Continues To Unite The World... Against Him
By Jim Lobe
25 January , 2007
Inter Press Service
two years of a concentrated effort by Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice and her public diplomacy major- doma Karen Hughes to boost Washington's
global image, more people around the world have an unfavourable opinion
of U.S. policies than at any time in recent memory, according to a new
BBC poll released here Monday.
The survey, which polled
more than 26,000 people in 25 countries, including the U.S., between
November and January, found that a 49 percent plurality overall believes
the U.S. is playing a "mainly negative" role in the world
today, compared to less than a third (32 percent) who said Washington's
influence was "mainly positive."
And in the 18 countries where
respondents were asked the same question in each of the past two years,
the latest poll found a substantial drop in the percentage who said
they viewed U.S. influence as positive, from 40 percent in 2005, to
36 percent last year, to 29 percent in 2007.
"According to world
public opinion, these days the U.S. government hardly seems to be able
to do anything right," said Steven Kull, director of the University
of Maryland's program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) which,
along with Canada-based Globescan, conducted the survey.
Germany and Indonesia, where
nearly three out of four respondents said they had a mainly negative
opinion of U.S. influence, were the least favourable, while 69 percent
of French and Turkish respondents agreed.
The sharpest drops in positive
ratings over the past year were found in Poland (62 percent in 2006
compared to 38 percent in 2007), Indonesia (40 percent to 21 percent),
the Philippines (85 percent to 72 percent), and India (44 percent to
Respondents in the United
States also showed greater opposition to their government's policies
than in previous years, according to the survey.
Another Washington Post-ABC
News poll, released on the eve of President George W. Bush's State of
the Union speech to Congress Tuesday, found that 65 percent of respondents
oppose the so-called "surge" of more than 21,000 additional
U.S. troops to Iraq, while 48 percent called the war the most important
The findings of the BBC poll
echo those of another major survey of 14 foreign countries released
last June by the Pew Research Centre's Global Attitudes Project. It
found that Washington's global image had slipped over the previous year,
particularly in Europe and Asia, as well as predominantly Muslim countries,
and that Washington's continuing intervention in Iraq appeared to be
the main cause.
The new BBC poll found that
the most negative views were evoked by policies pursued by the Bush
administration in connection with its "global war on terror"
and the Middle East.
Nearly three in four respondents
overall (73 percent) said they disapproved of Washington's role in the
Iraq war. Opposition was particularly intense in Egypt, France, and
Lebanon where more than three out of four respondents said they "strongly
At the same time, more than
two out of three (68 percent) overall said the U.S. military presence
in the Middle East provokes more conflict than it prevents. More than
four out of five respondents in three Latin American countries -- Argentina,
Brazil, and Mexico -- and in two mainly Muslim countries -- Egypt and
Indonesia -- took that position.
Conversely, only 17 percent
overall said they thought Washington's military presence exercised a
stabilising influence in the Middle East. The most positive views on
this question were found in Nigeria, the only country where a plurality
(49 percent) said it was stabilising, the Philippines (41 percent),
and Kenya (40 percent).
Perhaps not coincidentally,
the same three countries were the only ones, aside from the U.S. itself,
where majorities of respondents said Washington's influence in the world
was "mainly positive."
On related issues, 67 percent
of all respondents said they disapproved of Washington's handling of
detainees at Guantanamo, while only 16 percent, concentrated in Kenya,
Nigeria, India, the Philippines and the U.S., said they approved.
Nearly two-thirds (65 percent)
of respondents overall also said they disapproved of U.S. policy during
last summer's war between Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah, compared to
21 percent -- again concentrated in the same five countries -- who said
Opposition to the U.S. role
in the conflict, during which Washington strongly backed Israel and
repeatedly defended it in U.N. Security Council deliberations, was particularly
intense in Argentina (79 percent "strongly disapproved of the U.S.
role), Egypt (78 percent), Lebanon itself (76 percent), the United Arab
Emirates (UAE) (71 percent), France and Brazil (63 percent).
Sixty percent of respondents
overall said they disapproved of Washington's handling of Iran's nuclear
program, while 28 percent, including majorities in Kenya, Nigeria the
Philippines and a plurality in India, said they approved. Disapproval
was most intense in Argentina and three predominantly Sunni countries
-- Egypt, UAE, and Turkey -- while opinion was most polarised in Lebanon
where 26 percent "strongly approved" of U.S. policies and
54 percent "strongly disapproved."
While disapproval among all
respondents of U.S. policies on Middle East issues ranged from 60 percent
(Iran's nuclear program) to 73 percent (the Iraq war), somewhat smaller
overall majorities said they disapproved of Washington's handling of
North Korea's nuclear program (54 percent) and global warming (56 percent)
while compared to 30 percent and 27 percent, respectively, who said
On North Korea, U.S. policies
enjoyed the support of majorities in the two African countries, and
the Philippines, and pluralities in India and Poland. A plurality in
Australia disapproved, as did a small majority in South Korea. Significantly,
in China, 56 percent of respondents said they disapproved, while 27
percent voiced approval.
On global warming, opposition
to the Bush administration's policies was highest among European nations,
particularly France and Germany (86 percent), Britain and Portugal (79
percent), and Italy (74 percent), all of which have ratified the Kyoto
Protocol. In Australia which, like the U.S., has not ratified the treaty,
68 percent of respondents said they opposed Washington's policies, while
in Russia, which has ratified Kyoto, a plurality of 46 percent agreed.
Majorities of Filipino, Kenyan,
and Nigerian respondents and pluralities of Chinese, Indian and South
Korean respondents said they approved of U.S. policies on global warming,
while, within the developing world, disapproval was most widespread
in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Lebanon, Turkey, and the UAE.
A 54 percent majority of
U.S. respondents said they also disapproved of U.S. policies on global
Overall, 57 percent of U.S.
respondents said the country's overall influence on the rest of the
world was "mainly positive," compared to 28 percent who disagreed.
On specific policies, 57
percent said they disapproved of their government's handling of the
Iraq war and of the Israeli-Hezbollah war; 60 percent said they disapproved
of its handling of Guantanamo detainees; and 53 percent said they believed
the U.S. military presence provokes more conflict than it prevents.
A plurality of 50 percent
of U.S. respondents said they disapproved of the government's handling
of Iran's nuclear program, while the same plurality said they approved
of its handling of North Korea's.
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