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Adjusting American foreign policy

With a hat tip to Captain Ed, this news from the Washington Post, hardly a bastion of pro-Bush American conservatism:

Osama bin Laden's standing has dropped significantly in some key Muslim countries, while support for suicide bombings and other acts of violence has "declined dramatically," according to a new survey released today.

In a striking finding, predominantly Muslim populations in a sampling of six North African, Middle East and Asian countries also shared to "a considerable degree" Western nations' concerns about Islamic extremism, the survey found. Many in those Muslim nations see it as threat to their own country, the poll found.

Compared with previous surveys, the new poll also found growing majorities or pluralities of Muslims surveyed now say democracy can work in their countries and is not just a political system for the West. Support for democracy was in the 80 percent range in Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco; in Pakistan and Turkey, where significant numbers of respondents were unsure, it rated 43 percent and 48 percent respectively.

"They are not just paying lip service. They are saying they specifically want a fair judiciary, freedom of expression and more than one party to participate in elections. It wasn't just a vague concept," said Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center and director of the project. "U.S. and Western ideas about democracy have been globalized and are in the Muslim world."

Note that they are not secularizing:

At the same time, however, most Muslims surveyed believe Islam is playing an increasing role in politics, which they view as a positive shift in response to economic problems, growing immorality and concern about Western influence. Jordan was the only exception to the trend.

Now what was it that our Canadian international affairs pundit, Gwynne Dyer, said?

Blair, like Bush, pretends that the current crop of terrorists are unmotivated, basically inexplicable people whose attacks have nothing whatever to do with American or British foreign policy in the Middle East. They are just evil people who "hate our freedoms." It's a handy explanation that avoids all those awkward public debates about foreign policy, and it works pretty well in America.

The chattering classes in Canada and Europe take it as an article of faith that in the Middle East, American support for Israel and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq are bad things, and if it weren't for those bad things, terrorism would disappear.

"Ignore Libya's capitulation to the nuclear watchdogs. Ignore the massive changes underway in Lebanon and Syria. Don't worry about the genocidal slaughter that would take place in Israel if Hamas had its way. Listen to us! We know right and wrong are nothing more than social constructs, and to try to give democracy to these people is a result of misguided colonial thinking by misogynistic white males driven by the lust for oil, and in any case, everything awful is America's fault. And oh yeah, Bush equals Hitler."

Guess what? The chattering classes are right in a way. American foreign policy will result in more terrorism, starting now. That's because the terrorists see their hold loosening. The populations that once gave them support are now demanding a rational life. The governments that once shielded them are losing the war for the hearts and minds of their people.

All because of American foreign policy.

The terrorists will lash out, and more people might die. But to concede to them now is to seize defeat from the jaws of victory. Funny thing is, I have a feeling more than a few members of the chattering class wouldn't mind that. For these people, there are things worse than allowing the scourge of terrorism to continue, and the worst of these would be to be proven wrong.

In fact, this same survey asked Canadians about that:

Eight-in-ten Canadians believe their government made the right decision not to use military force against Iraq. This is up significantly from 65% in 2003.

A majority of Canadians (57%) now favor Canada taking a more independent approach from the U.S. to security and diplomatic affairs, up from 43% two years ago.

Canadians, once among the strongest U.S. allies in the war on terror, are now about evenly split on the issue, with 47% opposing the U.S.- led effort and 45% in favor. That represents a significant reversal from May 2003, when more than two-thirds of Canadians backed the war on terror (68%).

Here's to America and to holding the course.

[Other takes on this news: 1 2]

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