BBC global poll finds majority feel the US led Iraq invasion increased likelihood of terrorist attacks

Monday, March 6, 2006

Sixty percent of respondents in an international survey conducted for the BBC World Service felt that the likelihood of terrorist attacks around the world has been increased by the war in Iraq.

The international polling firm GlobeScan conducted the survey, which polled 41,856 residents of 35 countries between October 2005 and February 2006. Participants were asked, "Has the war in Iraq increased, decreased or had no effect on the likelihood of terrorist attacks around the world?"

Fifteen percent felt that the likelihood or terrorism had decreased; 12 percent felt there had been no effect; and 13 percent did not answer.

Out of the 35 countries polled, only Mexico and Nigeria thought the invasion lessened the likelihood of terrorist attacks. By contrast, 85 percent of Chinese respondents said they felt the invasion increased the likelihood of terrorist attacks.

Other questions asked in the poll found that 45 percent of respondents felt removing Saddam Hussein from power was a mistake, compared to 36 percent who felt the removal was the right decision. The poll also found that results were split on whether the foreign troops should remain in Iraq until the country is stable: 35 percent said they believed the troops should stay, 32 percent felt the troops should pull out within a few months, and 13 percent thought that a pull-out should occur within a few months unless the government of Iraq requested them to stay.

"It's official. Citizens worldwide think Western leaders have made a fundamental mistake in their war on terror by invading Iraq," Doug Miller, president of GlobeScan, said. "Short of the Iraqi government asking them to stay longer, people think the troops should leave," he said.

In the United States, the GlobeScan poll found that 55 percent thought chances of terror attacks were increased. In an unrelated poll conducted in the U.S. by CBS News, only 36 percent of U.S. respondents thought "the war is going well," and that 30 percent felt "Bush was doing a good job of handling the conflict." This U.S. poll also found that only 18 percent held a favorable view of Vice-President Dick Cheney.

In a televised interview with Elizabeth Vargas of ABC's World News Tonight which aired last Tuesday, President Bush said, "If I worried about polls, I wouldn't be doing my job," on the topic of his low U.S. approval ratings. "I think the American people — I know the American people want somebody to stand on principle, make decisions and stand by them and lead this world toward a more peaceful tomorrow, and I strongly believe we're doing that," he said.

"I've got ample [political] capital and I'm using it to spread freedom and to protect the American people, plus we've got a strong agenda to keep this economy growing." President Bush also said that Iraqis must choose between "chaos or unity."