The other day, as I was bemoaning the tanking of the dollar versus the Euro (yes, my European friends are not crying in their beer over it; I’m glad for them. Now they can visit), I mentioned that it wasn’t just the dollar that had taken a bath since GWB but also the US reputation as a force for Good in the world. Now the BBC World Service has put some numbers on this in a survey of 26,000 people from 25 different countries:
As the United States government prepares to send a further 21,500 troops to Iraq, the survey reveals that three in four (73%) disapprove of how the US government has dealt with Iraq.
The poll shows that in the 18 countries that were previously polled, the average percentage saying that the United States is having a mainly positive influence in the world has dropped seven points from a year ago — from 36 percent to 29 percent — after having already dropped four points the year before. Across all 25 countries polled, one citizen in two (49%) now says the US is playing a mainly negative role in the world.
Over two-thirds (68%) believe the US military presence in the Middle East provokes more conflict than it prevents and only 17 percent believes US troops there are a stabilizing force.
The poll shows that world citizens disapprove of the way the US government has handled all six of the foreign policy areas explored. After the Iraq war (73% disapproval), majorities across the 25 countries also disapprove of US handling of Guantanamo detainees (67%), the Israeli-Hezbollah war (65%), Iran?s nuclear program (60%), global warming (56%), and North Korea?s nuclear program (54%). (WorldPublicOpinion.org)
Do I have to draw you a picture? How about three pictures:
These are the averages across all countries and some countries have a more negative view than others. But in 18 of the 25 the majority of people thought the US was having a negative effect on world affairs and in two it was evenly divided. Only in 5 countries was the US thought to have a net positive effect. The negative end of the spectrum was held down by Germany (74% negative) and Indonesia (71% negative) while the nations most favorable to the US were Nigeria (77% positive) the the Philippines (71% positive). But the strongest trends were in countries that had formerly been much more positive: Poland dropped 24% over the last year (62% to 38%), the Philippines from 85% to 72%, India 44% to 30% and Indonesia from 40% to 29%.
There are specific reasons for the loss of favor, most having to do with Bush’s disastrous handling of virtually everything in the Middle East: Iraq, Israel-Lebanon, Guantanamo, Iran. In 20 of the 25 countries there was disapproval by more than 20 of the 25 countries surveyed. Almost as high a disapproval was registered about the Bush administration handling of the North Korea situation and global warming (19 countries showed disapproval by the majority of respondents). Almost every other country (23 of 25) thought the US role in Iraq just provoked more conflict. Interestingly, US polls also show majority disapproval of virtually all the same issues except for the North Korean situation. Unlike the rest of the world, however, a moderate majority (57%) of Americans cherish the thought that their country is a positive influence in the world. That’s stunningly bad.
But this administration doesn’t really care. Or, to put it in Vice President Cheney’s more succinct response, “So?”
Countries surveyed in BBC World Service poll: In total 26,381 citizens in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Korea, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and the United States were interviewed between 3 November 2006 and 9 January 2007.