James Forsyth

Some good news from the Middle East

Some good news from the Middle East
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The polling of the Pew Global Attitudes Project is probably the most comprehensive guide we have to global public opinion. This year’s survey is mostly attracting headlines because of the way in which Obama has transformed views of the United States; 86 percent of Brits are now confident that the US President will do the right thing in world affairs compared to just 10 percent in the final year of the Bush presidency (see table below). But interestingly a majority in pretty much every country surveyed, including Britain, disapproves of his decision to send more troops to Afghanistan.

However, what really stood out to me from the report was this finding:

“There is as much support for the free market in the Middle East as there is in Western Europe. And a higher percentage of Palestinians (82%) than any Western European public agrees that people are better off in a free market economy, even though some are rich and some are poor.”

This is encouraging. If Middle Eastern economies modernised, that could be the beginning of a virtuous cycle in the region. However, of course, in the many Middle Eastern societies that are not democratic, public opinion has a limited impact.

PS The survey also shows that only South Koreans are more negative about their national economy than the British.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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