Daily Archives: November 19, 2007

Gideon Rachman

Critics of the "war on terror" – like me – have a favourite cliche. The battle is ultimately about "hearts and minds". Bush has got it all wrong because he has "over-militarised" the conflict.

The conventional wisdom is that the US is going down to a catastrophic defeat in the battle for Muslim opinion. The recent resignation of Karen Hughes from the State Department – she was in charge of US public diplomacy – was seen as evidence of this.

But – actually – there is interesting evidence that America is doing a lot better on the hearts-and-minds front than is generally acknowledged. This first occurred to me a couple of weeks ago, when I was writing a column on Pakistan, and turned to the Pew polls of global opinion. Normally, if you are looking to prove American unpopularity around the world, Pew is a reliable source of bad news. And indeed, the approval ratings for America in places like Turkey and Pakistan – not to mention the Arab world – are as low as you might expect.