A Rising Anti-American Tide

The International Herald Tribune last week featured an article and poll on the rising anti-American tide as demonstated by a survey of global citizens' attitudes to themselves and the world. The poll was conducted by the non-partisan Pew research center in Washington.

"Despite an initial outpouring of public sympathy for America following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, discontent with the United States has grown around the world over the past two years. Images of the U.S. have been tarnished in all types of nations: among longtime NATO allies, in developing countries, in Eastern Europe and, most dramatically, in Muslim societies."

"Since 2000, favorability ratings for the U.S. have fallen in 19 of the 27 countries where trend benchmarks are available. While criticism of America is on the rise, however, a reserve of goodwill toward the United States still remains. The Pew Global Attitudes survey finds that the U.S. and its citizens continue to be rated positively by majorities in 35 of the 42 countries in which the question was asked. True dislike, if not hatred, of America is concentrated in the Muslim nations of the Middle East and in Central Asia, today’s areas of greatest conflict."

"The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States drew widespread sympathy abroad. But as the survey shows, that sympathy has dwindled in the publics of several countries, testing even the support of traditional allies. Huge majorities in France and Germany, as well as Russia, oppose the use of force to depose President Saddam Hussein of Iraq."

"Even as Washington has inaugurated a global campaign to improve its image in Muslim countries in hopes of eroding support for terrorism, the poll found substantial support in many Muslim countries for the notion that violence is justifiable in defense of Islam."

"Madeleine Albright, the former U.S. secretary of state, called that result ‘‘absolutely stunning’’ and ‘‘very difficult to absorb.’’ Albright, who chairs the Pew Global Attitudes Project, said that ‘‘clearly, an awful lot of work needs to be done for us to understand Islam, and for Muslim nations to understand what we’re about.’’

"The notion of justifiable violence found the lowest level of support among the Muslims of Tanzania, Turkey and Uzbekistan, all below 20 percent."

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