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Survey: Americans Worried About Place in the World

The latest Confidence in U.S. Foreign Policy Index finds Americans worried about their nation's place in the world and increasingly concerned about the Untied States' energy dependence.

The bipartisan Foreign Policy Index tracks the reactions of Americans to major international issues. The autumn 2006 survey finds the American public concerned about its image abroad. Roughly 87 seven percent of those surveyed said it is a threat to national security when the rest of the world sees the United States negatively.

Previous polls have found Americans troubled by issues concerning Iraq and illegal immigration. Ruth Wooden is the president of Public Agenda, the non-partisan research group that conducts the poll. She says energy dependence has joined the list of troubling issues.

"So very quickly, the research headline for this edition: Five years after the 9/11, terrorist attacks we have eight in 10 Americans who say the world is becoming more dangerous for Americans," she noted. "Six in 10 say the nation's foreign policy is on the wrong track. Seven in 10 say the U.S. is doing a fair or poor job in creating a more peaceful and prosperous world. And Americans increasingly believe that the rest of the world perceives us as arrogant."

The current Index introduces a new "anxiety indicator", measuring the public's comfort level with international policies and the nation's position in the world. On a scale of zero to 200, the current anxiety indicator stands at 130.

Public Agenda founder Daniel Yankelovich, a major U.S. pollster, says several issues are at a so-called tipping point, a point where a substantial majority are concerned and believe the government has the power to make changes. He says Iraq and the nation's energy dependence have reached that point and cannot be easily dismissed by politicians.

"The reason that we brought this second point, this tipping point, to bear toward foreign policy is that unlike domestic policy, the leadership in the foreign policy establishment, the experts, are quite free to ignore public opinion until it reaches a certain point," he noted. "When it reaches that point, then they have to pay attention to it. So we thought it would be useful to have a sense of what issues have reached that point."

According to the poll, concerns about the United States' relations with Muslim countries and the rise of Islamic extremism have risen since the last poll was conducted in January.