August 21, 2005

IT'S ZERO IN INCHES TOO:

Of Minds and Metrics (Michael Barone, 8/21/05, US News)

Metrics are hard to come by in the war on terrorism. We can know the number of improvised explosive devices that go off in Iraq and the number of suicide bombers there, but we can only guess at whether these numbers represent the last throes of a terrorist movement or its continuing growth. We can count the number of days the Iraqi parliament has moved the deadline for drafting a constitution--seven, as this is written--but cannot be sure what the effect of a finally drafted constitution will be. We can note that some 220,000 Iraqis took part in deliberations over the constitution and that the Iraqi electricity supply now exceeds that of prewar levels.

But the most important changes occurring, not just in Iraq but across the Muslim world, are changes in people's minds. These are harder, but not impossible, to measure. 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. Now comes 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.


Of course, for the vast majority of Americans the only metric they actually care about, quiite sensibly, stands at zero; the number of fellow citizens killed in Islamicist attacks on our soil since 2001.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 21, 2005 6:50 PM
Comments

Zero only if you don't count this.

Posted by: H.D. Miller at August 21, 2005 11:21 PM

Even if.

Posted by: oj at August 21, 2005 11:28 PM
« OFFERINGS TO ZEUS | Main | THE WAR BETWEEN THE SECTS: »