War on Terrorism Has Not Made Public Feel Safer

by  Esther Schrader
PIPA is a joint program of the Center on Policy Attitudes (COPA) and the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM), School of Public Affairs, University of Maryland.       War on Terrorism Has Not Made Public Feel ...
PIPA is a joint program of the Center on Policy Attitudes (COPA) and the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM), School of Public Affairs, University of Maryland.


War on Terrorism Has Not Made Public Feel Safer

Majority Thinks Bush is Overemphasizing Assertive and Military Approaches

Perceives Growing Criticism in Islamic World of US Foreign Policy, Creating Favorable Climate for Terrorist Groups

Worries USA Patriot Act Provisions Have Gone Too Far But Want More Priority on Homeland Security


Two years after September 11, despite the various high-profile efforts of the war on terrorism, 76% of Americans say that over the last two years they have not come to feel safer from the threat of terrorism, according to a new PIPA/Knowledge Networks poll of 1,217 Americans, conducted August 26 through September 3. A repeat of a trendline question asked regularly over the last two years also found no reduction in concern about the possibility of terrorist attacks against the US.

A majority thinks the Bush administration is overemphasizing assertive and military approaches. Fifty-eight percent said that in the effort to fight terrorism, the Bush administration should put more emphasis on diplomatic and economic methods, while only 35% thought there should be more emphasis on military methods. In general, over the last two years 54% said that the Bush administration has been too assertive in relation to other countries, while 14% said it was too cooperative; and 28% said it has the right balance.

Sixty-four percent said that US military presence in the Middle East increases rather than decreases the likelihood of terrorist attacks against the US, and 64% think that the US should reduce its military presence there over the next 5-10 years. Fifty-eight percent said that "The US is playing the role of world policeman in the Middle East more than it should be."

A very strong majority believes that reactions to US foreign policy in the Islamic world are creating conditions that make it easier for terrorist groups to grow. Sixty-five percent perceive that in the Islamic world since September 11, feelings toward US foreign policy have grown worse, and 73% think that the majority of people there share many of al- Qaeda's feelings toward the US. An overwhelming 77% believes that "when there are widespread negative feelings in the Islamic world toward US foreign policy ... this creates a climate in which it is easier for terrorist groups to recruit new members and raise funds."

Majorities think the US should make greater efforts to improve relations with people in the Islamic world (78% in favor), and 60% reject the idea that an underlying clash of cultures makes it impossible to find common ground.

On the domestic front the public, has grown cool toward provisions of the USA Patriot Act. Two-thirds are concerned that removing limitations on the government's ability to monitor and detain individuals may lead the government to go too far. When presented the arguments about the USA Patriot Act, 52% side with those who say that it has gone too far in compromising constitutional rights. Support for further removing limits on US government powers to monitor and detain individuals is extremely low (28%). Eight in ten think that American citizens detained under suspicion of being part of a terrorist group should have the right to meet with a lawyer and three in four are not aware that, with the USA Patriot Act, this is not the case.
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For more information on the PIPA/KN study see
Report of Findings
Questionnaire
Media Release


Update on US Public Attitudes on International Trade

As the World Trade Organization meets in Cancun, Mexico, PIPA is releasing an update of its comprehensive analysis of US public opinion on international trade as part of its Americans and the World Digest.

A new development is that more Americans have come see other countries as fair traders. Perceptions of specific trading countries have improved significantly. Most dramatically, a plurality now views Japan as fair in its trade practices. This is also true for Mexico. While a majority still sees China as an unfair trader, the size of this majority has dropped. A larger majority now views the European Union's trade policies as fair toward the US. Overall, a modest majority now recognizes that the other countries do not benefit from trade more than the US. For details, see "Reservations About the Effects of Trade in Practice" in International Trade.

The Americans and the World Digest
A source of comprehensive information on US public opinion on international issues.

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