- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 13, 2003

Two years after the September 11 terrorist attacks, Americans remain optimistic about globalization, but they are afraid it may not be such a good deal for the United States.

Americans also are more worried now about personally being caught in a terrorist attack, and less convinced of the United States’ ability to defeat terrorism, than they were in the aftermath of the attacks.

Those are some of the findings of the dozens of polls taken in the past few weeks to measure the mood of the country leading up to the two-year anniversary of the attacks. Taken together, they suggest a deep-seated ambivalence about how the nation and world are coping with terrorism and the broader questions raised by the attacks.

Americans increasingly see the attacks as a pivotal moment in U.S. history. An Ipsos Public Affairs poll showed 82 percent believe the event fundamentally changed the nation. And a RoperASW poll showed the attacks ranked as the most important event in U.S. history in the past 75 years.

But many citizens don’t think the nation has come to grips with the aftermath. A Gallup poll released this week found that 41 percent of Americans feel the nation is not back to normal yet — up from 34 percent who said that in March 2002.

The poll also found an increasing number of Americans say time has not yet “healed the wounds” of the attacks compared with the one-year anniversary last September.

As for Americans and their place in the world, a poll by Andres McKenna Research, sponsored in part by the Virtue Foundation, took a snapshot and found:

• Fifty percent said the world’s opinion of the United States has “gotten worse” since the attacks, while only 19 percent said it has improved.

• The nation is almost evenly split on whether the United States is obligated to intervene around the world, with 50 percent saying there is a moral obligation and 46 percent disagreeing.

• Americans said they are paying more attention to world news since the attacks, with 61 percent saying they are “more informed” about the world.

• About half of respondents said Americans don’t have a good understanding of other cultures. But by the same token, more than two-thirds said other cultures don’t understand or appreciate American values.

Michael McKenna, the pollster, said those results hint at a backlash against globalization and a sense that other nations don’t appreciate what America has to offer.

“There’s a sense the world just doesn’t sort of get it. They don’t get that we think our experiment is working pretty well, and they would be a heck of a lot better off if they would do some of the stuff we do,” he said.

He said that ambiguity showed in a question about globalization. One-third of respondents said September 11 made globalization more necessary, while another third said the attacks made globalization “more dangerous.”

Though it wasn’t one of the options asked, another 12 percent said the attacks make globalization both more necessary and more dangerous.

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