My editors are a little tired of my write-ups of recent polls, so I’ve spared them yet another. Still, a new survey by the venerable Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) that was released last Thursday deserves some attention.
While the poll, which was conducted Aug 19-25, deals with a number of 9/11-related issues, several key findings jumped out at me.
Most important, the poll found that 71 percent of respondents believe that the U.S. “over-invested” resources in some responses — mainly in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the costs involved in supporting allies in these efforts — to the 9/11 attacks. Nearly six in ten (59 percent) said that these investments had contributed either “some” (19%) or “a lot” (40%) to the country’s current economic problems. Democrats and independents were somewhat more likely to take that position than Republicans who were generally more supportive.
More strikingly, 66 percent of all respondents said they believed that “U.S. power and influence in the world” has decreased over the past decade, compared to only 12 percent who said they had increased, and 21 percent who said it had remained the same. But the poll found that those who believed that U.S. power has declined were “highly correlated” with those who said Washington had “over-invested” in its response to the 9/11 attacks.
The survey also found that views of Israel, while still generally quite favorable, have slipped over the last several months (65% favorable, including 23% “very favorable,” according to a CNN poll in May, down to 56% favorable, 15% “very favorable,” according to the PIPA poll. Six in ten (61%) said they believe the U.S. should be even-handed in its approach to the Israel-Palestinian conflict — another example of how the views of the general public are not translated into policy — while 27 percent said it should lean toward Israel and 5% toward the Palestinians. These percentages are broadly consistent with other surveys taken over the last couple of years. There are major partisan differences, however. An average of 69 percent of Democrats and independents say they prefer an even-handed approach, while Republicans are about equally divided on the question.
On the depressing side, the survey found that nearly half of the general public (46%) believee that Iraq gave al Qaeda either substantial support (31%) before the U.S. invasion or that it was directly involved in 9/11 (15%). These percentages are virtually unchanged from late 2004. Similarly, nearly half — 47% — said they believe that Iraq either had actual WMD (26%) or had a major WMD program (21%). One in three respondents said Iraq was engaged in some limited activities that could be used to develop WMD but not an active program, while 13% said there were no WMD activities at the time of the invasion.
In any event, if you like polls about these issues, you should look at this one.