has fallen by more than one-third in Lebanon where democracy is on the move, by the way and by 16 and 27 points in Pakistan and Morocco, respectively. Similar declines in support for Osama Bin Laden, al-Qaida and the like have been recorded.

    No doubt these numbers are imperfect and hardly speak to a single cause. In Indonesia, our generous tsunami relief helped a great deal. In Lebanon, terrorism isn't just something that happens to Israelis and Americans it's something that could snuff out the rebirth of democracy there (it's also a reminder of the civil war few wish to return to). And across the Arab world, opinions have been shifted by images of Iraqi "insurgents" slaughtering innocent men, women and children while Americans are trying to build schools and hospitals.

    But here in the United States opinions remain fixed. Opponents of the war are convinced that every day we are in Iraq we are making things worse for America and the world. One could certainly argue that we're making things worse for America, in that the war has not gone as well as many of its supporters had hoped or expected. But even if you could prove that the war was a mistake in every way, to say that it never should have happened is not a good argument for abandoning the project. If a man is stabbed in the chest, you don't cure him by simply yanking the knife out. In other words, the old talking points on both sides do not matter anymore.


    There is an important lesson for President Bush in all this. The message of his recent speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars was that we need to "stay the course." That has been his talking point for a very long time. And, in fairness, if your policy is to stay the course, then saying "stay the course" has a certain irrefutable logic to it. But on any long journey, even if the course remains the same the terrain may change.


    Much has changed in Iraq. The Iraqi army is progressing, even as bombers target recruiting stations. The marshlands have been restored. There's an enormous car-buying boom in Iraq, which is surely a sign of confidence. Morale to the consternation of our domestic media is still very high among American regular troops (less so among National Guardsmen). And, let's not forget, the messy process of constitution-writing is unfolding before our very eyes.


    For reasons so imponderable that a cottage industry of West Wing Kremlinologists has sprung up, President Bush seems incapable or unwilling to make his case in light of the new realities. One may stay the course, and cross mountains and valleys. Let's hear less about the destination and more about crossing the mountains and valleys.

    [url]http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/jonah082605.asp[/url]

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