Skirting the real issue


Geraldine Sealey
March 17, 2004 1:54AM (UTC)

Now the president has jumped into the act of trying to make John Kerry name names of leaders around the world who would like to see Kerry beat Bush in November. "I think if you're gonna make an accusation in the course of a presidential campaign, you ought to back it up with facts," Bush said while sitting next to the Netherlands' prime minister.

It's a fun game, challenging Kerry like that, and a useful diversion for people who'd rather not debate the substance of the issue: World opinion of the United States has plummeted since Bush took office, and we have in fact alienated other nations. A brand new poll from the Pew Center plumbs discontent with America in European and Muslim countries. Majorities in both France and Germany (as well as four Muslim nations) said the U.S.-led war on terror is merely a ploy to get Mideast oil and achieve world domination.

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From the Pew Center: "A year after the war in Iraq, discontent with America and its policies has intensified rather than diminished. Opinion of the United States in France and Germany is at least as negative now as at the war's conclusion, and British views are decidedly more critical. Perceptions of American unilateralism remain widespread in European and Muslim nations, and the war in Iraq has undermined Americas credibility abroad. Doubts about the motives behind the U.S.-led war on terrorism abound, and a growing percentage of Europeans want foreign policy and security arrangements independent from the United States. Across Europe, there is considerable support for the European Union to become as powerful as the United States."

"In the predominantly Muslim countries surveyed, anger toward the United States remains pervasive, although the level of hatred has eased somewhat and support for the war on terrorism has inched up. Osama bin Laden, however, is viewed favorably by large percentages in Pakistan (65 percent), Jordan (55 percent) and Morocco (45 percent). Even in Turkey, where bin Laden is highly unpopular, as many as 31 percent say that suicide attacks against Americans and other Westerners in Iraq are justifiable. Majorities in all four Muslim nations surveyed doubt the sincerity of the war on terrorism. Instead, most say it is an effort to control Mideast oil and to dominate the world."


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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