World View of US Role Goes From Bad to Worse


Backgrounder

Europe

Great Britain: A majority (57%) continues to see US influence in the world as mainly negative, while just 33 percent sees US influence as mainly positive—down slightly from 36 percent in 2006. Britons have significantly negative views of US handling of foreign policy issues, with an overwhelming majority disapproving of US actions on the war on Iraq (81%), the US approach to global warming (79%), its treatment of detainees at Guantanamo and other prisons (76%), as well as the handling of the Israel-Hezbollah war in Lebanon (70%). Issues receiving lower levels of disapproval are the handling of Iran's nuclear program (64%) and the handling of North Korea's nuclear weapons program (55%). More than 7 in 10 Britons (72%) sees the US military presence in the Middle East as "provoking more conflict than it prevents;" just 14 percent believe that the US is a "stabilizing force" in the region.

Germany: German views of US influence have worsened significantly over the last year, with negative attitudes increasing from 65 to 74 percent. Only 16 percent of respondents say they have a mostly positive view of US influence in the world, down from 21 percent. Negative attitudes about the US are also reflected in German views of US handling the war in Iraq, with an overwhelming 88 percent disapproving of the US approach to this issue. Germans also judge the United States harshly on its handling of the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo (89% disapprove), global warming (84% disapprove) and the Israel-Hezbollah war (74% disapprove). Significant majorities disapprove of the approach to Iran's nuclear program (64%), as well as to North Korea's nuclear situation (56%). Nearly three in four Germans (73%) believes the US is a destabilizing force in the Middle East, with just 17 percent saying the US military presence is a stabilizing element.

France: French views of the United States remain quite negative, showing little change over the previous year after sharply worsening from 2005 to 2006. Seven in ten (69%) say the US is having a mainly negative influence in the world, only slightly greater than the 65 percent who held this view in 2006. Only one in four (24%) has a mainly positive view of the US. The French view US actions in foreign policy even more negatively: 92 percent disapprove of US handling of the war in Iraq, 86 percent disapprove on global warming, 82 percent criticize the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo, and 81 percent disapprove of US actions in the Israel-Hezbollah war. Attitudes about the US approach to the two nuclear situations are slightly less negative, but large majorities still disapprove of US handling of Iran's nuclear program (77%) and North Korea's nuclear weapons (67%). Eighty percent of respondents in France see the US military presence as provoking more conflict than it prevents in the Middle East; fewer than one in ten (9%) see it as a "stabilizing force."

Russia: Russians have become somewhat more negative about US influence in the world over the past year, increasing from 52 to 59 the percent that believe the US has a mostly negative influence in the world. Attitudes about US foreign policy are not quite as negative in Russia as many other countries, with the exception of a large majority disapproving of the US handling of the war in Iraq (82%). Significant majorities still disapprove of US actions in the Israel-Hezbollah war (64%), Iran's nuclear program (64%), and US treatment of detainees at Guantanamo (57%). Only a plurality (36%) disapproves of the US approach to global warming, and about one quarter (26%) of Russians approve of the US on this issue. Russians clearly view the US military presence in the Middle East as a disruptive force; nearly three in four (72%) say that it provokes more conflict than it prevents, and just 7 percent say it is a stabilizing force.

Italy: Italian views of the United States influence on the world are relatively moderate with a plurality (47%) holding a negative view and just one in three (35%) having a positive view of US influence in the world essentially unchanged from a year ago. However Italians are quite critical of the US handling of the war in Iraq (81%), the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo and other prisons (82%), and the US approach to global warming (74%). Italians express disapproval of US actions in the Israel-Hezbollah war (70%), and US handling of the nuclear situations with Iran (60%) and North Korea (58%). A large majority of Italians (69%) says the US military presence in the Middle East is provoking more conflict than it prevents, and less than one in five (17%) agrees that it is a stabilizing force.

Portugal: A majority of Portuguese (55%) sees the US influence in the world as mainly negative, while just 29 percent believes it is mainly positive. Disapproval of US foreign policy is widespread in Portugal, with very large majorities disapproving of US treatment of detainees at Guantanamo (84%), the handling of the Iraq war (83%), global warming (79%), and the Israel-Hezbollah conflict (72%). The Portuguese also tend to view US handling of rising nuclear tensions negatively, with 57 percent disapproving of the situation with Iran and 51 percent disapproving of the situation with North Korea. More than three in four (77%) in Portugal see the US military presence in the Middle East as instigating more conflict than it prevents, and just 15 percent see the US as a stabilizing force in the region.

Poland: The Polish, long the European public to express the most positive feelings toward the United States, have turned sharply cooler though a plurality is still positive. The number holding a positive view of the US has dropped from 62 to 38 percent and negative views from Poland also increased significantly, up from 15 to 24 percent. Attitudes about US foreign policy are less negative in Poland than in Western European nations, though majorities still disapprove of US treatment of detainees at Guantanamo (61%) and the handling of the Iraq war (52%). More Poles than not also express disapproval about the US approach to the Israel-Hezbollah war (40% disapprove) and the issue of global warming (31% disapprove). However, attitudes about the US handling of North Korea's nuclear program are more positive, with 39 percent approving of the US on this issue. On the issue of US military presence in the Middle East, a majority of Poles (56%) believes it provokes more conflict than it prevents, with just 16 percent seeing it as a stabilizing force.

Hungary: Hungarians are divided on the effect of the United States in the world, with 29 percent seeing US influence as positive and 31 mainly negative, while the largest percentage (40%) declined to offer a concrete view. However, attitudes about specific US foreign policies are predominantly negative, as large majorities disapprove of the US handling of the war in Iraq (70%) and the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo (69%). Hungarians also are critical of the US approach to the Israel-Hezbollah conflict (57% disapprove), Iran's nuclear program (55%), global warming (53%), and the North Korean nuclear situation (50%). Like other European publics, Hungarians clearly see the US military presence in the Middle East as a disruptive force, with 58 percent saying it provokes more conflict than it prevents and just 13 percent seeing it as a stabilizing force.

Asia

Indonesia: Indonesian views of the United States have declined sharply over the past year. A large majority (71%) now sees the US influence as mainly negative (up from 47% in 2006), while positive views of the US dropped from 40 to 21 percent. These dramatically negative views of the US also correspond to the broad Indonesian criticism of US foreign policy. Overwhelming majorities disapprove of the US handling of the war Iraq (85%), the Israel-Hezbollah war in Lebanon (81%), Iran's nuclear program (77%), North Korea's nuclear weapons program (73%), and the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo and other prisons (72%). A smaller majority of Indonesians (52%) also disapproves of the US handling of global warming. Not surprisingly, more than four in five (83%) in Indonesia sees the US military presence as a destabilizing force in the Middle East.

China: Views of the US in China have improved slightly over the past year, though remain negative. Positive views of US influence in the world have increased from 22 to 28 percent, while the majority having a negative view of US influence has fallen from 62 to 52 percent. However, Chinese attitudes about US foreign policy are largely negative in most areas: an overwhelming 83 percent disapproves of US handling of the war in Iraq, while a two-thirds (66%) disapproves of US actions in the Israel-Hezbollah conflict. The Chinese also have 60 percent disapproving of the US on Iran's nuclear program and 56 percent on North Korea's nuclear situation. Fifty-nine percent of respondents in China also disapprove of US treatment of detainees at Guantanamo and other prisons. Interestingly, a slight plurality (39%) of Chinese respondents approves of US handling of the issue of global warming. Most Chinese see the US military presence in the Middle East as provoking more conflict than it prevents, with 72 percent holding this view.

India: While Indians have tended to lean fairly positive toward the US in recent years, they are now largely divided, with many expressing no position. Positive views of US influence in the world have dropped sharply to 30 percent (from 54 percent in 2005 and 44 percent in 2006), while negative views are also on the rise, jumping to 28 percent (up from 17 percent in 2006). Indians are also divided on the US handling of the war in Iraq (44% approve, 41% disapprove) and the Israel-Hezbollah war (37% approve, 38% disapprove). A plurality (39%) of Indians disapproves of the US treatment of detainees at Guantanamo and other prisons. However, Indians lean toward approving the US approach to global warming (47%) and of the handling of the two nuclear situations in the region, with pluralities approving of the US on Iran (46%) and North Korea (41%). More Indians than not see the US military presence in the Middle East as a disruptive force, with 38 percent holding this view and just 20 percent believing that the US is aiding stability in the region.

Australia: Australian attitudes about the US have remained quite negative with 60 percent having a mainly negative view of US influence in the world, while just 29 percent views it as mainly positive. Views of the US on foreign policy issues tend to be even more negative; large majorities disapprove of US handling of the war in Iraq (78%), the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo (77%), global warming (68%), the Israel-Hezbollah war (66%), and the nuclear situation with Iran (63%). However, views of the US actions in the North Korean nuclear issues are more mixed, with 48 percent disapproving and 43 percent approving of US actions in this case. More than seven in ten (72%) in Australia believes the US military presence in the Middle East is provoking more conflict than it prevents.

South Korea: A majority (54%) sees the US influence in the world as mainly negative, with positive views of US influence dropping from the previous year, from 44 to 35 percent. Large majorities disapprove of US handling of the war in Iraq (78%), the Israel-Hezbollah war (70%) and detainees at Guantanamo (60%). Interestingly, South Koreans equally disapprove of the US on its approach to the Iranian nuclear program (55%) as on the North Korean nuclear program (55%). US actions on the issue of global warming are viewed somewhat positively in South Korea, as 50 percent give approval to the US on this issue, although 45 percent say they disapprove. Fully three-quarters (75%) of Koreans say that the US military presence in the Middle East provokes more conflict than it prevents.

Philippines: As has been typical of Filipinos a large majority (72%) views the US as a mainly positive influence, though that number has fallen from the very high 85 percent who held this view in 2006. Attitudes about US foreign policy appear to be largely favourable as well. Majorities approve of US handling of almost all areas, including global warming (59%), the war in Iraq (55%), the Israel-Hezbollah conflict (54%), the North Korean nuclear weapon's program (53%), and the Iranian nuclear situation (52%). Yet, Filipinos express some hesitation about the US treatment of detainees at Guantanamo and other prisons: while 36 percent approve of the US on the issue, 32 percent disapprove. Views of the effect of US military presence in the Middle East are largely divided as well, with nearly the same numbers believing that the US is provoking conflict (41%) as those who see it as a stabilizing force (39%).

Middle East

Egypt: Egyptian attitudes about the US have remained quite negative and seem to have grown worse over the past year. A significant majority (59%) views the US influence as mainly negative (up from 54% in 2006), while positive views have declined from 21 to 11 percent from 2006. Views of US foreign policy are uniformly negative, with overwhelming majorities disapproving of the US handling of the Israel-Hezbollah conflict (92%), Iran's nuclear program (91%), the war in Iraq (90%), and the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo (87%). Smaller, but still significant majorities also disapprove of the US approach to the North Korean nuclear weapon's program (66%) and the issue of global warming (59%). Not surprisingly, a very large majority of Egyptians (85%) sees the US military presence in the Middle East as provoking more conflict than it prevents.

Turkey: A large majority (69%) says they have a negative view of US influence in the world, a jump of 20 points from the previous year when only 49 percent held this position. Unfavourable views of US foreign policy are widespread across all areas, with nine in ten disapproving of US handling of the war in Iraq (90%) and the Israel-Hezbollah conflict (89%), and nearly as many criticizing US treatment of detainees at Guantanamo (85%) and its approach to Iran's nuclear program (81%). Turkish disapproval of the US on other issues is less fervent, yet significant majorities disapprove of the US on its handling of North Korea's nuclear situation (71%) and global warming (65%). More than three-quarters in Turkey (76%) agree that the US military presence in the Middle East is a disruptive force.

United Arab Emirates: Views of the US in the UAE are quite unfavourable, with a solid majority (57%) saying they have a mostly negative view of US influence in the world, and just one in four (25%) says they have a mainly positive view. Emirates have largely negative views of the US on its foreign policy issues, though they are somewhat less negative than other publics in the region. Four in five disapprove of US handling of the Israel-Hezbollah conflict (81%), the war in Iraq (80%), Iran's nuclear program (78%), and the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo and other prisons (77%). Two-thirds in the UAE (66%) are critical of the US on its approach to the North Korean nuclear situation and a majority (54%) also disapproves of the US on global warming. Emirates clearly see the US military presence as a destabilizing factor in the Middle East: 66 percent says the US is provoking more conflict than it prevents, and only 17 percent says it is a stabilizing force.

Lebanon: Lebanese views of the US remain largely negative. A majority (58%) sees the US influence in the world as mainly negative, while about one-third (34%) sees it as mainly positive. Attitudes about US foreign policy are unfavourable across most areas and mirror those of neighbouring Arab republics. Overwhelming majorities disapprove of the US handling of the war in Iraq (90%), the Israel-Hezbollah war (82%), and the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo (80%). Large majorities disapprove of the US approach to the North Korean nuclear issues (68%) and the Iranian nuclear situation (64%). A large majority (68%) also has an unfavourable view of the US actions on the issue of global warming. Respondents in Lebanon decidedly see the US military presence in the Middle East as provoking more conflict than it prevents, with more than three-quarters (77%) holding this view.

Latin America

Argentina: Views of the US in Argentina have continued to be very negative over the past several years, and positive views have slightly declined. A significant majority (64%) of Argentineans sees US influence in the world as mainly negative, while just 13 percent see it is as mainly positive (down from 19% in 2006). Overwhelming majorities disapprove of the US handling of the war in Iraq (92%), the Israel-Hezbollah conflict (85%), and Iran's nuclear program (85%). Argentineans also strongly criticize the US on global warming (78%), US treatment of detainees at Guantanamo (78% disapprove), and the North Korean nuclear situation (78%). A very large majority views the US military presence in the Middle East unfavourably, with 86 percent saying it provokes more conflict than it prevents.

Brazil: Brazilian attitudes about the US remain quite negative, with little change over the last year. Fifty-seven percent say the US has mainly negative influence in the world, while just three in ten (29%) say that the US has a mainly positive influence. Views of US foreign policy are uniformly unfavourable, with more than four in five disapproving of the US on the war on in Iraq (85%), the Israel-Hezbollah conflict (82%), and the Iranian nuclear situation (80%). Nearly three-quarters also criticize the US on the treatment of detainees (76% disapprove), the North Korean nuclear weapons program (75%), and global warming (73%). Eighty-three percent of Brazilians say that the US military presence in the Middle East invited conflict rather than prevented it.

Chile: While Chileans have tended to hold milder feelings toward the US than other Latin Americans 51 percent now say they have a mostly negative view of US influence in the world (up from 46% in 2006), while just one in three (32%) says they have a positive view (down from 38% the previous year). Majorities disapprove of the US on the Israel-Hezbollah conflict (66%), the war in Iraq (65%), global warming (63%), treatment of detainees at Guantanamo (63%), Iran's nuclear program (62%), and North Korea's nuclear weapons program (59%). More than two-thirds (68%) of respondents in Chile see the US military presence in the Middle East as provoking more conflict than it prevents, while 14 percent say it is a stabilizing force.

Mexico: Mexican views of the US have remained consistently negative in recent years, with a slight majority (53%) seeing the US as a mostly negative influence in the world. Only 12 percent believe that the US is having a mainly positive influence. The issue of US handling of the Iraq war earns the highest level of disapproval (80%), followed by a large majority (70%) that disapproves of the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo and other prisons. Two-thirds (67%) disapprove of the US on the issue of global warming, while 58 percent criticizes the US on its actions during the Israel-Hezbollah war in Lebanon. Mexicans also express slight disapproval of the US handling of the nuclear tensions in Asia: 51 percent disapprove of its approach to the Iranian nuclear program, and a plurality (46%) disapproves of its actions on North Korea's nuclear situation. Four in five (80%) in Mexico view the US military presence in the Middle East as a destabilizing force.

Africa

Kenya: Views of the US in Kenya remain very favourable, though negative views have somewhat increased in the past year. A large majority (70%) has a mainly positive view of the US influence in the world, and while just 20 percent has a mainly negative view, this number is up from 12 percent in 2006. Kenyans tend to view US foreign policy actions favourably, including the US approach to Iran's nuclear program (62% approve), the handling of the war in Iraq (59%), global warming (56%), and North Korea's nuclear situation (54%). A slight plurality (46%) also approves of US actions in the Israel-Hezbollah war. Kenyans express some reservations about the US treatment of detainees at Guantanamo, as 38 percent say they disapprove and just 34 percent say they approve. Kenyans have somewhat mixed feelings about the effect of US military presence in the Middle East; while a plurality (46%) does say that it provokes more conflict than it prevents, 40 percent say it is a stabilizing force.

Nigeria: Nigerians continue to demonstrate quite positive views of the United States. More than seven in ten (72%) say that the US is having a mainly positive influence in the world, while just 20 percent say that the US influence is mainly negative. Nigerians show mostly favourable attitudes about US foreign policy, particularly in their approval of the US approach to global warming (67% approve). Modest majorities also approve of the US handling of the Iraq war (57%), the North Korean nuclear situation (55%), Iran's nuclear program (53%), and the Israel-Hezbollah conflict in Lebanon (52%). A plurality (45%) also approves of the US actions on the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo and other prisons. Nigerians are unique in that they view the US military presence in the Middle East as a stabilizing force; nearly half (49%) hold this view, while 38 percent believe that the US presences provokes more conflict than it prevents.


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