Much of the world has come to see the United States more favorably under President Barack Obama, according to a survey of 24 nations released in Washington. The marked improvement in America's image does not extend to the Muslim world, where negative views of the United States persist.
The poll documents a revival of America's image, according to Andrew Kohut, who heads the Global Attitudes Project of the Pew Research Center.
"In many countries, opinions of the United States are now about as positive as they were at the beginning of the decade before President Bush took office," said Andrew Kohut.
With a total of 26,000 respondents worldwide, the poll found the biggest boost in U.S. favorability ratings in Europe. In France, for instance, 75 percent view the United States favorably compared to 42 percent a year ago. Double-digit gains were also recorded in Mexico, Brazil, India, and China. In fact, of 24 nations polled, only in Israel did views of the United States sour. Israel was also the only nation to see a drop in the percentage of respondents who said the United States will "do the right thing in world affairs."
President Obama gets high marks compared to his predecessor, President George W. Bush. Eighty -six percent of Britons express confidence in Mr. Obama, compared to 16 percent last year for Mr. Bush. In Canada and Japan, Mr. Obama scores 60 percent higher than his predecessor. The difference is 54 percent in Argentina, 51 percent in South Korea, and 33 percent in Nigeria.
The numbers are less impressive for the United States in the Muslim world. Twenty-seven percent of Egyptians have a favorable view of the United States today, up just five points from a year ago. In Pakistan, 16 percent rate America favorably, a number that has remained relatively constant for the last three years. Among majority-Muslim nations, only in Indonesia have views of the United States improved significantly, likely due to the fact that Mr. Obama spent part of his childhood in Jakarta.
Andrew Kohut does point to one accomplishment in the Muslim world:
"One of the most significant things in terms of Muslim attitudes is that, for the first time, we see more confidence in the American president than in Osama bin Laden," he said.
America's improved global image combined with President Obama's popularity on the world stage will pay dividends for the United States, according to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, co-chairperson of the Pew Global Attitudes Project.
"How to fight terrorism, nuclear proliferation - those kinds of issues that cannot be dealt with by one country alone - having a [U.S.] president who is viewed as somebody who wants to use multilateral tools, wants to reach out, is very important," said Madeleine Albright.
But another co-chairman, former Republican Senator John Danforth, says President Obama's popularity and America's boosted image have not yielded results in terms of additional NATO troop commitments to Afghanistan or other nations accepting prisoners from the U.S. detainee camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
"It is nice to be popular," said John Danforth. "You would rather have people cheer you than throw eggs at you. The president is being heard, he is telling people [abroad] what they want to hear. He is apologizing. He is saying that we [the United States] will get out of Iraq and close down Guantanamo. But when he does ask for something [from international partners], I do not see that he gets anything."
The Pew poll was conducted in May and June, and has been done on a yearly basis since 2002.