NationStates Jolt Archive

U.S. Image Up Slightly, But Still Negative - Pew Global Attitudes study

23-06-2005, 23:52
Interesting study.

U.S. Image Up Slightly, But Still Negative
American Character Gets Mixed Reviews

Released: 06.23.05

Introduction: 16-Nation Pew Global Attitudes Survey

Anti-Americanism in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, which surged as a result of the U.S. war in Iraq, shows modest signs of abating. But the United States remains broadly disliked in most countries surveyed, and the opinion of the American people is not as positive as it once was. The magnitude of America's image problem is such that even popular U.S. policies have done little to repair it. President George W. Bush's calls for greater democracy in the Middle East and U.S. aid for tsunami victims in Asia have been well-received in many countries, but only in Indonesia, India and Russia has there been significant improvement in overall opinions of the U.S.

Attitudes toward the U.S. remain quite negative in the Muslim world, though hostility toward America has eased in some countries. Many Muslims see the U.S. supporting democracy in their countries, and many of those who are optimists about the prospects for democracy in the Middle East give at least some credit to U.S. policies. But progress for America's image in these countries is measured in small steps; solid majorities in all five predominantly Muslim countries surveyed still express unfavorable views of the United States.

The polling in Western Europe, conducted in the weeks leading up to the decisive rejection of the European Union constitution by voters in France and the Netherlands, finds pockets of deep public dissatisfaction with national conditions and concern in several countries over immigration from the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe.

There are no signs, however, that Euro-skepticism about the EU has fueled a desire for a closer trans-Atlantic partnership. On the contrary, most Europeans surveyed want to take a more independent approach from the U.S. on security and diplomatic affairs.

Indeed, opinion of the U.S. continues to be mostly unfavorable among the publics of America's traditional allies, except Great Britain and Canada. Even in those two countries, however, favorable views of the U.S. have slipped over the past two years. Moreover, support for the U.S.-led war on terror has plummeted in Spain and eroded elsewhere in Europe.

Japan, France and Germany are all more highly regarded than the United States among the countries of Europe; even the British and Canadians have a more favorable view of these three nations than they do of America. Strikingly, China now has a better image than the U.S. in most of the European nations surveyed.

Attitudes toward the U.S. in the former Soviet bloc nations of Poland and Russia are much more positive than in most of Western Europe. In Russia, favorable opinion of its former Cold War adversary has swelled from 36% in 2002 to 52% currently. Opinions of the U.S. in Poland have declined since 2002, but still remain relatively positive (62%).

The latest survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, conducted among nearly 17,000 people in the United States and 15 other countries from April 20-May 31, finds that America's image is strongest in India. Fully 71% in India express a positive opinion of the United States, compared with 54% three years ago.

Positive opinions of the U.S. in Indonesia, which had plummeted to as low as 15% in 2003, also have rebounded to 38%. The U.S. tsunami aid effort has been widely hailed there; 79% of Indonesians say they have a more favorable view of the U.S. as a result of the relief efforts. With the exception of Christian opinion in Lebanon, views of the U.S. in other predominantly Muslim nations are more negative and have changed little. In Turkey, hostility toward the U.S. and the American people has intensified. Nearly half of Turks (46%) say they have a very unfavorable view of Americans, up from just 32% a year ago.

Yet there is modest optimism among Muslims that the Middle East will become more democratic. And even in countries like Jordan and Pakistan, where people have low regard for the U.S., many who believe the region will become more democratic give some credit to U.S. policies for making this possible. Roughly half of respondents in Jordan * and nearly two-thirds of Indonesians * think the U.S. favors democracy in their countries. About half of the public in Lebanon also takes that view. But on this question and others relating to opinions of the U.S., Lebanon's Muslim majority (about 60% of the population) is far more negative than its minority Christian population.

The survey finds that while China is well-regarded in both Europe and Asia, its burgeoning economic power elicits mixed reactions. Majorities or pluralities in France and Spain believe that China's growing economy has a negative impact on their countries. Respondents in the Netherlands and Great Britain have much more positive reactions to China's economic growth. Public opinion in the U.S. on this issue is divided * 49% view China's economic emergence as a good thing, while 40% say it has a negative impact on the U.S.

Whatever their views on China's increasing economic power, European publics are opposed to the idea of China becoming a military rival to the U.S, despite their deep reservations over American policies and hegemony. Solid majorities in every European nation * except Turkey * believe that China's emergence as a military superpower would be a bad thing. In Turkey and most other predominantly Muslim countries, where antagonism toward the U.S. runs much deeper, most people think a Chinese challenge to American military power would be a good thing.

Nonetheless, there is considerable support across every country surveyed, with the notable exception of the U.S., for some other country or group of countries to rival the United States militarily. In France, 85% of respondents believe it would be good if the EU or another country emerged as a military rival to the U.S.

Most Western Europeans want their countries to take a more independent approach from the U.S. on diplomatic and security affairs than it has in the past. The European desire for greater autonomy from the U.S. is increasingly shared by the Canadian public; 57% of Canadians favor Canada taking a more independent approach from the U.S., up from 43% two years ago. The American public, by contrast, increasingly favors closer ties with U.S. allies in Western Europe.

As in the past, the perception that the United States conducts a unilateral foreign policy is widely shared across the surveyed countries. Overwhelming percentages of people in Europe and the Middle East believe that the United States does not take their countries' interests into account when making foreign policy. Yet there are a few notable exceptions. Majorities in India (63%) and China2 (53%) believe the U.S. takes their respective countries' interests into account at least a fair amount. The percentage in Indonesia expressing that view has more than doubled since 2003 (from 25% to 59%), probably reflecting the overwhelmingly positive reaction in response to U.S. tsunami relief in that country.

The U.S. tsunami relief effort led to more favorable views of the U.S. for most nations surveyed. But goodwill generated by U.S. tsunami relief has been largely offset by the negative reactions to Bush's re-election and the continuing war in Iraq. Roughly three-quarters of the publics in Germany (77%), Canada (75%) and France (74%) say Bush's re-election has made them feel less favorable toward the U.S. And particularly in Western Europe, most of those who express an unfavorable view of the U.S. mostly blame Bush, rather than a more general problem with America.

The war in Iraq continues to draw broad international opposition, and there is scant optimism that the elections in that country this past January will foster stability. Even the American public now has diminished expectations that the January elections held in Iraq will lead to a more stable situation there. The United States and India are the only countries surveyed in which pluralities believe Saddam Hussein's removal from power has made the world a safer place.

While the war in Iraq is as unpopular in Europe as it was in 2003 and 2004, there is still majority support for the U.S.-led war on terrorism among Western publics that are otherwise highly critical of the U.S., notably in Germany and France. But support for the war on terrorism has all but evaporated in Spain since 2003 and, notably, Canadian opinion on the American-led war on terror is now evenly divided.

Mixed Views of the American People

The new poll finds Canadians holding increasingly negative views of both the U.S. and the American people.

In most Western countries surveyed, majorities associate Americans with the positive characteristics "honest," "inventive" and "hardworking." At the same time, substantial numbers also associate Americans with the negative traits "greedy" and "violent." Canadians, who presumably have the greatest contact with Americans, agree with Europeans on the negatives, but are less likely to view Americans as honest. And Canada is the only Western nation in which a majority (53%) regards Americans as rude.

Muslim publics, including Indonesians, are highly critical of Americans in many respects. In particular, they are much more likely than others to view the American people as immoral. Yet people in predominantly Muslim countries also see Americans as hardworking and inventive.

The Chinese are also largely critical of Americans. They are the least likely of these 16 publics to consider Americans hardworking (44%) and just over a third (35%) see Americans as honest. A majority of Chinese associate Americans with being violent (61%) and greedy (57%). The one positive trait most Chinese associate with Americans is inventive (70%).

By contrast, Indians hold largely positive views of the American people. Clear majorities see Americans as inventive, hardworking and honest (86%, 81% and 58% respectively). None of the negative traits is linked with Americans by a majority in India.

The American people's self assessment also identifies both virtues and faults. With respect to the latter, a large percentage of the U.S. public (70%) characterizes the American people as greedy, and many also see their countrymen as violent (49%).

The biggest gap between the way Americans are seen by other Western countries, and the way they see themselves, is with respect to religion. Majorities in France and the Netherlands and pluralities in Great Britain and Germany see the U.S. as too religious. By contrast, a 58% majority of Americans say their country is not religious enough. On this point, Muslims find themselves in rare agreement with the American public; majorities in Indonesia, Pakistan, Lebanon and Turkey all believe the U.S. is not religious enough.

America's international image problem is not lost on its own people. Just 26% of the U.S. public thinks the country is well-liked by people around the world. Only the Turks and Russians come close in seeing their country as internationally unpopular (30% and 32% well-liked, respectively). Canadians stand out for their nearly universal belief (94%) that other nations have a positive view of Canada.

The American public also looks at U.S. conduct in the world much differently than do publics in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. In response to a hypothetical question, Americans overwhelmingly (73%) see the U.S. as the major power most likely to come to the aid of people threatened by genocide. Only Poles, Canadians and Germans see the U.S. this way in any significant numbers. America evokes even less confidence with respect to the global environment. Fewer than one-in-ten Western Europeans surveyed most trust the U.S. in this regard. But 59% of Americans say they most trust the U.S. to do the right thing in protecting the world's environment.
24-06-2005, 00:16
Are we allowed to post inline pics?

anywayz , here are some figures from The Economist based on the study above.
24-06-2005, 00:27
some more from the same study

Impact of Newsweek/Quran Story

The Pew survey was conducted from late April through late May, a period in which deadly riots broke out in Afghanistan in reaction to a story in Newsweek that alleged that a copy of the Quran had been flushed down a toilet at the U.S. military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In Pakistan, there was a significant decline in the image of the U.S. after the Quran allegation became a major international story on May 11. Among those Pakistanis surveyed before May 11, the favorability rating of the U.S. was 30%. Among those interviewed on May 11 or later, the favorability rating fell to 16%.

However, the trend moved in the opposite direction in Jordan. Before May 11, just 9% of Jordanians had a favorable view of the U.S.; after May 11, that number rose to 26%. In the three other predominantly Muslim nations in this survey * Turkey, Indonesia and Lebanon * too few interviews were conducted after May 11 to provide a reliable basis for comparison.

Americans See U.S. as Unpopular

Americans harbor no illusions about the popularity of their country around the world. Nearly seven-in-ten (69%) say the U.S. is "generally disliked" by people in other countries; this is the most downbeat assessment of global popularity given by any national public in the survey.

In just two other countries * Turkey and Russia * does a majority of the public believe that their country is generally disliked by people in other countries, with 66% of Turks and 57% of Russians holding this view.

At the other end of the scale, Canadians believe by an overwhelming margin (94%) that their country is popular. Other national publics that believe their countries are popular around the world include Indonesia (86% say their country is generally liked), Jordan (84%), India (83%), the Netherlands (83%), Spain (80%), France (80%) and China (68%).

As a group, the Muslim countries surveyed spread out across the spectrum of self-assessed popularity, with Indonesians and Jordanians feeling extremely popular, while Pakistanis and Lebanese feel somewhat popular. In Lebanon, notably, Muslims are less certain of their popularity with only 44% saying they are liked by others, while two-thirds of Christians say so. Turks, however, feel unpopular.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

When it comes to people's attitudes toward their own countries, contrary to common belief that the French have an inordinately high opinion of themselves and their culture, France does not lead the self-popularity parade. That honor belongs to China, where 88% of Chinese report holding a favorable attitude toward their country. Second in line comes the U.S., where 83% of Americans hold their country in favorable regard. By comparison, the French favor France by a 74%-26% margin while the Germans take a positive, rather than negative, view of their country by only a modest 64%-34% margin. The German's self-assessment, however, is weighed down by the downbeat outlook of residents of the former East Germany, a bare majority of whom (51%) look favorably on their now unified country, compared with 68% of West Germans.

Germany's Popularity Paradox

Among Western European nations, Germany has by far the most tentative assessment of its global popularity. Only about half (51%) of Germans say their country is generally liked and nearly as many (43%) say it is generally disliked.

But it turns out that the Germans do not have an accurate fix on how the rest of the world sees them. They are much too self-deprecating. In fact, other Western European nations give Germany the highest global favorability ratings of any of the five leading nations (U.S., France, China, Japan and Germany) covered by the survey.

Particularly striking are the differences between the self-assessments and global assessments of neighbors Germany and France. Eight-in-ten French believe the world likes their country; while only about half of Germans think the world likes theirs. But Germany's favorability ratings exceed those of France in 10 of the 16 survey countries. In fact, even the French give Germany a higher favorability rating (89%) than they give their own country (74%). The Germans, however, return the favor, giving France a 78% favorability rating, higher than the 64% they give their own country.

another part

U.S. Still Land of Opportunity?

For much of its history, America has been considered a land of opportunity for immigrants from all over the world. But in this survey, when respondents were asked in an open-ended question to advise a young person where to move in order to lead a good life, Australia, Canada, Great Britain and Germany were all more frequently recommended as first choices than was the United States.

Only in India is the United States seen as the world's leading land of opportunity * 38% of Indians feel this way, the largest percentage of any public to agree on any single country as their top choice.

Australia is cited as the leading land of opportunity in four countries (Great Britain, Canada, Netherlands and Germany); Canada in three countries (U.S., France and China); Great Britain in two countries (Poland and Spain); and Germany in two countries (Russia and Turkey).

English-speaking countries generally dominate the ratings, but two Asian countries buck that trend, perhaps on the strength of a regional attraction to neighbors. China is the first choice among Pakistanis; Japan is the top choice of Indonesians.

Historic ties also appear to play a role in the rankings, with the Lebanese choosing France and the French choosing Canada. But in at least one case, the ratings seem to illustrate that the past is truly past. For their leading land of opportunity, Russians choose their former adversary, Germany. Consistent with current immigration patterns, Turks prefer Germany.

Although the U.S. is named as the top choice of just one country, it is the second or third choice of several others * Canada (second), Poland (second), China (where it is tied for second with Australia) and Germany (third).
24-06-2005, 00:34

III: Opinions of U.S. Policies

A continuing source of resentment toward the U.S. is the view that America pays little if any attention to the interests of other countries in making international policy decisions. Americans, as might be expected, do not subscribe to this view. Two-thirds of the U.S. public says the United States pays either a great deal (28%) or a fair amount (39%) of attention to the interests of other nations.

Majorities in only three other countries now share that opinion; India, where 63% say the U.S. pays a great deal or a fair amount of attention to their country's interests, Indonesia (59%), and China (53%). In line with the general upsurge of positive feelings toward the U.S. in both India and Indonesia, these percentages are up sharply from past Pew Global Attitudes surveys.

In addition, increasing numbers in Pakistan and Lebanon say the U.S. pays at least some attention to their countries' interests. About four-in-ten Pakistanis (39%) express that view, compared with 18% in 2004. There has been a comparable increase in Lebanon, though a majority of Lebanese still feel that the U.S. pays little or no attention to their interests. (However, among Lebanese Christians a solid majority (59%) feels that the U.S. is attentive to their country's concerns.) And, fewer than one-in-five in Jordan (17%) and Turkey (14%) think that the U.S. takes their interests into consideration in its international policymaking.

Perceptions of U.S. unilateralism remain widespread among the publics of America's traditional allies. In Germany, only 38% of respondents think the U.S. takes their country's interests into account, the highest percentage in Europe. In Canada, just 19% feel the U.S. takes Canadian interests into account to any substantial degree when making policy. While these views have remained fairly stable in France, Spain and Russia over the last few years, the numbers of those viewing the U.S. as self-centered in its foreign policymaking have risen substantially in Canada, Great Britain and Germany.

Dealing with the U.S.

Publics in predominantly Muslim countries are split as to whether their governments follow the U.S. policy lead too closely. Pluralities in Pakistan (45%) and Turkey (36%) fault their government for hewing too closely to U.S. policies.

But in Jordan 58% of the public says that their government either deals with the U.S. just about right (43%) or does not go along with the U.S. enough (15%). And in Indonesia and Lebanon, nearly six-in-ten would prefer either closer adherence to U.S. policy or maintenance of the status quo (59% Indonesia/55% Lebanon).

A More Democratic Middle East?

Publics in the predominantly Muslim countries covered by the survey hold mixed views on whether democracy's prospects are increasing or getting worse in the Middle East.

Pluralities in Lebanon (46%) * and a majority of Christians there (59%) * as well as in Indonesia (40%) say they are increasingly optimistic that the Middle East will become more democratic. Jordanians are divided between those who are becoming more optimistic and pessimistic while the publics in Turkey and Pakistan lean toward pessimism (although 34% of Pakistanis offer no opinion).

Among those expressing growing optimism about Middle East democracy, a 55% majority in Pakistan gives at least partial credit to U.S. policies for their more hopeful view, as do nearly half of both Jordanian and Lebanese optimists. But in Indonesia, despite its generally more favorable attitudes toward America, 63% of optimists give no credit to the U.S. for their higher hopes for Middle East democracy, as did 51% of Turks.

Among those reporting greater pessimism, large majorities (ranging as high as 75% in Lebanon, 83% in Turkey to an astounding 98% in Jordan) lay the blame for their lack of optimism about democracy in the Middle East at least partly on U.S. policies.

The U.S. is seen as backing democracy in Indonesia and Lebanon by clear majorities of the publics in these countries. But Jordanians and Pakistanis are nearly evenly split over whether America favors or opposes democracy in their nations.

In Indonesia, a solid 65% majority says that the U.S. government favors democracy there. A 54% majority in Lebanon shares this view. But Jordanians and Pakistanis are nearly evenly split, with 46% of Jordanians and 39% of Pakistanis saying the U.S. favors democracy in their country and 43% and 34%, respectively, saying it opposes democracy there (again in Pakistan, a substantial 27% offered no response to the question).

As in past surveys, the poll found most people in predominantly Muslim countries continue to believe that "Western style democracy" could work in their country. This view was most prevalent in Indonesia (77%), Lebanon (83%) and Jordan (80%). Smaller percentages but still pluralities agreed in Turkey (48%) and Pakistan (43%).

Influences on U.S. Policy

When asked to speculate as to which group has the most influence on U.S. policy toward other nations, no clear consensus emerges across countries. Among Americans, 40% say the news media most influences U.S. foreign policy, far more than the number who say business corporations (23%), or ordinary Americans (13%).

In Europe, business corporations generally top the list of influentials, with the news media also mentioned fairly often. The British are most likely to say that corporations have the greatest influence over U.S. foreign policy; roughly four-in-ten (37%) cite corporations as most influential, about twice as many who mentioned the news media (18%).

Despite widespread European perceptions that the U.S. is too religious a country, Christian conservatives are not viewed as wielding much influence over foreign policymaking except in France, where 15% of the public accord primary influence to Christian conservatives, as large a percentage as select the news media. Jews are viewed as most influential by 15% of the public in Poland, 12% in Germany and 10% in Spain.

In both Lebanon and Jordan large majorities say Jews exert the most influence on U.S. policy toward other countries (60% in each). But that view is not shared to nearly the same extent in Indonesia (18%), Turkey (17%), or Pakistan (14%).

Negative Views of War, Iraq's Future

The sharp drop in America's global popularity that occurred at the start of the military action in Iraq has not been reversed in most countries, nor have attitudes improved toward the Iraq incursion. Among America's coalition partners, people in the Netherlands stand alone in saying that their government made the right decision using military force in Iraq. A larger percentage of the Dutch public than the American public says that their country made the right decision to use force in Iraq (59% vs. 54%). The Netherlands dispatched a small contingent of troops to Iraq, which was withdrawn earlier this year.

Among other coalition partners surveyed, however, the judgment is decisively to the contrary. More than two-thirds of the publics in Spain (69%) and Poland (67%) think their countries were wrong to support military action in Iraq. The British public, by a 53% to 39% margin, also believes Prime Minister Tony Blair's government made the wrong decision to participate in the war.

By the same token, the countries that declined to participate in the Iraq war overwhelmingly reaffirm that decision, with huge majorities in Europe and the Muslim world believing their governments were wise to stay out of the war.

As to whether the removal of Saddam Hussein from power made the world a safer place, views are also lopsidedly negative. In no country surveyed, including the United States, does a majority think the Iraq leader's overthrow has increased global security.

And in Canada and most of Europe * including France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands * majorities think Hussein's removal has made the world a more dangerous place. They are joined in this view by majorities in China and all Muslim countries. India is the only country, aside from the U.S., in which a plurality believes the world is a safer place as a result of Saddam's ouster.

Nor does a majority in any country * again, including the United States * judge that the January elections in Iraq will lead to a more stable situation in that country. In the U.S., optimism about a more stable outcome in Iraq rose from just 29% in January, before the elections, to 47% in February. But those hopes have receded, and now just 35% of Americans expect a consequent gain for stability in Iraq.

In Canada, Indonesia and throughout Europe including Turkey, majorities or pluralities feel that the situation in Iraq will not change much as a result of the election. In Lebanon, a 54% majority predicts that the elections will reduce stability in Iraq. They are joined in this view by pluralities in Jordan, China, India and Pakistan.

Support for Terror War Slipping

The United States finds considerably more support for its leadership in the larger war on terrorism than for the war in Iraq. In the Netherlands, a large 71% majority joins with 76% of Americans in supporting the U.S.-led fight against terrorism. In Poland, 61% of the public also favor the U.S. efforts, joined by small majorities in most other European countries ranging from 55% in Russia, 51% in Great Britain, and France to 50% in Germany. However, in Russia and Great Britain support has declined significantly over the last year.

Canadians, once among the strongest U.S. allies in the war on terror, are now about evenly split on the issue, with 47% opposing the U.S.-led effort and 45% in favor. That represents a significant reversal from May 2003, when two-thirds of Canadians backed the war on terror (68%). Spain has experienced an even more dramatic change of opinion. In 2003, 63% of Spaniards supported the war on terrorism and only 32% opposed it, but now just 26% are in favor while the large majority, 67%, opposes the U.S.-led war against terrorism.

Indonesia is a striking exception to this pattern. The percentage of Indonesians supporting the U.S.-led war on terrorism has more than doubled since 2003 * from 23% to 50%. In most of the Muslim world, however, opposition is widespread. In Turkey, just 17% support the war on terror, down from 37% in March 2004. Similarly in Pakistan support is heavily outweighed by opposition, 22% to 52%. In Jordan opponents of U.S.-led antiterrorism efforts continue to outweigh supporters by a large margin. In Lebanon, views are strongly divided along sectarian lines: Christians support the U.S. anti-terrorism effort by a margin of 60%-33%; Muslims oppose it by an even more lopsided 88%-11%.
Holyboy and the 666s
24-06-2005, 01:02
Wow this is really interseting. I think the numbers are acurate, give the attitude i have seen in Canada vs poll results. Good job Aryavartha :D
24-06-2005, 01:46

Overwhelming support of Indians to US policies surprises me because there is a lot of resentment towards the US actions during 1971 (Nixon backing Yahya and threatening India with seventh fleet) and the continued appeasing and arming of Pakistani dictators.

But I guess, being the sentimental people we are, we empathise with the US , having suffered terrorism for so long. Also the increasing economy and prosperity of India is generating goodwill towards America, methinks.

Also, the favorable viewing of China above the US by "old European" countries surprises me.

cutting the nose to spite the face ?
Robot ninja pirates
24-06-2005, 01:49
People are so fickle.