America is Losing Popularity in the Muslim World, Except Where It’s Gaining

Here’s your buried lede of the week (actually of last week). On Februrary 21, the Times of London ran this headline…

Anti-American feelings soar among Muslims, study finds.
However, the poll being reported on didn’t justify the headline. Here are the raw numbers presented at the end of the online version of the article…
Percentage with unfavourable view of US in 2005 (all increased since 9/11 except where indicated):
  • Saudi Arabia: 79%
  • Jordan: 65%
  • Morocco: 49%
  • Iran 52%: (down from 63 in 2001)
  • Pakistan 65%: (down from 69 in 2001)
So unfavorable views of America are down in two of five countries surveyed – the smaller of which (Iran) has a population greater than the other three combined — and below 50% in a third, but the headline is that anti-American feelings are “soaring”.
The Iranian numbers are fascinating. It’s fair to say that America is more popular in Iran than George W. Bush is popular in America. More importantly, America is more popular in Iran now than it was before the invasion of Iraq. Isn’t that a fact worth noting, and something that seriously mitigates the idea that anti-Americanism is soaring?
Finally, the article describes the motivation of the poll as follows..
Researchers set out to examine the truth behind the stock response in the West to the question of when it will know it is winning the war on terror.
Isn’t one possible interpretation of this poll that there are a large number of Sunnis currently less interested in the War on Terror than they are in having the U.S. help them (unwittingly or not) in a war against the Shi’ites and that America’s attempt to play the role of an honest broker is winning at least some grudging support in Shi’ite-dominated Iran?

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