16. What the World Thinks in 2002. How Global Publics View: Their Lives, Their Countries, The World, and America

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The main conclusion of the report is that anti-Americanism is growing in the world, especially in Egypt and Pakistan. The core of dissatisfaction is US foreign policy, primarily in Muslim countries but also among traditional allies of the US.

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Editor: The Pew research is a huge statistical survey, conducted under the chairmanship of the former American Minister of Foreign Affairs Madeline Albright with 38,000 respondents in 44 nations to assess how the publics of the world view their lives, their nation, the world and the United States. The excerpts, made by Rick Anderson, are focused on the findings related to Egypt and the Arab world and are based on the introduction and summary of the Pew report. The main conclusion of the report is that anti-Americanism is growing in the world, especially in Egypt and Pakistan. The core of dissatisfaction is American foreign policy, primarily in Muslim countries but also among traditional allies of the US.

Albright said the report should not be seen as an effort to criticize the policy of US President George W. Bush. Bush spoke about foreign "propaganda machines" that make an effort to discredit the US in different countries. He repeated that the US fights terrorism and not as some say- Islam. Muslim countries will ultimately realize this, he said [Telegraaf, December 5, 2002].

For the full text of the report go to:

Global Gloom and Growing Anti-Americanism

Despite an initial outpouring of public sympathy for America following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, discontent with the United States has grown around the world over the past two years. Images of the US have been tarnished in all types of nations: among longtime NATO allies, in developing countries, in Eastern Europe and, most dramatically, in Muslim societies.

Since 2000, favorable ratings for the US have fallen in 19 of the 27 countries where trend benchmarks are available. While criticism of America is on the rise, however, a reserve of goodwill toward the US still remains. The Pew Global Attitudes survey finds that the US and its citizens continue to be rated positively by majorities in 35 of the 42 countries in which the question was asked. True dislike, if not hatred, of America is concentrated in the Muslim nations of the Middle East and in Central Asia, today’s areas of greatest conflict.

Opinions about the US, however, are complicated and contradictory. People around the world embrace things American and, at the same time, decry US influence on their societies. Similarly, pluralities in most of the nations surveyed complain about American unilateralism. But the war on terrorism, the centerpiece of current US foreign policy, continues to enjoy global support outside the Muslim world. […]

A follow-up six-nation survey finds a wide gap in opinion about a potential war with Iraq. This threatens to further fuel anti-American sentiment and divide the US from the publics of its traditional allies and new strategic friends. But even on this highly charged issue, opinions are nuanced. Iraq is seen as a threat to regional stability and world peace by overwhelming numbers of people in allied nations, yet American motives for using force against Iraq are still suspect. […]

At a time when trade and technology have linked the world more closely together than ever before, almost all national publics view the fortunes of the world as drifting downward. A smaller world, our surveys indicate, is not a happier one. […]

Dissatisfaction with the state of one’s country is another common global point of view. In all but a handful of societies, the public is unhappy with national conditions. The economy is the number one national concern volunteered by the more than 38,000 respondents interviewed. Crime and political corruption also emerge as top problems in most of the nations surveyed. Both issues even rival the importance of the spread of disease to the publics of AIDS-ravaged African countries. […]

Suspicions about US motives in Iraq are consistent with criticisms of America apparent throughout the Global Attitudes survey. The most serious problem facing the US abroad is its very poor public image in the Muslim world, especially in the Middle East/Conflict Area. Favorable ratings are down sharply in two of America’s most important allies in this region, Turkey and Pakistan. The number of people giving the United States a positive rating has dropped by 22 points in Turkey and 13 points in Pakistan in the last three years. And in Egypt, a country for which no comparative data is available, just 6% of the public holds a favorable view of the US.

The war on terrorism is opposed by majorities in nearly every predominantly Muslim country surveyed. This includes countries outside the Middle East/Conflict Area, such as Indonesia and Senegal. The principal exception is the overwhelming support for America’s anti-terrorist campaign found in Uzbekistan, where the United States currently has 1,500 troops stationed.

Sizable percentages of Muslims in many countries with significant Muslim populations also believe that suicide bombings can be justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies. While majorities see suicide bombing as justified in only two nations polled, more than a quarter of Muslims in another nine nations subscribe to this view.

US image problems are not confined to Muslim countries. The worldwide polling conducted throughout the summer and fall finds few people, even in friendly nations, expressing a very favorable opinion of America, and sizable minorities in Western Europe and Canada having an unfavorable view. Many people around the world, especially in Europe and the Middle East/Conflict Area, believe the US does not take into account the interests of their country when making international policies. Majorities in most countries also see US policies as contributing to the growing gap between rich and poor nations and believe the United States does not do the right amount to solve global problems. […]

Similarly, despite widespread resentment toward US international policies, majorities in nearly every country believe that the emergence of another superpower would make the world a more dangerous place. This view is shared even in Egypt and Pakistan, where no more than one-in-ten have a favorable view of the US and in Russia, a 53% majority believes the world is a safer place with a single superpower. […]

In contrast to people in most other countries, a solid majority of Americans surveyed think the US takes into account the interests of other countries when making international policy. […]

By nearly all measures, the Turks are among the unhappiest people surveyed. More generally, the publics of the six countries in the Middle East/Conflict Area are dissatisfied with the state of their lives, and a relatively high proportion of respondents in this region also report they have been unable to afford basic necessities in the past year.

But not having enough money for essentials is a common experience for many people outside of the advanced economies. Overwhelming majorities of African respondents say there have been times in the past year when they did not have enough money for food, clothing or health care. In much of Latin America, as well as Russia and Ukraine, majorities say there have been times in the past year when they had too little money to afford food. Only in the industrialized nations are reports of doing without the basics of life limited to a distinct minority of the population. […]

Perhaps reflecting international worries, the military emerges as a highly rated institution in most countries of the world. The notable exceptions are Latin American countries, notably Guatemala, Argentina and Peru. The military not only gets a better rating than the national governments in most countries, it also is more highly regarded than religious leaders in most of Europe, Asia and many countries in the Middle East/Conflict Area. This is not the case, however, in most African and Latin American nations. […]

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