One of the most common answers I hear when I ask foreigners what they think about the U.S. is some variation of this: “You Americans are all so obsessed with how you’re perceived overseas.” In that spirit, even if it means reinforcing a stereotype, I’ve mapped some new data on global opinion of the United States, as part of a series of posts on Pew’s fascinating and just-out “global attitudes” study.
The map at the top of the post shows positive and negative opinions of the U.S. across the world. The poll works just like a presidential poll: Pew called people up and asked them if they had a favorable opinion of the U.S. or an unfavorable opinion (there was also a choice for no answer). Countries with a more favorable opinion are in blue (the darker the blue, the more favorable); red shows more unfavorable attitudes. A quick note about the data: most of it is from 2012, but I also pulled the 2011 numbers for Kenya, Ukraine, Indonesia and Lithuania; as well as the 2010 numbers for Argentina, Nigeria and South Korea; these countries were not included in the most recent survey.
The harshest views of America are in, no surprises, the Middle East and South Asia. Egyptians, Jordanians, Turks and Pakistanis all seem to see the United States in an overwhelmingly unfavorable light. As Turkey’s economy grows, its foreign policy becomes more assertive and democratization gives the Turkish people a stronger role in government, the negative view of the U.S. there could become more important for the world.
Still, it’s important not to make the mistake of confusing these four anti-American countries, which have their own reasons for disliking the U.S. (drones in Pakistan, perceived support for Hosni Mubarak in Egypt), with the entire Middle East or “Muslim world.” Indonesia and India, which have two of the largest Muslim populations in the world, both returned mildly positive views of America. Views vary even in the Arab Middle East; Tunisians and Lebanese seemed ambivalent, reporting roughly equivalent favorable and unfavorable numbers. And Nigerians, half of whom are Muslim, positively beam pro-Americanism: They report a more favorable view of the U.S. than Americans themselves do.
The U.S. is most popular in continental Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, as well as the northeast Asian countries of South Korea and Japan.
The death of North Korea tyrant Kim Jong Il has elicited a variety of responses from political figures on this hemisphere. Tonight on Follow the Money, Sarah Palin weighed in on both the death of the dictator and the missile launch shortly after in North Korea, and told host Eric Bolling she saw the danger as a reminder that America must focus on being secure, which means “energy independence” and “solvency with our economy.”
She also noted the short-range missile recently fired under the new leadership of the young and seemingly equally-unstable Kim Jong Un, describing it as “a firing shot across the bow to show the rest of the world that ‘we’re still here.’” To Palin, this was a reminder to be “wise in our foreign policy decisions,” and to take steps “for America to be secure, and that comes back to energy independence, that comes back to solvency with our economy… to make sure that we’re not reliant on other countries.” She concluded that America must make sure to continue “sweeping our own porch.”
These last comments concerned Bolling in light of the leadership of President Obama, “who has been apologetic towards the Muslim world,” particularly with Iran. “If [Kim Jong Un] is playing war games the first day in office,” Bolling argued, that was not a good sign, and “maybe it’s time to get a tougher president.” Palin replied in the affirmative, making the argument that the President had said as a candidate that he was open to talks with rogue nations, and that should have been a sign then that his policies would be what they are.
November 18, 2010
Switzerland has been cited in a recent US report on threats to religious freedoms in the world. While normally the report focuses on countries such as North Korea, Iran, China, and Burma, according to US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, “several European countries have imposed severe restrictions on religious expression.” The Swiss minaret ban was highlighted as an example of these restrictions by the US Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, Michael Posner, as well.
In the wake of U.S. President Barack Obama’s address to the Muslim World in Cairo, the French press compare the two leader’s leadership style, particularly their rhetoric on Islam. President Sarkozy similarly addressed the Muslim world in Riyad in January 2008. Le Monde concludes that the French President remained far more neutral and secular in his wording than the overtly-Christian President Obama. The two leaders met in Normandy to discuss international affairs including their positions on North Korea, Iran and the Middle East. Sarkozy stressed that each country must evaluate questions like the Muslim headscarf on their own criteria.