Friday, July 15, 2005
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Is the war against Al Qaeda generating results?
Bruce Jentleson kicks off his first post for America Abroad with a valid question:
Just about everyone is questioning the policy on Iraq. However, one of the key criticisms of the Iraq war is that it incubated a new generation of adherents to Al Qaeda. Is that really true? Are the Bush administration's anti-terrorim policies "sound enough and solid enough to win in our arenas"?
Via Orin Kerr, I see the latest Pew Global Attitudes survey is up, and there are some numbers that suggest the answer is (mostly) yes. It turns out that Osama bin Laden is losing the hearts and minds of Muslims. Susan Page summarizes in USA Today:
Click here for more poll results. As Nick Gillespie put it in Hit & Run, "Bin Laden: Hopes for Re-Election as World's Most Popular Asshole Dim."
Here are the key charts:
The numbers offer support to both supporters and critics of the way the Bush administration has prosecuted the war of terror.
On the one hand, the numbers are trending in the right direction, and the comparison between the July 2002 numbers and July 2005 numbers in most countries suggests that Iraq hasn't generated
On the other hand, the numbers for Jordan are not trending in the desired direction at all. This could be due to Iraq, although if that was the case one would have expected a similar trend in Turkey and that hasn't happened. Still, it should disturb policy analysts across the policy spectrum that the one Arab country simultaneously possessing a free trade agreement with the United States and a peace treaty with Israel has a population that is growing more comfortable with radical Islam.posted by Dan on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM
Lets see - Turkey, Indonesia, Morocco all were impacted by suicide bombings in the last 3 years. Could that have anything to do with it?
Of course not - it was the Iraq invasion that clearly is spreading freedom everywhere!
The thing is that the US's image in Islamic countries was at a near all-time low after the Iraq war. If you read the whole Pew document and their previous study on perceptions of the US, it shows that and it also shows that the image has improved a little over the last couple of years. So the Iraq war had a huge short-term negative impact on US image. 2 years has given some time for this anger to cool, and the fact that the US has not invaded Syria or Iran (as the necons wanted) has helped. Some positives in Iraq have also helped. But thats a far cry from saying that the Iraq was has not generated negative externalities. It unquestionably has.
The other thing that has helped is the brutality of Al Qaeda whose attacks in Morocco, Indonesia and the like have reduced support for OBL dramatically in those countries.
On the other hand, I'm shocked that friendly Morocco still has 26% of people with confidence in Bin Laden. I'm less concerned about Jordan though -- the confidence question is probably within the MoE.
One good thing in the entire report is that the young seem to be less anti-US than the whole populace.
The first chart is headlined "Support for Suicide Bombing Declines" but then reports responses to a question concerning how often, if ever, "violence against civilian targets is justified." The two things aren't the same, so I'm not sure how to read that.posted by: Andrew Steele on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]
I think correlation is not causation. You can't say with certainty that support for suicide bombings or OBL is down due to Bush's Iraq policies.
I also find the view that London bombings occurred because of the Iraq invasion utterly disingenious. I don't know if there is a link. Even if there is, that should not be a reason to oppose Iraq war.posted by: Niket on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]
I am wondering if people find this report at all limited in its utility given the fact that it excludes the following countries: Saudi Arabia, Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Algeria, Egypt, and Libya. It seems to me that any survey looking at the critical issues of support for Bin Laden, radical Islam, and suicide attacks would want to consider those countries as well. I don't know how polling in such countries would affect the overall results of the survey, but IMO their absence limits the relevance of the report either way. If one doesn't find the results from Turkey to be all that surprising (which one should not given its pro-Western bent, secular society, and desire to join the EU) the Pew Report actually appears to be a split with Pakistan (should be more alarming than the trends in Jordan) and Jordan trending negative.
Not only do I see the report as limited in analytic utility given the country selection, I also find the suggestion that any positive figures found in the study are related to the administration's policies in Iraq to be a fanciful suggestion. It is most likely that countries have come to view suicide attacks as a negative based on their own experience with them and see Bin Laden's inability to affect any major change as a reason for limiting their support. Let us not forget that what Bin Laden hopes to achieve is a monumentally difficult task to begin with and one could have just as easily have "stayed the course" and persevered in the face of his challenge by invading Afghanistan and stopping right there. In no way did we have to invade Iraq to show resolve.posted by: Dan-NYCIPA on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]
Is the poll really that good a piece of news overall? Easily the most important country in the group is nuclear-armed Pakistan and the increase in support for Bin Laden to above 50% is ominous even if support for suicide bombing there has declined.
The good news in the other countries is welcome but Turkey,Indonesia and Morocco aren't really that important in the larger scheme of Islamic extremism. I would like to see the numbers for Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Given that the polled country closest to them (geographically and ethnically) is Jordan suggests again that this poll is not such good news.
To the extent that there is good news in some of the countries I suspect, like Vish,that it has more to do with seeing the results of terrorist attacks at first hand than with any US policy. If I am not mistaken polls in almost all these countries have seen massive drops of support for the US in the last few years.posted by: Strategist on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]
"I think correlation is not causation. You can't say with certainty that support for suicide bombings or OBL is down due to Bush's Iraq policies".
I agree with that very much. Often it is peoples incorrect linkage of correlation to causation that is more important, then what actually caused the issue in the first place.
One should also point out that you don't need a whole lot of terrorists to pull off a pretty big event. Although, there may have been some unknown support we are not sure about, it certainly didn't take 5000 terrorists to pull off the Oklahoma City bombing.posted by: russell120 on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]
fareed zakaria does the math: For months after 9/11, I kept writing that it was sad and disturbing that Muslims were reluctant to condemn the attacks. This time is different. Major Muslim groups in Britain have unambiguously denounced the bombings. Even "fundamentalist" organizations have condemned it...
The response outside Britain has also been much stronger than ever before. The grand imam of Al-Azhar, Sheik Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, condemned the bombers but went further, rejecting the argument that this attack could be justified as an attempt to force Britain out of Iraq. "This is illogical and cannot be the motive for killing innocent civilians," he said. More striking have been the condemnations from radical groups like Hamas, Hizbullah and Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, all of which have denounced the bombings...
September 11 shocked the Arab psyche. For months afterward, Arabs and many Muslims went through phases recognizable to psychologists: shock, denial, anger. (Remember those absurd claims that 9/11 was a Mossad plot?) They are finally, slowly, moving toward recognizing that there is a great dysfunction in the world of Islam, which has allowed Muslims to concoct wild conspiracy theories, blame others for their problems and, worst of all, condone grotesque violence...
There should be much, much greater condemnation from mainstream Islam. Moderates must adopt a zero-tolerance policy on terrorism, regardless of what they think of Iraq, Palestine or any other policy issue. But those clamoring for such condemnations should bear in mind that this will not solve the problem. Even if the moderates win and overwhelm the extremists, there will always be some number of unconverted jihadists, who either out of depravity or conviction seek to do evil. If 99.99 percent of the Arab world rejects terrorism, that still leaves 20,000 people to worry about. If 99.9 percent of the Muslim world is against the terrorists, there's 1 million people out there who are dangerous. And the technologies of destruction ensure that they will, on occasion, be successful.
To realize victory, we have to understand this struggle is more complex than we have been led to believe. Simple slogans telling us we fight terrorists in Iraq so that we will not have to fight them here, are just that: slogans, not comprehensive policies. In fact, as London shows, terrorists can fight in two places at the same time. Or three. Or 10. And the great danger, of course, is that they can fight with dangerous weapons. The calculus of terror would change irrevocably if one of these splinter groups were ever to get its hands on nuclear materials or biological pathogens. So far the Bush administration has not given this danger the priority it urgently requires.posted by: georgio on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]
a couple obvious points:
2)There is no such thing as "Al Qaeda". This is an invention of the idiots at Johns Hopkins and network news. There just is not an organization as such. And it is a lie to act like there is. There is not even an ideology as such. Just because the Ministry of Truth in our modern day Oceania still needs a Eurasia to fight does not mean we have to believe that shit. Though this is completely obvious to everyone in the Middle East, "Al Qaeda" really is just any random person who wants to fight back. And, hate to break it to you all, but they have the right to be mad. We are fucking the Middle East. And we are so arrogant we don't even think other people would want to fight us. or that they must be crazy if they do.
3)The resistance in Iraq has been extremely brutal. I bet that if they were better at targeting only Americans and not other Iraqis too, the popularity of attacking the USA would be very high in almost every country in the world. And, Osama is popular in a similar way as Che Guevera was in the 60's. The USA is seen as (and is) an oppressor. And people want to fight that. For the most part Osama represents fighting oppression, not a religious ideology (though he obviously has one). Just as most people who identified with Che, back in his day, knew little of his economic policies but supported his fight against imperialism.
so ponder that.posted by: one view on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]
" The radicalization of Britain's Muslim youth of Pakistani origin began in the mid-90s with the full knowledge and complicity of British and US intelligence agencies. At the behest of a US administration keen to aid the Bosnian mujahideen in their war against the Serbs, about 200 UK Pakistanis went to Pakistan for training by a jihadi organization, and then to Bosnia. With the London bombings of July 7, it appears that the chickens have come home to roost."
If the US really, really, really wanted to do something about terrorism, they would start with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. But then again, terrorism is the annoying fly in lion's den. The lion being China....
I'm willing to bet that the NSC has its on China and Iraq is part of a strategy to get a stronger foothold into Central Asia. Asia Times and The Economist both had articles on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) where "The overall strategic aim of the alliance for Beijing and Moscow is curbing Washington's influence in Central Asia to establish a joint sphere of influence there."posted by: No von Mises on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]
D'oh. It should read:
But then again, I believe terrorism is the annoying fly in the lion's den. The lion being China....
I'm willing to bet that the NSC has its eyes on China and Iraq is part of a strategy to get a stronger foothold in Central Asia.posted by: No von Mises on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]
Like most polls it's a case of seeing what you want to see in order to say what you want to say.
I'm sure if you had polled Germans after failed
Polls may tell you what people are thinking - but where's the value in that information? If the only opinion that really matters is the one that comes at the end, what does it matter what a few idiots sitting around in coffee shops are thinking now?posted by: Kinch on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]
If it's good news for Bush it simply isn't true. You can read whatever you want from it but I will not accept anything that seems to reflect well on the Bushies. My psychological makeup prevents it. A lot of people are like me, so we all feel good together, feeling bad about the Bushitler Cheneyburton neo-nut-con jobs who rule the corpo-globo-capitalist conspiracy of oppression. Whewww! I feel much better now, feeling bad with my friends.posted by: Willy Nilly on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]
The decline of support for suicide terrorism has nothing to do with the issue at hand. The real issue is whether Bush's policies have "incubated a new generation of adherents to Al Qaeda" and whether his anti-terrorism policies actually work. Let's place the accent on this important query. To say that his policies are "sound" and "solid" solely because Muslims are speaking out is inane.posted by: William on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]
I will say that the point "one view" makes (above) about the Nation Of Islam is a pretty strong point. I am more skeptical of the other things "one view" says though. But, I am presonally getting very sick of hearing about Islam this, Islamic terrorism that.. blah blah... But I do agree that the situation with the NOI was fairly similar to what we are facing today. And, in their case there were riots and violence tied to them, so even that is related. Of course the scale is different, with Malcolm X never having knocked any buildings, even though he talked tough. But I do think that overall, that was a fairly strong point. And an good piece of insight.
thanks,posted by: timemachine on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]
It looks like support for Bin Laden and suicide bombing has increased in countries that are allies in the war on terror but have repressive governments (Pakistan and Jordan) and decreased in placed with more democratic governments (Indonesia and Turkey) or repressive governments that the US is antagonistic towards.
Results from more countries would be needed to make the hypothesis more than a shot in the dark. But it seems plausible. If you live under a repressive government that the US seeks to topple, then US policy looks to be striving to give you freedom and democracy (Lebanon for example). But, if you live under a repressive government and see that it is US policy to aid and praise your repressive government, then the idea that the war on terror is designed to spread freedom everywhere probably seems like a hollow lie.
The friend of my enemy is my enemy and the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
Like I said, just a thought.posted by: Charles N on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]
"We are fucking the Middle East. And we are so arrogant we don't even think other people would want to fight us. or that they must be crazy if they do."
Expound. Please.posted by: William on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]
"I don't know how polling in such countries would affect the overall results of the survey, but IMO their absence limits the relevance of the report either way."
Polls are like hasty generalizations.
One view, not for nothing but your post is something of a red herring.posted by: William on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]
Jordan is the outlier in this poll. It is also a country most of whose population is Palestinian. Attitudes toward targeting civilians there are more likely to track developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than attitudes in any other country, and more likely to track them than they are anything else.posted by: Zathras on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]
YANKEE, GO HOME!!!posted by: NeoPatriot on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]
Blaming Islam for terrorism is like blaming Roman Catholicism for fascism.
Most fascist parties of Europe and Latin America (past and present) have a “religious zeal” for the Christian faith, yet only the most anti-Christian mind would ever think to blame the Gospels and religious leaders.
"And, hate to break it to you all, but they have the right to be mad. We are fucking the Middle East. And we are so arrogant we don't even think other people would want to fight us. or that they must be crazy if they do."
Indeed, the billions in foreign aid we are giving to Egypt ($2 billion/year), the Palestinian authority ($100s of millions/year), Afghanistan and Iraq (many billions already), coupled with the destruction of two of the most hideously evil regimes on the planet in the Taliban and Hussein and subsequent liberation of millions of Muslims, coming on top of the liberation of Kuwait in 1992 and the on-going transfer of trillions of dollars in oil purchases -- all of this constitutes a fucking of worst sort. No wonder they hate our guts.
posted by: Michael Smith on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]
You sound like a German Nationalist demanding respect for all the wonders Kant and Luther and Arayan culture provided to The West.posted by: NeoDude on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]
You sound like a German Nationalist demanding respect for all the wonders Kant and Luther and Arayan culture provided to The West."
So, as you understand it, Kant, Luther and Arayan Culture = Billions in Foreign Aid and Liberation from dictatorship? You are unable to grasp any distinction between such things?
And America's status = the perpetrators of the Holocaust and the murderers of millions of Europeans?
Do you have any actual arguments to offer? Any reasoning or logic or facts? Or, like most on the left, are you full of nothing but unsupported and unsubstantiated innuendo, lame analogies and smears?
By any rational standard, what America has done for the nations of the middle east cannot be called "fucking".posted by: Michael Smith on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]
I think, (and I am not Aryan) Luther and Kant were and are more valuable than Billions in Foreign Aid and Liberation from dictatorship?
Because, I don't know if you noticed, but we replaced a secular tyrant with a theocratic one. Our aid has nothing to do with John Locke and the Federalist Papers, and everything to do with our own selfish needs.
We ain't foolin' no one, except you and right-wing sheep.posted by: NeoDude on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]
I'd be very glad to see the end of the practice that uses the first person plural as a term of art suggestive of the third person plural.
"We," as in "...we replaced a secular tyrant with a theocratic one" clearly is not intended to mean "we." It is intended to mean "they": malevolent forces within the American government or at least the current Republican administration toward which the user of "we" feels the most intense hostility and with which he does not want to be associated in any way. It would add length but also clarity if "we" were not used in such cases. Using "they" instead would allow readers to more easily distinguish between the virtuous author and the sinister people he is denouncing. It would raise no awkward questions as use the first person plural does, for example what the author actually did to contribute to replacing a secular tyrant with a theocratic one, or I suppose what country he is referring to in this statement. It would also make his application of vulgar undergraduate language more graceful though no more edifying.posted by: Zathras on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]
I got your "vulgar undergraduate" right here, pal.
Taste the grace?posted by: NeoDude on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]
Don't forget, we're facing a generational problem. We can't "fix" the current group of Islamists. I think it's somewhat foolish to expect significant and visible changes in less than 10-20 years.posted by: Justin on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]
"I think, (and I am not Aryan) Luther and Kant were and are more valuable than Billions in Foreign Aid and Liberation from dictatorship?"
Then you need to live under a dictatorship for a while.
"Because, I don't know if you noticed, but we replaced a secular tyrant with a theocratic one."
Who are the theocratic tyrants in Afghanistan and Iraq? How can freely elected officials be theocrats?
"Our aid has nothing to do with John Locke and the Federalist Papers, and everything to do with our own selfish needs."
So what? I never contended that it had anything to do with John Locke and the Federalist Papers. Regardless of why we gave it to them , you have done nothing to justify the notion that aid and liberation constitutes fucking the mid-east.
"We ain't foolin' no one, except you and right-wing sheep."
So, they are entitled to accept our help and still hate us because we thought it was in our interest to help them?
You continue to resort to lame smears and unsupported accusations -- you have offered no evidence that we have fucked the mid-east.posted by: Michael Smith on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]
Do you really believe that aid trickles down to the average citizen?
What follows is an accurate chronology of United States involvement in the arming of Iraq during the Iraq-Iran war 1980-88. It is a powerful indictment of the president Bush administration attempt to sell war as a component of his war on terrorism. It reveals US ambitions in Iraq to be just another chapter in the attempt to regain a foothold in the Mideast following the fall of the Shah of Iran.
posted by: NeoDude on 07.15.05 at 04:36 PM [permalink]
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