The global outpouring of public sympathy for the United States following the September 11 terrorist attacks has dissipated, according to a study released in Washington Wednesday. The study, based on a survey of 38,000 people in 44 countries, also shows AIDS is on top the peoples' worry list. The report is called "What the World Thinks in 2002" and it finds global gloom, anti-Americanism and worldwide opposition to the possibility of war with Iraq.
Pew Research Center director Andrew Kohut, who also led the Global Attitudes project, says international favorability ratings for the United States have largely declined over the last two years around the world, particularly in Muslim countries. "True dislike, if not hatred, of America is concentrated in the Muslim nations of the conflict area. Their unfavorable ratings are in the 60's and 70's [percent] , in five of the six Muslim nations in this part of the world," he says. "Only the Uzbeks say they like the U.S. and the American people." He added that he was especially struck by a decline in the image of the United States in two important Muslim allies, in Turkey and Pakistan.
Mr. Kohut said the souring attitudes toward America coincide with the discontent that people everywhere feel about the world in general. He said Canadians and Americans are the most satisfied with their lives, but others have a less sunny outlook. "Japanese are among the gloomiest people on the planet. Despite their high per capita income, they feel very little personal progress. They're not as happy as they should be, given their incomes. And they're not optimistic," he says. "While the Chinese and Indian publics are not content with their present life, there is a great sense of optimism in Asia about the potential for life getting better. That's true in China. That's true in India. And it's really very true in Vietnam."
Mr. Kohut said the spread of diseases, such as AIDS, is most widely seen as the top global problem. He said ethnic and religious hatreds are another leading concern, especially in Europe, while worldwide worries over the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction run a close third.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who chairs the Pew Global Attitudes project, says the study's numbers confirm the suspicions that negative worldwide opinion about America is on the rise. "We have seen this coming since the end of the Cold War," she says. "You know, it used to be two superpowers, and we divided the hatred that exists toward the major countries. So, we are now absorbing this general sense of the fact that we are now the big guy."
Ms. Albright, who was Secretary of State in the Clinton administration, stressed that the report is not meant as a criticism of the current Bush administration. But she said she hopes the government takes the study into consideration in making foreign policy.