Even Among Allies, Image of U.S. Drops

By Tiffany Harness
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, June 28, 2007

The image of the United States has "plummeted" in many parts of the world, with mounting distrust of President Bush and U.S. foreign policy expressed not only in Muslim countries but also among traditional allies, according to a survey of global attitudes released yesterday.

Still, majorities in 25 of the 46 countries surveyed said they had positive views of the United States, with particularly positive sentiments coming from Africa, suggesting that anti-Americanism has grown "deeper, but not wider."

Those surveyed expressed little confidence in other world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And China's increasing economic and military might is "triggering considerable anxiety," the survey found, though President Hu Jintao "remains largely unknown in many parts of the world."

"The image of China has slipped significantly among the publics of other major nations," the study concluded. "Opinion about Russia is mixed, but . . . the Russian leader's negatives have soared to the point that they mirror the nearly worldwide lack of confidence in George W. Bush."

The research was conducted this spring by the nonpartisan, nonprofit Pew Research Center and covered 46 countries and the Palestinian territories. The study assesses global attitudes concerning policy, leadership and world threats. The organization conducted its first major global survey in 2002.

A majority of respondents in 30 of the 46 countries criticized the United States for what they saw as acting without taking the views of other countries into consideration. Support was strong for a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, and there was "considerable" opposition among those surveyed to U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan.

Among Americans, 56 percent said they favored pulling troops out of Iraq, and 42 percent said the same for Afghanistan.

A consistently negative view of the United States persisted in Middle Eastern and Asian countries with Muslim majorities. Favorable views of the United States among Pakistanis dropped to just 15 percent, and among Turks to 9 percent.

Lebanon stood out as a notable exception in the region. Forty-seven percent of Lebanese said they had a favorable view of the United States; the number was 27 percent in 2003. But Lebanese opinions of the United States varied according to religion. Eighty-two percent of Christians surveyed expressed positive views of the United States, compared with 52 percent of Sunni Muslims and only 7 percent of Shiite Muslims.

In Africa, more than "three-quarters of participants in Ivory Coast, Kenya, Ghana, Mali, and Ethiopia say they have a very or somewhat favorable impression" of the United States, the report said.

But in several African countries, a religious divide was also evident. In Ethiopia, for example, 77 percent expressed a positive view of the United States. Among Ethiopian Christians the number rose to 93 percent, while Muslims were nearly evenly divided. In Nigeria, 70 percent of those surveyed held positive views of the United States. But when religion was taken into account, 94 percent of Nigerian Christians expressed a positive opinion while Nigerian Muslims were also nearly evenly divided in their views.

Respondents in a "diverse group of countries" listed environmental degradation as a serious global threat. "In North America and Latin America, majorities in every country -- except the U.S. -- say global warming is a very serious problem," the study found.

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