Michael Barone writes on the progress of the Global War on Terrorism
George W. Bush has proclaimed that we are working to build democracy in Iraq not just for Iraqis but in order to advance freedom and defeat fanatical Islamist terrorism around the world.
We are not engaged in a popularity contest. We're trying to construct a safer world. We are in the long run better off if Muslims around the world turn away from terrorism and move toward democracy, even if we don't like some of the internal policies they choose and even if they don't have much affection for the United States. Two generations ago Americans, at the cost of hundreds of thousands of deaths, changed minds in Germany and Japan.
So how is the Bush strategy working so far:
The Pew Global Project Attitude's metrics give us reason to believe that today's Americans, at far lower cost, are once again changing minds in the Muslim world.
The Pew Global Attitudes Project's recent survey of opinion in six Muslim countries to tell us that progress is being made in achieving that goal. Minds are being changed and in the right direction.
Most important, support for terrorism in defense of Islam has "declined dramatically," in the Pew report's words, in Muslim countries, except in Jordan (which has a Palestinian majority) and Turkey, where support has remained a low 14 percent. It has fallen in Indonesia (from 27 to 15 percent since 2002), Pakistan (from 41 to 25 percent since 2004), Morocco (from 40 to 13 percent since 2004), and among Muslims in Lebanon (from 73 to 26 percent since 2002). Support for suicide bombings against Americans in Iraq has also declined. The percentage reporting some confidence in Osama bin Laden is now under 10 percent in Lebanon and Turkey and has fallen sharply in Indonesia.
Similarly, when asked whether democracy was a western way of doing things or could work well in their own country, between 77 and 83 percent in Lebanon, Morocco, Jordan, and Indonesia say it could work in their country--in each case a significant increase from earlier surveys. In Turkey, with its sharp political divisions, and Pakistan, with its checkered history, the percentages hover around 50 percent.