Overview When Barack Obama is sworn in as America’s new president in January, he will inherit two wars in distant lands, one highly unpopular and the other going badly, along with a worldwide financial crisis that is being measured against the Great Depression. He will confront the prospect of destructive global climate change and the spread attitudes that attract success pdf nuclear weapons to rogue states.
The president-elect has indicated that he will focus on international cooperation in addressing global problems, but he will have to navigate a world that has grown highly critical of the United States. Particularly in the most economically developed countries, people blame America for the financial crisis. Opposition to key elements of American foreign policy is widespread in Western Europe, and positive views of the U. In Muslim nations, the wars in Afghanistan and particularly Iraq have driven negative ratings nearly off the charts.
America’s image gap is the central, unmistakable finding from surveys conducted over the course of this decade by the Pew Research Center’s Pew Global Attitudes Project. Since 2002, interviewers have polled over 175,000 people in 54 nations and the Palestinian territories to compare and contrast public opinion around the world on a large variety of subjects. These years coincide almost exactly with the presidency of George W. Numerous tensions exist between Muslim and Western publics on values, policies, world events, and perceptions of one another. Despite some rough edges, globalization has enjoyed widespread popularity during the Bush years.
Surveys have found worldwide support for increased commerce across national borders. Still, enthusiasm is waning in Western Europe and the United States as rich countries become aware of accompanying dislocations. And many foreigners, even as they devour American movies and music, fear the crowding out of their own cultures. The rise of China has generated serious concerns in many countries. China is already widely regarded as one of the world’s top economic powers and is seen by many as likely to replace the United States as the world’s dominant power.
The world’s agenda is evolving but not transforming. A 2007 survey found that global publics were increasingly concerned about the growing gap between the world’s rich and poor. Concern about pollution had also increased. At the family level, people consistently named financial concerns as the most important problem in their own lives, but they did not want to see economic growth come at the expense of the environment. America’s Image Gap Mounting discontent with U. America won a measure of global sympathy after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but the inaugural Pew Global Attitudes survey showed that by spring 2002 favorability ratings for the U.
Iraq in 2003 found further declines. Positive views of the United States declined in 26 of the 33 countries where the question was posed in both 2002 and 2007. Respondents to the 2006 survey in 13 of 15 countries found the American presence in Iraq to be an equal or greater danger to stability in the Middle East than the regime of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, while 11 judged it a threat to Middle East stability greater than or equal to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Europe, in recent years world attitudes toward America’s military operations in Afghanistan have turned increasingly negative. Now in recent surveys, majorities in nearly all countries think it’s time for America to withdraw from both Iraq and Afghanistan. Westerners and Muslims: A Complex Relationship The project has documented considerable tensions between Westerners and Muslims, finding that fundamentally different views of world events are feeding these tensions. Not surprisingly, American and Muslim opinions diverge on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Americans said the ouster of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein made the world a safer place. Less expectedly, the 2006 survey found that a majority of Indonesians, Jordanians, Turks and Egyptians remained unconvinced that Arabs were responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. The furor in Islamic countries over the publication in Denmark of cartoons that depicted the prophet Muhammad revealed a similar divergence in perspective.
Respondents to the 2006 survey in four Muslim countries blamed Western disrespect for Islam. But in five Western nations, majorities attributed the controversy to Muslim intolerance of points of view other than their own. Muslims Look at the West Many Muslims have an aggrieved view of the West. America’s war on terrorism is really an effort to control Mideast oil or to dominate the world. With the exception of Argentina, all were predominantly Muslim. Middle Eastern countries widely see a U. Israel in its dispute with the Palestinians.
Westerners Evaluate Muslims By and large, non-Muslims express somewhat less negative views of Muslims than vice versa. Majorities in four of the six Western countries in the 2006 survey voiced a favorable attitude toward Muslims. Yet many in the non-Muslim world have doubts about Muslim values. Given a list of five positive characteristics and six negative ones, non-Muslims in the 2006 survey were just slightly more likely to apply the positive traits than the negative ones to Muslims.
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