Fewer Countries See U.s. As Positive Influence

As President Obama prepares to host back-to-back G8 and NATO summits, a survey tracking public opinion in 22 countries has found a slight drop over the past year in the number of people who view the United States as having a positive influence in the world.

Some of the biggest individual year-on-year declines were recorded in Russia, Chile, Ghana and Nigeria; moving in the other direction, Britain, France, Spain, Mexico and Kenya accounted for sizeable increases in the number of people holding positive views of U.S. influence.

The survey of 24,090 people was conducted by GlobeScan and the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes, on behalf of the BBC World Service.

Other findings included a growing negative view in the countries surveyed of the European Union, and a more positive one of China.

Overall, Japan, Germany and Canada were regarded as having the most positive influence, while Israel was lumped with Iran, Pakistan and North Korea as countries viewed as having the most negative influence.

Countries surveyed in the poll were the United States, Canada, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Mexico, France, Britain, Spain, Germany, Russia, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt, South Korea, China, Japan, Indonesia, India Pakistan and Australia.

Across all the countries surveyed (but excluding the U.S.) an average of 47 percent of respondents held positive views of United States’ influence in the world (down one percentage point since 2011) while 33 percent held negative views (up two points since 2011).

Countries accounting for the biggest negative views of the U.S. were Pakistan (61 percent negative), China (48 percent), Russia (47 percent) and Germany and Egypt (both 45 percent).

Countries with the most positive views of the U.S. in 2012 – irrespective of the sizes or directions of shift since 2011 – were Kenya (79 percent positive), Nigeria (69 percent) and South Korea and France (both 62 percent).

The proportion of respondents with positive views of the U.S. jumped over the past year by 16 points in France, 14 points in Britain, 10 points in Spain and seven points in Germany.

In Latin America the trend was in the opposite direction, with positive views of the U.S. dropping by 15 points in Chile, nine points in Brazil and seven points in Peru.

Positive ratings in Russia declined by 14 percentage points since 2011, despite the Obama administration’s efforts to “reset” the bilateral relationship.

Among other findings in the survey:

--Positive views of the E.U. across the surveyed countries declined by eight points since 2011, to 48 percent positive. Respondents in Britain – a member of the E.U. but not the eurozone – were equally divided on whether the E.U. is a positive or negative influence.

--Positive views of China rose on average by four points over the past year, to 50 percent positive.

China’s highest support levels were recorded in Nigeria (89 percent), Pakistan (76 percent) and Kenya (75 percent), and its lowest among its near-neighbors – Japan (10 percent), India (30 percent) and South Korea (33 percent).

Over the past year, positive views of China held in Western countries have climbed significantly – an increase of 19 points in Britain, 18 points in Canada, Australia and Germany, 12 points in France and Spain, and six points in the U.S.

Favorable views of China declined in Latin America since 2011 – by eight points in Chile and seven points each in Brazil and Peru.

--An average of only 21 percent of respondents said Israel had a positive influence in the world, just slightly higher than North Korea (19 percent), Pakistan (16 percent) and Iran (16 percent.)

Israel’s biggest positive ratings came from Nigeria (54 percent positive) and the U.S. (50 percent), and its biggest negatives from Egypt (85 percent negative), Spain (74 percent) and Germany and South Korea (69 percent each). Fifty-nine percent of respondents in Canada – whose government is arguably the most pro-Israel in the world – viewed Israel as a negative influence in the world, while only 25 percent viewed it as a positive one.

--An average of 55 percent of respondents across the surveyed countries regard Iran as having a negative influence, with Britain (85 percent), France (82 percent), Canada (81 percent) and the U.S. and Australia (80 percent each) holding the biggest share of negative views. Iran’s most favorable ratings came from Nigeria (40 percent positive) and Pakistan and Indonesia (both 38 percent).

--North Korea got its most positive ratings in Nigeria (51 percent positive), China (37 percent), Kenya (35 percent) and Egypt (34 percent), and its most negative scores in South Korea (91 percent negative), Japan (88 percent), France, Germany and Australia (81 percent each) and the U.S. (79 percent).

--Pakistan’s biggest negative ratings came from the U.S. (75 percent negative), Britain (73 percent) and Australia (72 percent). In no country surveyed – not even Pakistan itself – did more respondents view the country as having a positive than a negative influence in the world.

Jones47 Jones47
61-65, M
May 17, 2012