A new international poll released Thursday reveals that anti-American feelings remain high in several parts of the world, two years after the United States' invasion of Iraq. The survey, carried out by the private Pew Research Center, found America's image abroad received mixed reviews.
Americans are described as hardworking, inventive and honest in many of the countries surveyed, but they are also seen as violent, greedy, and sometimes rude. These opinions do not come as a great surprise to many Americans, who were also surveyed, and in some cases expressed similar opinions about their countrymen.
The United States' image was particularly weak in the Muslim world, where there were strongly negative perceptions of the United States, even among such allies as Turkey and Pakistan.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who is a co-chair of the project, said she finds the results in the Muslim world troubling. "The fact that we are widely disliked in the Muslim world means we must develop some kind of different and more positive policies towards the Muslim world since that is one of the major challenges we have," she said.
But there was one bright spot for the United States in the Muslim world. Andrew Kohut, the Pew Research Center's President and Director of the Global Attitudes Project singled-out Indonesia, which is the most populous Muslim country in the world, as a major success story.
"Favorable opinion of US had sunk to 15 percent in 2002, it rebounded to 38 percent in the current survey. Not as good as the 55 percent before the war in Iraq, but the needle really moved in Indonesia," he said.
In 10 of the countries surveyed, the majority of the public held unfavorable views of the United States. Several of those countries were in Western Europe, where opposition to the Iraq war was very high. More than 40 percent of French, Germans and Spaniards said they do not have a favorable view of the United States.
In China, the perception of the United States is about evenly split between favorable and unfavorable. But a majority of Chinese think Americans are greedy and violent, and that the U.S.-led war in Iraq made the world more dangerous. The Chinese also say they do not think Americans are particularly hard-working.
State Department spokesman Adam Ereli says the United States is well aware of the public diplomacy challenges it faces and is trying to improve America's image. "We are getting out there. We are being I think open and up front about what we think, what we believe in, what we stand for and trying to explain that and present a case for our actions and our beliefs. But importantly we are trying to listen and hear what people think and how they feel about us and what they think of what we are doing and try to be responsive," he said.
Former Republican Senator John Danforth, who was also a U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and is a co-chair of the Pew project, says some of America's traditional allies are more concerned about the United States and want to be more independent of it. "They see this new threatening world as a hornet's nest. The United States is the strong country trying to deal with the hornet's nest and, in their view, stir up the hornet's nest. And that makes them worried and concerned about the United States," he said.
Mrs. Albright says the United States can learn from the survey's findings. "We can improve our image if we undertake humanitarian tasks, if we support democracy without imposing democracy, and that we can mitigate some of our problems if we take other countries' national interests into calculations as we create our own. And finally, a positive outcome in Iraq is absolutely vital," she said.
The Pew survey interviewed more than 16-thousand people in the United States and 15 other countries, including Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Russia, Poland, Turkey, Pakistan, India, Lebanon, Jordan, Indonesia and China during April and May.