Madeleine Albright and Andrew Kohut

Excerpts from a Monitor breakfast on the Pew Global Attitudes project

Tuesday's breakfast guests are the leaders of the Pew Global Attitudes project.

The project's chair is Madeleine Albright, the 64th Secretary of State.

Secretary Albright is now a principal in her own strategic consulting firm, the Albright Group, as well as a professor at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and a distinguished scholar at the University of Michigan.

Andrew Kohut is the project director for the Global Attitudes effort.

He is currently Director of the Pew Research Center for The People & The Press. On his way to Pew, he served as President of The Gallup Organization and then as founder of Princeton Survey Research Associates. He was also founding director of surveys for the Times Mirror Center.

For further information on the survey, please visit: www.people-press.org.

On how world public opinion has changed since the war on Iraq:

Kohut: "The new May survey, the update, shows the world's public further divided by the Gulf War but at the same time the broader survey shows wide support for fundamental economic and political values that the US has long promoted....The very bad news is that there is a great deal of collateral damage to public opinion from the war in Iraq. The image of the United States has fallen even further. The current ratings are well below last year's measures in favorability ratings and last year's measures were well below what the State Department was showing in 1999 and 2000.

On US-European relations:

Kohut: "The headline we had last year when we talked to you that the attitude toward America has soured, well it has soured even further.... The rift between Americans and Western Europeans has widened. Large majorities of Europeans say they want a less-close diplomatic and security relationship with the United States and opinions are strained on both sides of the Atlantic. Only 53 percent of Americans say they want to continue a close relationship with the Europeans."

On US-Muslim relations:

Kohut: "Most dramatically, the bottom has fallen out of support for America in most of the Muslim world. Antagonism toward the United States has both deepened and widened."

On the US viewed as a threat:

Kohut: "Unlike anti-Americanism in other parts of the world, Muslim publics not only dislike the United States but they dislike Americans. The percentage of Muslims thinking we are a serious threat to Islam has increased in most countries. It goes as high as 97 percent in Jordan and 91 percent in the Palestinian Authority. Majorities in 7 of 8 Muslim populations even think that the US might become a military threat to their country."

On support for the United Nations:

Kohut: "Global public support for the United Nations has tumbled. Positive ratings for the UN have tumbled in nearly every country for which we have measures."

On a new world order:

Albright: "What is evident is that we are in the post, post 9-11 world. What we saw immediately after 9-11 was great sympathy for the United States, a gathering around in terms of dealing with the war on terrorism, and a sense that we all have to work together. That is gone. And I think these divisions are something that have to be focused on on both sides of the Atlantic...

What is also very interesting is something I never thought I would see which is the fear of American power. We have before seen American power as intervening on behalf of those who need help....I never thought I would see this fear of it [American power] and especially in the Muslim countries a fear actually of American military power and not just the dominance of our ideas."

On common ground:

Albright: "In many ways in terms of the relationship of God and society, and this will surprise you, we and the Muslim countries are closer to each other in terms of thinking that God is an important value than we are to the Europeans....There is a ton of stuff in [the survey data]. The main thing that I see in it, however, are the major divisions and the fear of American power."

On support for the war on terrorism:

Kohut: "In this survey we found softening support for the war on terrorism all around the world. In most of the Western countries and non-Muslim countries, smaller majorities continue to favor the US led war on terrorism but even smaller percentages in the Muslim world compared to last year say we think this is a good idea. Basically the Muslim public see the war on terrorism as the US picking on Muslim countries."

On the trouble the US is having finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq:

Albright: "When we were in office we did think they had weapons of mass destruction.... There was every reason to believe there were weapons of mass destructions. I personally agreed with the "why" of this war, I just never agreed with the timing of it and what next. I would not be quick to label this an intelligence failure. It is always the easy answer. But it is obviously worth looking into it."

On the cost of the United State's unpopularity in the world:

Albright: "I think there is a huge cost to it because Americans feel more comfortable in a world where we are not afraid to travel either domestically or abroad, where we are able to trade freely, and where we think that most of the world agrees with our values. It is not just altruism that makes you want to have that. It is that we feel more comfortable that way.

There is obviously already an impact on American products that are kind of emblematic of America, Coca Cola for instance, especially in the Muslim world.... Generally, it will affect American business, there is no question about it."

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