September 8, 2005


Bin Laden & Co. lose market share (Jonathan Gurwitz, 9/08/05,

In a videotape that bin Laden released in late 2001, he told his followers, "When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse."

It's a troglodytic variation of a simple maxim: Everyone loves a winner. It's why Wheaties puts Tim Duncan, Kirk Gibson and Carly Patterson on its boxes rather than Mike Tyson, John Rocker and Tonya Harding.

Islamic extremists have their own version of the breakfast of champions. Images of 9-11, of beheadings and from bombings in Bali, Madrid, London and everywhere else are their trademark. These acts of inhuman violence all accomplished tactical goals. Yet they were also all in service to the larger strategic goal of showing Islamism to be an uncompromising and inevitable victor.

At the end of the day, bin Laden and his associates are in the public relations game. So the recently released results of a long-term metasurvey conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project will come as a major disappointment to the mullah marketers.

The survey's most significant finding: Support for acts of terrorism in defense of Islam has dramatically declined in most Muslim countries.

Between 2002 and 2005, the number of respondents who endorsed the use of violence against civilians dropped from 73 percent to 39 percent in Lebanon; 33 percent to 25 percent in Pakistan; and 27 percent to 15 percent in Indonesia. Only Jordanians notched an appreciable increase in support of terrorism.

On the specific issue of supporting suicide bombings against U.S. forces and their allies in Iraq, there is another huge decline. Over the past year, the number of respondents who said such suicide attacks are justifiable dropped from 66 percent to 56 percent in Morocco; 70 percent to 49 percent in Jordan; 46 percent to 29 percent in Pakistan; and 31 percent to 24 percent in Turkey.

Bin Laden's stature has also taken a big hit since 2003. The percentage of respondents with great or some confidence in bin Laden as a world leader has dropped by 23 points in Indonesia, 23 points in Morocco, 8 points in Turkey and 12 points in Lebanon.

As support for the Islamist agenda has waned, another survey finds perceptions of the United States improving. Since 2003, there has been an impressive rise in favorable opinion about the United States in Indonesia, Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon and Jordan. Not coincidentally, large and growing numbers of Muslims see democracy as a suitable form of governance.

More news that bodes ill for Islamists: People under 35 are more likely to hold favorable views of the United States than older people.

Your standing would take a hit too if a cave was collapsed on you by the US Air Force.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 8, 2005 12:24 PM

Wait a minute -- I think the OBL tape that came out just before the 2004 election actually was him, and really had been made in 2004. So we know that he didn't die in a collapsed cave a Tora Bora. I really do think we know that now.

Posted by: rds at September 8, 2005 12:46 PM


Posted by: oj at September 8, 2005 12:51 PM

The tape that was shot from about a hundred yards away, with a wee little fellow in robes with a beard way in the distance?

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at September 8, 2005 12:56 PM

But the CIA says it's a slam dunk it's him....

Posted by: oj at September 8, 2005 1:04 PM

Tonya Harding is a winner. Did you see how she demolished Paula Jones.

BTW the poll numbers seem surprisingly supportive of suicide bombing and terrorism. Silly me I thought that a poll of civilians might show 90+% opposition to "violence against civilians"

Posted by: h-man at September 8, 2005 2:22 PM

Why? what were the recent poll numbers on regrets over Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Posted by: oj at September 8, 2005 2:27 PM

In Hiroshima and Nagasaki there is considerable opposition. I would think Arab countries might have the same self interest.

Posted by: h-man at September 8, 2005 3:00 PM

Wow! Only 24% in Turkey ... our friends. And OBL's popularity declined a wopping 8% there. He's doing better there than GWB is doing here at home. No wonder the EU wants them in. And they earned their bones pulling the rug out from under us in Iraq ... our allies.

Posted by: petulant chicken necked Hawk at September 8, 2005 4:46 PM



Posted by: oj at September 8, 2005 5:08 PM

In order to "attack" Americans etc, they have consistently slaughtered innocent Arab civilians. So you're telling me that that 49% of Jordanians approve of that overall strategy. It would seem to me that Osama has a lot of material to work with.

Posted by: h-man at September 8, 2005 8:38 PM

We had to kill a lot of Americans to get to the Japs.

Posted by: oj at September 8, 2005 9:01 PM

We did?

Posted by: AllenS at September 9, 2005 8:39 AM

He means Pearl Harbor. Don't even wade into that swamp.

Posted by: joe shropshire at September 9, 2005 1:48 PM
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