Monday, December 19, 2005

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Drezner gets results from Pakistan!

Remember when I blogged that an inpressive display of U.S. aid to South Asia following the earthquake their would improve our standing in that part of the globe?

I bring this up only because of some new poll results released by Terror Free Tomorrow:

In the first poll in Pakistan since the earthquake of October 8, 2005, Pakistanis now hold a more favorable opinion of the United States than at any time since 9/11, while support for Al Qaeda in its home base has dropped to its lowest level since then. The direct cause for this dramatic shift in Muslim opinion is clear: American humanitarian assistance for Pakistani earthquake victims....

73% of Pakistanis surveyed in November 2005 now believe suicide terrorist attacks are never justified, up from 46% just last May.

Support for Osama Bin Laden has declined significantly (51% favorable in May 2005 to just 33% in November), while those who oppose him rose over the same period from 23% to 41%.

US favorability among Pakistanis has doubled from 23% in May to more than 46% now, while the percentage of Pakistanis with very unfavorable views declined from 48% to 28%.

For the first time since 9/11, more Pakistanis are now favorable to the United States than unfavorable.
78% of Pakistanis have a more favorable opinion of the United States because of the American response to the earthquake, with the strongest support among those under 35.

Click here to see the full results in .pdf format.

UPDATE: Husain Haqqani and Kenneth Ballen talk about the survey in the Wall Street Jounal. :

posted by Dan on 12.19.05 at 06:31 PM


I am skeptical of these results. The baseline poll was conducted by Pew, this one by Terror Free Tomorrow themselves. They asked questions identical to Pew's, but also asked questions about how the quake aid.

It will be interesting to see if there is a similar jump when Pew releases its next survey results.

posted by: Adam Sacarny on 12.19.05 at 06:31 PM [permalink]

I just blogged about this same poll. The interesting point though, was despite all these positive trends in Pakistani opinion, opposition to the war on terror has actually increased since the first poll. In Indonesia, similar American aid not only caused an increase in a favorable opinion of America, but a significant increase in support for the war on terror too. It could be an interesting task to try to account for the difference.

posted by: Free Belarus on 12.19.05 at 06:31 PM [permalink]

This poll was carried out by AC Nielson - hardly a slouch in the polling world. That said, I haven't looked at the methodologies or the specific questions asked, so if someone is interested in that horribly tedious task, the findings could also be interesting.

posted by: Free Belarus on 12.19.05 at 06:31 PM [permalink]

>It could be an interesting task to try to account for the difference.

Has Pakistan suffered much in the way of terrorist attacks? It was my impression that Pakistan was more of a place of support for extremists, and didn't get bombed much, while Indonesia didn't have so much support and got bombed more. If Pakistanis were more likely to see the extremists as good people fighting for justice, while the Indonesians were more likely to see them as the guys who bombed their nightclubs and scared off their tourists, the result you cite is less surprising.

Then again, I might be completely wrong.

posted by: crane on 12.19.05 at 06:31 PM [permalink]

Just to reinforce the theme of the post:

Cheney Visits Pakistan Quake Aid Station
Associated Press

"Vice President Dick Cheney visited Pakistan's earthquake zone Tuesday, underscoring the idea that helping Muslims in times of tragedy is one of the best ways the United States can improve its image overseas."

posted by: Robert on 12.19.05 at 06:31 PM [permalink]


As dumb as that son of a bitch is, I'm not sure if you want him agreeing with your ideas.

posted by: Chad on 12.19.05 at 06:31 PM [permalink]

Methodology is important in any polling, of course. In Pakistan, questions about terrorism would need to be worded carefully because of the application of that word to the Kashmir situation. Regretable as it may be that many Pakistanis would sympathize with the most barbaric tactics if employed by one side in Kashmir even if they disapprove of them elsewhere, such may well be the case.

posted by: Zathras on 12.19.05 at 06:31 PM [permalink]

Interesting. I just got back Saturday from seven days in Lahore, and I have to say the poll comports pretty well with what I found there. At no point did I feel the least bit of hostility. I think the key is that Pakistanis -- and not just the elites -- are getting more sophisticated about the U.S. In particular, they are increasingly making a distinction between America/Americans (toward whom their opinions are neutral at worst, and generally favorable) and the Bush administration, of which I found *no* supporters.

FYI, my conversations included academics and university students, businesspeople, domestic-service bureaucrats, several attorneys, and a brigadier general in the Pakistani army (who also happens to be my brother-in-law...).

posted by: The Pooka on 12.19.05 at 06:31 PM [permalink]

A small quibble with what Pooka said:

Pakistanis have always been somewhat sophisticted about the US; the distinction between Americans and US foreign policy has most always been drawn quite clearly. US foreign policy has always been bitterly disliked; Clinton was not 'popular' at all among Pakistanis either for many of the same reasons that Bush is not ( i.e. their foreign policy is bad...though of course in comparison to Bush, Clinton was a rockstar).

The dislike of foreign policy skyrocketed after the Afghanistan and Iraq wars--but generally this hostility was not directed towards individual Americans. Most Pakistanis are not (and have never been) afflicted with a desire to destroy 'American infidels' or the 'American way of life'; at the same time, they are (and have always been) virulently critical of American policies around the world. Bin Laden and his coterie have been successful--though not nearly as much as they had hoped--in exploiting specific political grievances to gain adherents (and broader public support) for their own agenda.

This observation generalizes to the Middle East, and for that matter Southeast Asia as well.

posted by: AD on 12.19.05 at 06:31 PM [permalink]

Too bad defense contracters dont make as much on these type of operations...there would be politcal support for more. Talk about security on the cheap...and effective. The Marshall Plan won the cold war and was never popular domestically. You will never go broke betting against the intellect of the american public.

posted by: gman on 12.19.05 at 06:31 PM [permalink]

What seems amazing to me is how many Americans are too hopelessly ignorant and stupid to grasp the obvious fact that the primary constitutional responsibility of the executive branch is to please voters in Pakistan.

posted by: P. Froward on 12.19.05 at 06:31 PM [permalink]

"Soft" power could be hugely effective in the war on terror and just making the world a better place. I believe Blair wants a quick reaction force, of a kind, for missions like this. Quick aid -- if I am not mistaken. It is an exceptional idea.

posted by: Chris on 12.19.05 at 06:31 PM [permalink]

"What seems amazing to me is how many Americans are too hopelessly ignorant and stupid to grasp the obvious fact that the primary constitutional responsibility of the executive branch is to please voters in Pakistan."

No, but one of the primary constitutional responsibilities of the executive branch is to act on the basis of informed opinion about other countries. Simply noting that the Pakistani public feels one way or another, and that it might have good policy/security implications (or not), is not to somehow subordinate the executive branch to foreign opinion. It is to conduct rational fact gathering, to the extent that is possible.

posted by: AD on 12.19.05 at 06:31 PM [permalink]

I think your post makes literal sense...if it prevents pakis from blowing themselves up in or near places vital to the interests of the US

posted by: gman on 12.19.05 at 06:31 PM [permalink]

AD, that's a long, long way from the belief that anybody who hates us, or hates George Bush, is axiomatically right. We both know that belief is very popular among the kind of people who drone on about how everybody hates us.

gman, that's a real big "if". And the auto-demolition of Pakistanis, while often regrettable, is not the only concern we have. One bigger concern might have to do with the idea that it's not a great idea to pay protection money to anybody who threatens you. Some people might even argue that we have a "vital interest" in not taking orders from the kind of knuckleheads who blow themselves up on buses. Besides, licking their boots won't make them like us. Bootlickers may be useful, but nobody likes them, and everybody kicks them.

posted by: P. Froward on 12.19.05 at 06:31 PM [permalink]

helping paks after earthquake and marshall plan is bootlicking? shows weakness? funny! people on the hard left call them cynical pr stunts! with those types critics im more convinced of my wisdom on the subject.

posted by: gman on 12.19.05 at 06:31 PM [permalink]

Pooka -- not to disagree with you (much), but the people you talked to were largely the elites, not necessarily representative of the average Pakistani. Anecdotal data while useful, is necessarily incomplete.

Pakistan has had some bombing of Shia mosques, incidentally.

posted by: erg on 12.19.05 at 06:31 PM [permalink]

Yes, the Pakistani public has long made distinctions between America/Americans and the administration. My sense, however, is that that distinction broke down somewhat after the 2004 election, when many Pakistanis (and, for that matter, the rest of the world) took Bush's election as a positive referendum on his policies. The quake response -- along with other recent things, like W's popularity hovering around 40 percent (something that gets wide reportage there) -- has brought the disctinction back to the fore.

And yes, most of those I talked to extensively are "elites;" such is the nature of things (was my visit a research trip, rather than a holiday visit to family, I'd have been more careful). But I also never got any sense of hostility, however latent, toward me, despite the fact that I am embarassingly obviously an American -- in fact, quite the opposite. And *that* dynamic was consistent up and down the social scale, from street vendors to newspaper publishers. This is a change; and, when I commented on it, once friend there said (paraphrasing) "No one treats Americans badly any more, because you don't know which ones are here for quake relief and which ones aren't."

So kudos, Dan.

posted by: The Pooka on 12.19.05 at 06:31 PM [permalink]

Perhaps there is an element of imitating America?

posted by: Rick Perry vs the World on 12.19.05 at 06:31 PM [permalink]

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