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World Poll Reveals Growing Hostility Toward USA

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From the radio newsmagazine
Between The Lines
http://www.btlonline.org
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Between the Lines Q&A
A weekly column featuring progressive viewpoints
on national and international issues
under-reported in mainstream media
for release March 29, 2004
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World Public Opinion Poll Reveals Growing Hostility Toward America and Its Foreign Policy

Interview with Ed Bice, executive director of People's Opinion Project, conducted by Scott Harris

Listen in RealAudio: http://www.btlonline.org/bice040204.ram

A recent survey conducted in European and Arab nations by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, has found increasing hostility toward America and its foreign policy. The public opinion poll titled, "A Year After the Iraq War: Mistrust of America in Europe Ever Higher, Muslim Anger Persists," revealed that antagonism for the U.S. has intensified among the people of France, Germany and Britain. This comes as there is growing support in Europe for foreign and military policies more independent of the United States.

In Muslim countries surveyed, resentment against the U.S. is pervasive. Majorities of those polled in four Muslim nations doubt the sincerity of the U.S. war on terrorism and believe instead that Washington's policies are aimed at controlling Middle East Oil and to dominate the world. More alarmingly, Osama bin Laden is viewed favorably by large percentages of people in Pakistan, Jordan and Morocco. The recent Israeli assassination of the wheelchair-bound Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin has undoubtedly deepened the already burning rage against America in the Arab and Muslim world.

Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Ed Bice, executive director of the People's Opinion Project, who examines the Pew Center's polling data, what it means for America's standing in the world and why there is such a wide gap between world and U.S. public opinion.

Ed Bice: According to the Pew Poll, what we've done is to have alienated every one of the countries surveyed in the Pew Poll -- have found that the United States was untrustworthy following the events in Afghanistan and in Iraq. An across-the-board feeling in these nations surveyed (found) that America's intentions were not solid and we seemed to have alienated our friends and enemies alike. So, it's not good news for America and Americans.

Between The Lines: Maybe you could take a look at Europe, first of all, and discuss for us what the opinion poll found among the populace in Germany and France as the two major nations that opposed the U.S. war in Iraq.

Ed Bice: In France and Germany, we have 85 percent unfavorable rating for George Bush. Britain lags behind, still at 57 percent. Russia, 60 percent, and in the Muslim nations, Jordan, 96 percent of the respondents had an unfavorable view of George Bush. Now this isn't so surprising based on what we've seen across the world in response to our war in Iraq. But what a lot of people don't realize, Scott, is that just two years ago, we had 52 percent of Jordanians with a favorable view of the United States. It's really stunning to see what has happened to world opinion of the United States. We had a tremendous amount of goodwill and sympathy following 9/11 and we haven't just squandered it, it's completely disintegrated according to these polling returns. We've lost the good will and then some. So it's a very discouraging picture.

Between The Lines: In these opinion polls, questions are asked regarding the motivation of the United States and its war in Iraq. Go into some detail there about oil and the role that many people across the globe feel that valuable resource played in George Bush's administration's decision to declare war on Baghdad.

Ed Bice: Yeah, the Pew researchers asked people who expressed doubts about the U.S. sincerity to answer to what they thought our motives might have been, and oil was mentioned most often. We’ve got majorities in every nation surveyed -- with the exception of Britain and the U.S. -- majorities saying that controlling Middle East oil was the primary concern, with 71 percent of Jordanians thinking this was the real motivation.

George Bush has taken great efforts to put forward this notion that this is a great victory for democracy. It appears from the results of this poll that the people are not buying that. His sell on that is not convincing the people of the world that the U.S. had good intentions.

One interesting statistic out of the poll is that if Osama bin Laden were a candidate in a democratic election -- and this is me extrapolating from the poll -- but, we can think that if Osama bin Laden were a candidate for office in Pakistan that he would be a serious contender. Sixty-five percent of respondents in Pakistan had a favorable rating of Osama bin Laden. A majority also in Jordan at 55 percent. We have done nothing to marginalize the worst of the terrorists. We have, it seems, only aided his cause in terms of international public opinion.

Between The Lines: Ed Bice in closing here, tell our audience about the great gap between world public opinion, about the war in Iraq -- the success or failure of the Bush administration in the war against terrorism that we see here -- the gap between world opinion and that here in the United States.

Ed Bice: There's a tremendous disconnect between how people of America view our perception in the world, and how people in the world perceive us.

A full 70 percent of Americans asked in the Pew Center poll whether the United States had the interests of foreign countries in mind when making foreign policy decisions. Seventy percent of respondents said, "Yes, our foreign policy decisions are made with concern for the interest of people in other countries."

There's a dramatic disconnect. This question was asked of the people in the other countries in this poll, and the percentages are well below half in the 30 percent -- 40 percent range on the high end, of people who consider America to have their best interest in mind.

We are an island when it comes to global opinion. We at the People's Opinion Project feel that American foreign policy is going to remain ineffective until we have a better understanding of our standing in the world and how we are regarded.

Contact the People's Opinion Project by calling (415) 488-0618 or visit their website at http://www.thepop.org.

Visit our Between The Lines Newswire regularly at http://www.btlonline.org to read other in-depth news stories that are under-reported or ignored in the corporate media.

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Scott Harris, executive producer of Between The Lines, which can be heard on over 35 radio stations. This interview excerpt was featured on the award-winning, syndicated weekly radio newsmagazine, Between The Lines ( http://www.btlonline.org), for the week ending April 2, 2004. This Between The Lines Q&A was compiled by Anna Manzo and Scott Harris.

PRINT INFORMATION: For reprint permission, please email betweenthelines@snet.net.

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