The Pew Global Attitudes Project is an ongoing series of worldwide public opinion surveys designed to help Americans understand what the rest of the world is thinking about important issues. The project is funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, founded in 1948 either by Pepé Le Pew or the family of the late Sunoco oil baron Joseph N. Pew. I forget which.
Last month, Pew released the results of its most widely discussed survey. The survey asked 16,000 people in 15 countries what they think about several important political issues. Most important to us, the poll asked what people think about us.
So, on the occasion of America's 230th birthday (I don't think we look a day over 220!), sit back and enjoy the bad news: The world doesn't like us.
In the 14 foreign countries surveyed this year (plus the US), only four had majorities who say they have a favorable opinion of the United States.
The United States' worst favorability ratings come from the Muslim countries in the survey. Only 30 percent of Indonesians and Egyptians view the US favorably. In Pakistan, it's 27 percent; in Jordan, 15 percent; and in Turkey, only 12 percent of the people polled said they have a favorable opinion of the United States. Those numbers are especially disturbing when you consider that those countries are all considered friends of the US. And Turkey is not only a democracy, it's a member of NATO. If that's what our Muslim friends think of us, imagine what our Muslim enemies must think.
The only country with a large Muslim population whose citizens view the US favorably is Nigeria. Don't cheer just yet, though. When Pew divided the Nigerian respondents into Muslims and Christians, they found that just 32 percent of Nigerian Muslims like us. Nigeria's overall pro-America numbers were so high, it turns out, because an astonishing 89 percent of Nigerian Christians like us. According to Pew, more Nigerian Christians view the US favorably than the Americans do.
The other stunner from the "How they like us now" survey is the sharp decline of the United States' favorability rating in Spain. Only 23 percent of Spaniards view the US favorably this year, down from 41 percent last year. Remember, they're not only an ally, but they actually sent troops to Iraq when we asked.
Why is the US so unpopular? Two words: Bush and Iraq. I know that's actually three words, but you're not supposed to count the "and."
Of the 14 countries surveyed, only two of the countries have majorities who say that they have some or a lot of confidence in Bush's international leadership. Those two countries: Nigeria and India.
In Great Britain, our greatest ally that isn't actually touching us, 30 percent of those surveyed say that they at least have some confidence in Bush's international leadership. In France, that number dips to 15 percent; in Spain, 7 percent; and in Turkey, just 3 percent of those surveyed said they have at least some confidence in Bush's international leadership. Three percent! That's one out of every 33 people. It makes me wonder if the people who said they have confidence in Bush even heard the question correctly.
Incidentally, the country whose population registered the steepest decline in confidence in President Bush's leadership since the last poll -- that'd be the USA.
Support for the US-led War On Terror(TM) continues to slip, not just among Muslim countries, but also our European allies. Majorities in Britain, France, Germany and Spain do not support the War On Terror(TM). Majorities in 10 of the 15 countries surveyed believe that the war in Iraq has made the world a more dangerous place.
The war in Iraq is actually cited more often as a danger to world peace than the prospect of Iran getting nuclear weapons. That's not to say the world wants Iran to get nukes. On the contrary, the vast majority of those polled are against it. They just think we're scarier.
Amusingly, the only country polled with a majority in favor of Iran acquiring nukes is Pakistan. Perhaps not coincidentally, Pakistan is the country that sold Iran many of the key components of its nuclear program.
To contact Andisheh, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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