Michael Barone at Real Clear Politics cites research by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, arguing that:
Two generations ago, Americans, at the cost of hundreds of thousands of deaths, changed minds in Germany and Japan. The Pew Global Project Attitude's metrics give us reason to believe that today's Americans, at far lower cost, are changing minds in the Muslim world.
There are several problems with this thesis. Barone notes that Pew surveys show a decline in the approval rating for "violence against civilians in the defense of Islam" in most Muslim countries (with the notable exception of Jordan). This is undoubtedly a hopeful development, but Barone makes no clear case that it may be attributed to US actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. The case is equally strong that the actions of Islamic extremists are the root cause of this change, as the decline is most dramatic in nations whose own civilians have been the target of Islamist terrorist attacks.
Barone notes also that "when asked whether democracy was a Western way of doing things or could work well in their own country, between 77 percent and 83 percent in Lebanon, Morocco, Jordan and Indonesia say it could work in their country -- in each case a significant increase from earlier surveys." Again, this is all well and good. But Barone disingenuously dismisses the fact that confidence in democracy has actually declined in both Turkey and Pakistan(from 50 to 48% in the former case, from 57% to a shocking 43% in the latter), arguably the US's closest allies in the "war on terror." Though a plurality in both countries still express confidence in democracy, the Pew report itself shows that majorities or pluralities in all the nations surveyed have had confidence in democracy going back to before the invasion of Iraq. Barone would contend that the net decrease in Pakistan and Turkey is the result of domestic affairs while the net increase in Indonesia, Morocco, Lebanon and Jordan is the result of US actions, but this is a highly selective and speculative conclusion that can not be substantiated without further research.
The survey results that most unequivocally support Barone's thesis are the decrease both in "unfavorable" views of the US and approval of suicide attacks against US soldiers in Iraq. The former "change" is somewhat dubious, however, in that the US was still looked upon unfavorably by a clear majority in all of the nations surveyed but one (Morocco- 49%-44% favorable). Even if the invasion of Iraq can be credited for this change, one can not help but wonder whether the same incremental shift might have been achieved by less destructive means. The decrease in approval of suicide bombings in Iraq is more substantively encouraging, but here again Barone's optimism draws upon an incomplete picture. Though support for suicide bombings is down across the boards, a majority still express approval of the bombings in Morocco, Lebanon, and Jordan. The only country where the approval-disapproval ration has reversed is Pakistan (in 2004 Pakistanis surveyed favored the bombins 46%-36%, now they oppose them 29%-56%). What this says about Pakistani attitudes toward US policy is mitigated, however, by the fact that Pakistan is one of only two countries surveyed in which confidence in Osama bin Laden has risen (+6%, a statistic made more worrisome by the high probability that Pakistan is the nation where bin Laden currently resides).
Moreover, support for the insurgency was a majority opinion in all the countries for which statistics were availabe but one (Turkey) as late as March of 2004. This would indicate that Muslim attitudes toward the invasion of Iraq are malleable. Developments since 2004 have decreased opposition to the Coalition mission (though again, such opposition remains a majority opinion in half of the countires surveyed), but subsequent developments could cause a reversal of that trend.
Barone would read the Pew statistics as evidence of the success of US policies since 9/11. Unfortunately, they do not support either this conclusion or an argument for the wisdom of US policies in the first place.