Poll shows modest changes in levels of anti-U.S. mood
The anti-Americanism that surged through much of the world over the war in Iraq shows modest signs of abating, although distinctly negative views persist in the Muslim world, an international opinion poll released Thursday indicates.
Favorability ratings of the United States – while well below levels of 2002, before a trans-Atlantic rift opened over Iraq – improved slightly even in France and Germany, as both sides have sought to mend the earlier wounds.
Still, among America’s traditional allies, only Britain and Canada remained positive in their overall views of the United States. In many countries the unpopularity of President Bush remained a salient factor.
“Anti-Americanism in most parts of the world we surveyed seems pretty entrenched,” said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Center, which conducted the poll. “But there are some very positive signs of progress in India and Russia and Indonesia.”
For example, 79 percent of Indonesians said they had a more favorable view of the United States as a result of the aid Americans provided after the Dec. 26 tsunami. Indians appeared pleased with closer economic ties to the United States, and Russians with cooperation on trade and terrorism.
In Britain, Canada and France, about three-quarters of respondents said Mr. Bush’s re-election had made them feel less favorable toward the United States.
The poll, a Pew Global Attitudes Survey, was conducted from April 20 to May 31, surveying nearly 17,000 people in the United States and 15 other countries: Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, Poland, Russia, Spain and Turkey.
The margin of sampling error ranged from plus or minus two to plus or minus four percentage points. In most of the countries the poll was conducted face to face, but in some was done by telephone. It was conducted nationwide except in India, Pakistan and China, where it mostly covered urban areas.
Around the world, a sense that the United States pays little attention to other countries’ interests remained widespread, although India was an exception.
Asked what could be done to improve America’s image, former Senator John C. Danforth, a co-sponsor of the Pew survey, referred to the war in Iraq and said, “It could be that the price of being forceful in dealing with perceived problems is you’re unpopular.”
Mr. Danforth, who resigned as the American ambassador to the United Nations in January, added, “The United States has been assertive, and our view is that with the threat of terrorism we cannot be passive.”
Americans appeared quite aware of their image problem. Only one in four thought the country was well-liked abroad.
Strong majorities in several countries said they would like to see another military power emerge to balance the United States, but most, especially in the West, did not want it to be China.
Seven in 10 of those surveyed in Britain, France and Russia opposed a rising Chinese superpower, as did about 8 in 10 Germans and Americans. But the idea was much more popular in developing countries: majorities in Indonesia, Jordan, Pakistan and Turkey favored it.
Most West Europeans said they would prefer greater independence from the United States in security and diplomatic affairs. An overwhelming 85 percent of the French said it would be good if the European Union emerged as a military rival to the United States.
Immigration remains a vexing issue. More than half of the Germans polled called immigration from the Middle East and North Africa a bad thing; only one-third saw it as good. They were even less favorable to immigration from Eastern Europe.
The most welcoming country in Europe was Spain, where two-thirds of those polled called immigration from North Africa and the Middle East a good thing, followed by Britain, with 61 percent in favor. Although the United States is traditionally viewed as a land of opportunity, people in most countries, when asked where they would advise a young person to move to be able to lead a good life, chose other destinations. Australia, Britain, Canada and Germany were cited more often than the United States.
Over all, the most negative views of the United States were found in Muslim countries. Two countries caught up in the American effort to combat terrorism, Turkey and Pakistan, were the most negative: only about one in five people in each country said they viewed the United States favorably.
In the Muslim world and in Europe, the war in Iraq remained as unpopular as it was in 2003 and 2004. Views in Pakistan turned sharply more negative after allegations that American guards at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, had abused the Koran. Autor: Brian Knowlton