2002 December 04 Wednesday
Pew Global Attitudes Survey For 2002 Released

The Pew Research Center has released its Global Attitudes Survey:

urkish respondents differ from Europeans about the danger posed by Iraq. They are divided on whether the regime in Baghdad is a threat to the stability of the region, and just a narrow 44% plurality thinks Saddam Hussein should be removed from power.

Fully 83% of Turks oppose allowing U.S. forces to use bases in their country, a NATO ally, to wage war on Iraq. Further, a 53% majority of Turkish respondents believe the U.S. wants to get rid of Saddam as part of a war against unfriendly Muslim countries, rather than because the Iraqi leader is a threat to peace.

While Europeans view Saddam as a threat, they also are suspicious of U.S. intentions in Iraq. Large percentages in each country polled think that the U.S. desire to control Iraqi oil is the principal reason that Washington is considering a war against Iraq. In Russia 76% subscribe to a war-for-oil view; so too do 75% of the French, 54% of Germans, and 44% of the British. In sharp contrast, just 22% of Americans see U.S. policy toward Iraq driven by oil interests. Two-thirds think the United States is motivated by a concern about the security threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

In addition, respondents in the five nations surveyed (aside from the U.S.) express a high degree of concern that war with Iraq will increase the risk of terrorism in Europe. Two-thirds of those in Turkey say this, as do majorities in Russia, France, Great Britain and Germany. By comparison, 45% of Americans are worried that war will raise the risk of terrorist attacks in the U.S.

Suspicions about U.S. motives in Iraq are consistent with criticisms of America apparent throughout the Global Attitudes survey. The most serious problem facing the U.S. abroad is its very poor public image in the Muslim world, especially in the Middle East/Conflict Area. Favorable ratings are down sharply in two of America’s most important allies in this region, Turkey and Pakistan. The number of people giving the United States a positive rating has dropped by 22 points in Turkey and 13 points in Pakistan in the last three years. And in Egypt, a country for which no comparative data is available, just 6% of the public holds a favorable view of the U.S.

The war on terrorism is opposed by majorities in nearly every predominantly Muslim country surveyed. This includes countries outside the Middle East/Conflict Area, such as Indonesia and Senegal. The principal exception is the overwhelming support for America’s anti-terrorist campaign found in Uzbekistan, where the United States currently has 1,500 troops stationed.

Sizable percentages of Muslims in many countries with significant Muslim populations also believe that suicide bombings can be justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies. While majorities see suicide bombing as justified in only two nations polled, more than a quarter of Muslims in another nine nations subscribe to this view.


The populace of Germany is surprisingly supportive of the need to remove Saddam Hussein from power. The difference between the UK and German governments on Iraq is not reflected in a difference in popular opinion. In both the UK and Germany 75% believe that Saddam Hussein must be removed and even 63% of the French agree. The lesson here is that we should not form judgements of a nation's people from its leaders.

Uzbekistan and Pakistan are both Muslim countries and yet 85% of Uzbeks have a favorable image of the US while only 10% of Pakistanis do. Uzbekistan is probably much more secular than Pakistan as a result of the Soviet legacy. Still, its surprising to see that the US is more popular in Uzbekistan even than in any European country listed.

While only 7% of Uzbeks and 13% of Turks think that suicide bombing in defense of Islam is justifiable 73% of Lebanese, 43% of Jordan, 33% of Pakistanis and 27% of Indonesians do. Even the lower percentages of Uzbekistan and Turkey are worrisome since it takes only a small number of suicide bombers to cause enormous harm.

The complete report is available as a 280k PDF.

Also, their Top Line PDF document is interesting. Canadians and Americans at 67% and 64% outscore any other surveyed country (see page 1) in terms of whether people believe they are living the best possible life for themselves. See page 5 for optimism about the future. Americans at 61% edge out Canadians at 54% but a surprising distribution is found among other countries. People in some African countries appear to be extremely optimistic about the future. The highest are Senegal at 91% and Ivory Coast at 92%. Maybe things are so bad now people think things can only get better. Or maybe they just have naturally optimistic cultures. On page 7 while 67% of Americans are very satisfied about their family life only 14% of Italians are. Though 68% of Italians are somewhat satisfied. See page 9 for a satisfaction summary table that combines "very satisfied" with "somewhat satisfied" for job, income, and family life. Note that Jordanians hate their jobs the most.

On page 10 of the Top Line document there is an interesting question about how people feel about how things are going in their country. In very few countries do more than half the population feel satisfied things are going well in their country. Uzbekistan and Vietnam both is 69%, Canada is 56%, and next comes Pakistan (what?) at 49% and China at 48% and then the US at 41. Pakistan is the fourth ranked country for how things are going in their country? That's weird. Then on page 11 Vietnam is the only country (51%) where more than half the country is satisfied with how things are going in the world. 33 of the 43 countries listed have less than 20% of their populations satisfied about the world at large. The US is at 17%, Canada at 18% and yet those happy Uzbeks are at 47%. I think we should start referring to the Uzbeks as "those happy Uzbeks" for now on.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 December 04 05:06 PM 

Anna said at December 4, 2002 6:00 PM:

83%? God bless the Turks!

Randall Parker said at December 4, 2002 7:39 PM:

Huh? 83% of Turks oppose allowing U.S. forces to use bases in their country.

God bless the Uzbeks!

Andrej said at December 9, 2002 12:27 PM:

I am surprised that Russia was that supportive. You probably polled wrong people :)

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