According to a new public opinion poll of Pakistani citizens, Osama bin Laden has a higher approval rating in Pakistan, 46 percent, than does Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, 38 percent.
This is potentially disastrous because Pakistan is home to two things: (1) nuclear weapons, (2) al Qaeda’s leadership. If Indonesia or Libya held widespread popular support for bin Laden, it wouldn’t be nearly as big a deal.
All I can say is, it’s a good thing America is seen as a force for good in the world, a force willing to use positive incentives and diplomacy to reassure the Pakistani people that the extreme ideology of Osama bin Laden is a road to ruin, and that embracing the fragile democracy headed by Musharraf may someday lead them to become the strong and vibrant participatory society we are ourselves.
Oh wait. That’s not right at all. And President Bush’s approval rating in Pakistan, in the same public opinion poll, is nine percent. Nine percent! We’ve screwed things up so badly across the world, we don’t have the cache to fix our most dire problems.