World Opinion

WORLD OPINION….Josh Marshall, who’s been posting an awful lot of good stuff lately, points today to the latest Pew poll on world attitudes (summary is here, full 136-page report is here). I get a kick out of this stuff, and while I don’t really have any conclusions to draw, some of the individual results are interesting.

For example, the chart on the right shows opinions regarding various world leaders. I suppose that for partisan reasons it’s not surprising that most countries (except for Russia!) didn’t choose their own leader as the one they trusted most “to do the right thing,” but it’s interesting to see who they did choose and who the third and fourth place finishers are. There’s a surprising amount of support for Kofi Annan, for example, despite the fact that elsewhere in the report we learn that regard for the UN has fallen dramatically since the war.

And then there are the dismal results in Muslim countries. It’s at least understandable that Arafat and Chirac are highly regarded, but the widespread support for Osama bin Laden as a man trusted to do the right thing is just horrifying. Yeah, I know, blowback and all that, but it’s still pretty discouraging.

In fact, all the results in Muslim countries are pretty horrible. Long story short, they don’t like us, they don’t like Bush, they wish Iraq had put up a stiffer resistance, they don’t think we tried very hard to avoid civilian casualties, Iraq is worse off without Saddam than with him, and support for the war on terrorism is down considerably. Sure, opinions might bounce back some as memories of the war recede, but right now they’re really in the toilet. About the only good news is that most Muslims think that Western style democracy can work in their countries.

And while this is probably not news, the absolute worst set of opinions (from an American perspective, anyway), comes from residents of the Palestinian Authority. They don’t trust the UN, they don’t trust the U.S., 71% admire Osama bin Laden, only 17% think a Palestinian state can coexist with Israel, and only 6% have a favorable view of the U.S. This is hardly surprising in light of another poll result: everyone thinks the United States favors Israel over the Palestinians too much. Even Israelis think so!

On another front, only 55% of Americans think religion should be kept separate from government. That’s surprisingly low.

And for one final discouraging ? but not surprising ? statistic, there are still an awful lot of bigots all over the world. The chart on the right shows how many people thought various minority groups had a “bad influence” on their country. In America, 12% thought this about blacks and 21% about Hispanics, and it just gets worse from there: 26% in Britain (blacks/Asians), 41% in Germans (Turks), 51% in France (North Africans), and 80% in Italy (Albanians).

There’s plenty of good stuff in this report, so check it out yourself if you’re interested. It’s one of those things where you can browse around and find an interesting little nugget on every page.