Despite Years of Terror Scares, Public’s Concerns Remain Fairly Steady
Since 9/11, there is little evidence that close calls in the U.S. or terrorist attacks overseas have led to a fundamental change in the public’s worries about terrorism. Also, Americans are divided over whether the U.S. is winning or losing its campaign against terrorism.
Muslim Publics Divided on Hamas and Hezbollah
While Hamas and Hezbollah continue to receive mixed ratings from Muslim publics around the globe, opinions of al Qaeda and bin Laden are consistently negative. Meanwhile, most Muslims surveyed welcome a significant role for Islam in their countries’ politics, and most also say democracy is preferable to any other kind of government.
Continued Positive Marks for Government Anti-Terror Efforts
The federal government continues to get positive marks for efforts to reduce the threat of
terrorism although the partisan gap has reversed since the Bush years. But many Americans say luck is a big reason why the U.S. has not suffered a major attack at home since 2001.
The Public’s Political Agenda
Strengthening the nation’s economy and improving the job situation continue to top nation’s priority list. However, shifts have occurred on the priority give to two issues: energy (down) and the budget deficit (up). Extremely large partisan gaps exist on the importance of health care and global warming.
Obama Image Unscathed By Terrorism Controversy
The government’s ratings for reducing the threat of terrorism have slipped, and Americans are increasingly more concerned with safety than civil liberties. Domestically, few see an upside to health care reform, and the national mood remains grim. Yet President Obama’s political standing is little affected, and his personal image remains positive.
Little Support for Terrorism Among Muslim Americans
The Pew Research Center’s comprehensive portrait of the Muslim American population suggests that, despite recent events, America is less likely to be a fertile breeding ground for terrorism than are Muslim minority communities in other countries.
U.S. Seen as Less Important, China as More Powerful
A new survey of both the public and members of the Council on Foreign Relations finds an increasingly isolationist sentiment among Americans. The public also differs with CFR members on increasing troop levels in Afghanistan, the threat posed by China and the use of torture.
Modest Rise In Concern About Islamic Extremism
Just more than half (52%) of Americans say they are very concerned about the possible rise of Islamic extremism in the U.S., up from 46% in April 2007.
Americans and Western Europeans Agree on Afghanistan-Pakistan Extremist Threat
While both Americans and Western Europeans generally believe the “Af-Pak” region potentially poses significant threats to national security, they do not share a common view about the deployment of military forces in Afghanistan.
Declining Support for bin Laden and Suicide Bombing
Confidence in al Qaeda’s leader has dropped considerably in recent years, particularly in Indonesia, Pakistan and Jordan. Violence against civilians in defense of Islam is also increasingly seen as never justified.