Each year, the United States seems to slide ever lower in the world’s esteem. But not everyone hates America. Hidden inside a new 47-nation Pew Global Attitudes Survey are some surprising oases of support for the world’s sole superpower.
Along with much of sub-Saharan Africa, the Ivory Coast gives the United States top popularity points. The small West African country is the only country where more than half the respondents give the United States a very favorable rating, and more than 4 out of 5 respondents have overall favorable views of America, the highest in the world.
Why: Democracy and doing business. Sub-Saharan African countries report some of the highest levels of admiration for U.S. democracy and the way Americans do business. They are also nearly alone in their estimation that U.S. policy considers the interests of countries like theirs before acting. Also held in the highest regard: U.S. achievements in science and technology.
Its little surprise that one of the United States foremost allies remains a staunch supporter. But it may be admiration of policy more than people: Israel is one of the few countries polled where favorable views of America (78 percent) outdo its favorable views of Americans (75 percent).
Why: The war on terror. More than 3 in 4 Israelis say they favor U.S. efforts to fight terrorism, a far higher proportion than in most other countries, even the United States, where 70 percent approve of the war on terror. Americas popularity in Israel may be a result of the fact that overwhelming majorities in nearly all of its Middle Eastern neighbors think the United States favors Israel too much. Even Israelis believe it: 42 percent of Israelis believe the United States gives them too much support, while just 37 percent believe U.S. policies are fair toward their country and the Palestinians.
The country has emerged as one of the United States strongest allies in Europe in recent years, sending troops to both Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, U.S. President George W. Bush wants key parts of a proposed missile defense system to be based in the country in order to thwart future missile threats from Iran. He may get his wish: 79 percent of Poles believe Iran acquiring nuclear weapons to be a serious threat to their country.
Why: The pursuit of the good life. Besides posting strong admiration for American culture and technology, nearly two thirds of Poles polled said those who move to the United States have a better life. And Americas popularity could have something to do with Polish concerns about Russias rise. Fifty-eight percent of Poles declare an unfavorable opinion of Russia, and zerothats right, zeropercent have a lot of confidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin can be trusted to do the right thing.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chvez may have recently told his people that a U.S. invasion was imminent, they dont seem to mind: 56 percent of Venezuelans polled still like the United States. And a surprising number of the countrys Latin American neighbors are also feeling the love. More than half of Mexicans and Chileans polled still have favorable opinions of the United States. But America is most popular in Peru, where it enjoys a 61 percent favorable rating.
Why: Its not President Bush. His approval ratings are in the single digits across Latin America. But that doesnt stop 60 percent of Peruvians, 54 percent of Bolivians, and 45 percent of Venezuelans from supporting the U.S.-led war on terror. And then theres Americas soft power: 71 percent of Venezuelans like American music, movies, and television, the highest percentage in the region.
And who dislikes America?
Who: The Middle East and Old Europe. The United States has to settle for favorable ratings in the low double digits in Pakistan, Morocco, and the Palestinian territories, though views today in countries like Jordan and Indonesia are higher than they were in 2003. In Western Europe, the United States reputation has fallen steadily since 2000, when strong majorities across the continent held the United States in strong esteem. But its Turkey that shows the least regard for America: just 9 percent of those polled have a favorable view.
Why: Iraq. Majorities across the Muslim world and Western Europe favor removing troops from Iraq sooner rather than later. Overall, the U.S.-led war on terror receives poor marks from Britain to Bangladesh.
Note: All data via the 47-country Pew Global Attitudes Project study released June 27, 2007.
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