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U.S. image declines worldwide, poll says
McClatchy Newspapers


June 28, 2005

WASHINGTON - U.S. emergency aid to Asian nations battered by a tsunami has boosted the United States' image abroad, but the war in Iraq, with blame placed on President Bush, has cast Americans into a unfavorable light around the world, according to a new poll.

In the view of Europeans, Americans are hardworking, honest and inventive, but also greedy and violent, said Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, a non-partisan think tank in Washington. A majority of Canadians regard Americans as rude, but only 35 percent of Americans see their countrymen as rude, the poll found.

Kohut said that interviews with more than 16,000 people in 15 foreign nations showed that the United States "remains broadly disliked," with a decline in positive attitudes to individual Americans.

With violence raging in Iraq, the Muslim world holds a "quite negative hostility toward America," although many Muslims credit the United States for trying to bring democracy to the Middle East.

Nearly half of Turks say they have a very unfavorable view of Americans, up from 32 percent a year ago.

But the U.S. image has improved in Indonesia, thanks to the U.S. aid after the Dec. 26 tsunami. Positive opinion of the United States in Indonesia slipped to 15 percent in 2003 but rebounded after the tsunami to 38 percent, Kohut reported.

Kohut said that opinion of the United States is most unfavorable among traditional U.S. allies. "Support for the U.S.-led war on terror has plummeted in Span and eroded elsewhere in Europe," according to the Pew Global Attitudes Project.

Even the British and Canadians look more favorably on Germany, France and China than they do on the United States, the report said.

But the U.S. image is good in some countries. "Attitudes toward the U.S. in the former Soviet bloc nations of Poland and Russia are much more positive than in most of Western Europe," the poll said. "In Russia, favorable opinion of its former Cold War adversary has swelled from 36 percent in 2002 to 52 percent currently. Opinions of the U.S. in Poland have declined since 2002, but still remain relatively positive at 62 percent."

Canadians, however, have "an increasingly negative view of both the U.S. and the American people," Kohut said.

America's image is strongest in India, Kohut said: "Fully 71 percent in India express a positive opinion of the United States, compared with 54 percent three years ago."

The poll, conducted in April and May, found that the United States and India are the only countries surveyed in which pluralities believe Saddam Hussein's removal from power has made the world safer.

While people in most nations surveyed viewed Americans as hardworking and honest, it was different in China.

"A majority of Chinese associate Americans with being violent and greedy," the poll showed. "The one positive trait most Chinese associate with Americans is inventive."

"The biggest gap between the way Americans are seen by other Western countries and the way they see themselves," the poll said, "is with respect to religion."

Majorities in France and the Netherlands and large numbers of people in Great Britain, Germany, Canada and Spain "see the U.S. as too religious," Pew reported.

"By contrast, a 54 percent majority of Americans say their country is not religious enough," Kohut said. "On this point, Muslims find themselves in rare agreement with the American public. Majorities in Indonesia, Pakistan, Lebanon and Turkey all believe the United States is not religious enough."


Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.

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