America's Views Of Causes
Of 911 Sharply At Odds
With World
By Charles R. Smith

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - American opinion makers differ sharply with foreign colleagues over whether U.S. policies were a major cause of the Sept. 11 attacks, with a majority of non-Americans believing such policies were responsible, a major opinion poll said on Wednesday.
The Pew Global Attitudes Project poll found that only 18 percent of American respondents believed U.S. policies brought on the attacks, while 58 of non-Americans believed they were responsible.
The poll question did not specify which ``policies'' were involved.
It also found sharp differences between the two groups on whether the war on global terrorism in Afghanistan should be expanded to Iraq and Somalia. Half of American respondents urged the action, while only 29 percent of non-Americans supported expansion.
The wide ranging poll questioned 40 Americans and 10 people in each of 23 other nations from Nov. 12 to Dec. 13. The respondents were described as ``political, media, cultural, business and government leaders.''
The poll was conducted in association with the International Herald Tribune newspaper.
In another stark contrast of attitudes, 70 percent of Americans believed U.S. support for Israel was a reason why Americans were disliked, but only 29 percent of non-Americans shared that view.
The poll said even in Muslim nations only 57 percent of respondents judged U.S. support for the Jewish state as a reason for disliking the United States.
However, 73 percent of non-Americans felt the United States was too supportive of Israel while only 35 percent of Americans believed there was too much support.
There was almost unanimous agreement between both American and non-American respondents that recent events had not significantly slowed the pace of globalization.
The poll said 10 percent of Americans believed globalization was a ``major cause'' of terrorism while 35 percent said it was a ``minor cause.'' Among non-Americans, 19 percent judged globalization as a major cause and 41 percent as a minor cause.
``The spread of American culture through movies, TV and music is at most a minor reason for animosity toward the U.S., according to foreign influentials (opinion makers),'' said a statement issued with the poll.
How The World Sees The US And September 11
By Brian Knowlton
International Herald Tribune
WASHINGTON World opinion leaders give strong support in principle to the U.S.-led war on terrorism, but they oppose attacks on countries beyond Afghanistan and say the campaign is yet another example of what they view as America's troubling tendency to act unilaterally, according to a new survey in 24 countries.
The poll of 275 opinion leaders, conducted by the International Herald Tribune and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, reveals disagreements between America and other countries on whether U.S. policies played a significant role in fueling terrorists' anger against the United States.
Asked if many or most ordinary people consider U.S. policies to be "a major cause" of the Sept. 11 attacks, fewer than 1 in 5 respondents from America said they do. But in the rest of the world, nearly 3 out of 5 agreed that they would.
The survey also highlights anew a large gap between the way Americans believe they are seen abroad and the way others see the United States. While not a single American respondent believed the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan would be widely considered as an overreaction, about 4 in 10 non-Americans saw them as such, including 6 in 10 in Islamic countries.
Andrew Kohut, director of the non-profit Pew center, noted as particularly striking the finding that two-thirds or more of respondents outside the United States said it was "good that Americans now know what it's like to be vulnerable."
Madeleine Albright, the former U.S. secretary of state, said that result was "clearly the most disturbing part of this" but observed that such a response may be an unavoidable side-effect of the end of the Cold War. "It was very different when you had two superpowers, and observers could divide their animosity between one or the other," Mrs. Albright said. She suggested that it is human for people now to focus their resentment on "the big guy on the block."
The polling revealed a strong sense around the world that the events of Sept. 11 had opened a new chapter in world history, that nothing would again be the same.
It found strong support for the U.S. war on terrorism, when the fight was described in broad terms. About 6 in 10 of non- Americans said that most or many ordinary people believed that "the U.S. is doing the right thing for the world by fighting terrorism." Support rose to 9 in 10 in Western Europe.
But support tumbled when respondents were asked whether the United States and its allies should attack countries like Iraq and Somalia if they are found to have supported terrorism. While half of American respondents said those countries should be attacked in that case, the comparable figure was less than 3 in 10 outside the U.S.
Among Americans, 7 in 10 believed that the United States is taking into account its partners' interests in the fight against terrorism. But among those surveyed abroad more than 6 in 10 said instead that the United States was "acting mainly on its own interests."
The results were based on telephone interviews conducted from Nov. 12 to Dec. 13 under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates with 275 influential people in politics, media, business, culture and government.
The samples were developed by researcher organizations in each of the 24 countries surveyed, and evaluated and approved by the Princeton survey group.
Americans in the survey said that President George W. Bush had been fully justified in launching the global war on terrorism after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, and they also spoke with enormous confidence of the U.S. capacity to prevail in Afghanistan.
Nearly all of the interviews were completed after the Afghan capital, Kabul, had fallen and left the ruling Taliban militia in full retreat.
The poll revealed mostly favorable opinions of the United States, when the question was put broadly.
In Europe, Latin America and Asia, 60 to 80 percent of interviewees said that people had very favorable or mostly favorable opinions of the United States.
In the Middle East and the Islamic world as a whole, the numbers fell to around 5 in 10.
But the findings again underscored the divide between Americans' idea of their image and role in the world, and the way the world says it views them.
Americans believed overwhelmingly that resentment of their country's overarching power is the chief reason they are disliked. Nine in 10 listed that factor first.
They saw U.S. support of Israel as the second leading factor, with 7 in 10 naming it.
Yet, barely more than half of non-Americans listed resentment of U.S. power as a major reason for disliking the country, and only 3 in 10 cited U.S. support of Israel.
Far more salient, in non-American eyes, was the sense that the United States bears some responsibility for the gap between the world's rich and poor, and that the world's wealthiest country does too little to help the least-advantaged.
Six in 10 respondents in both Western Europe and the Middle East called that a major cause for dislike of the United States.
Americans saw that as a problem, but less so: Only 4 in 10 listed it.
"There's a big gap in this issue of whether we Americans are contributing to the economic polarization of the planet," Mr. Kohut said. "We see ourselves as doing good works, and working on behalf of global issues, and the rest of the world doesn't see it that way."
Mrs. Albright said, "There's a sense that we have all these things-wealth, opportunity, technological prowess-but we basically don't share."
Asked the major reasons people like the United States, Americans themselves were more likely than others to cite American democratic ideals, U.S. good works around the world, and the opportunities offered by the country.
Non-Americans were more than twice as likely as Americans to say that U.S. scientific and technological innovation were key reasons to like the United States.
Broad approval of the United States concealed many areas of criticism and discontent with the United States. There was a far greater tendency abroad to find that U.S. policy had contributed to the country's problems with terrorism.
Trying to explain the gap, Samuel Wells, associate director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said that Americans were relatively unaware of how many Muslims "were terribly upset at the carryover from the Gulf War," including the continued U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf.
The divergence in views over whether the U.S. was acting in a unilateral way appeared to mirror the grumbling heard in some European capitals as the United States formed a broad international coalition against terrorism but then drew slowly on its allies' offers of material support.
The poll did not examine the role of, or support for, President George W. Bush, as did an IHT/Pew Poll in August.But an earlier finding - that 7 in 10 West Europeans felt that Mr. Bush made decisions "entirely on U.S. interests" - was echoed in the latest results: More than 6 in 10 West European opinion leaders said that the United States was "acting mainly on its own interests" in the war on terrorism; fewer than 3 in 10 Americans shared that view.
Non-U.S. respondents were also far less sanguine than were Americans about the potential of the recent conflict to improve long-term U.S. relations with Russia and China, both of which offered some support for the anti-terror war.
While nearly two-thirds of Americans expected closer relations, only 3 in 10 East Europeans and Russians did, as did a little more than 1 in 4 Asians.
Because some of the surveying was conducted before the full success of the U.S.-led military campaign became known, Mr. Kohut believes that some of the results could be slightly less favorable to the United States than they might be if a similar survey were taken now.
But even with America's success, it's going to have its critics, Mr. Kohut said. That represents the fact that the United States is "playing the role of Rome, and the reaction, even in quarters thought to be friendly to us, is not always so friendly."
Copyright © 2001 The International Herald Tribune

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