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Policy Analysis

Policy Focus 104

Actions, Not Just Attitudes: A New Paradigm for U.S.-Arab Relations

David Pollock, Cole Bunzel, and Curtis Cannon

Also available in العربية

June 2010

The latest Pew poll on Middle Eastern political behavior illustrates the media's post-9/11 tendency to report on America's standing on the Arab street -- without analyzing whether attitudes toward the U.S. have any significant effect on actual Arab behavior. To remedy this striking diagnostic gap, The Washington Institute presents a study that utilizes hard statistics, unprecedented in scope and depth, to tackle the relationship between Arab political and economic activity on the one hand, and attitudes toward the United States expressed through public opinion polling on the other.

In Actions, Not Just Attitudes: A New Paradigm for U.S.-Arab Relations, Dr. David Pollock, a renowned expert on public opinion polling in the Arab world, presents and interprets massive databases that account for actual Arab political behavior at both official and popular levels, from twenty Arab states, over an entire decade. Concise case studies of a dozen key Arab countries complement the wealth of quantitative evidence that makes this report a unique and invaluable reference tool.

The conclusions of Actions, Not Just Attitudes run contrary to conventional wisdom and yet are uniquely compelling because they derive exclusively -- and refreshingly -- from factual record. Indeed, this solidly documented new study answers the questions that the media, and even government, are not asking.


Four appendices contain the raw data used for this study, as well as ancillary research material. These appendices are available for viewing or download.

  1. Arab Behavioral Index Datafiles (html)
  2. Arab Reform Index Datafiles (html)
  3. Arab Anti-American Protest Database (downloadable MS Access Database)
  4. Country Case Studies (pdf)


David Pollock is a senior fellow at The Washington Institute, focusing on the political dynamics of Middle Eastern countries. Previously, he served as senior advisor for the Broader Middle East at the State Department, providing policy advice on issues of democracy and reform in the region, with a focus on women's rights. He also helped launch the department's $15 million Iraqi Women's Democracy Initiative and the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council, working directly with advocates across the Middle East. An eminent scholar of public opinion and political behavior in the Middle East, he has authored many works on the subject, including the widely read Washington Institute publications Slippery Polls: Uses and Abuses of Opinion Surveys from Arab States and The 'Arab Street'? Public Opinion in the Arab World.

Cole Bunzel and Curtis Cannon are former Schusterman young scholars in the Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute.

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