Global poll: Distrust in US on the rise

Updated: 2007-06-28 09:52

Washington - Unease with American foreign policy and US President Bush has intensified in countries that are some of the closest US allies and around the globe, while Russia and China also face growing international wariness, a survey released Wednesday said.

Support for the US-led war in Iraq, the NATO military action in Afghanistan and worldwide American efforts against terrorism have dropped since 2002, according to an international survey by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center. Views of the United States in much of the Muslim world remain particularly negative.

In one measure of Bush's unpopularity, the poll showed he is less trusted on foreign policy than Russian President Vladimir Putin by allies Britain, Germany and Canada, even as faith in Putin has plummeted. About half in the United States say they have little or no trust in either leader's conduct of foreign affairs.

Bush's sagging numbers partly reflect widespread opposition to the US war in Iraq. Of the countries surveyed -- which included the United States -- more people favored the removal of American forces from Iraq in all but Israel, Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya.

"Even though there is a mixed view of the United States around the world, there is increasing disapproval of the principal cornerstones of our foreign policy," said Pew President Andrew Kohut.

Speaking at the Islamic Center of Washington on Wednesday, Bush accused religious extremists in the Middle East of seeking to fan anti-American sentiment.

"This enemy falsely claims that America is at war with Muslims and the Muslim faith, when in fact it is these radicals who are Islam's true enemy," he said.

The poll covered 46 countries plus the Palestinian territories.

The United States is still seen favorably in most countries surveyed, including India, Japan, Italy, Israel and many countries in Africa. American culture and technology are widely admired, and many believe a better life can be had by moving to the United States.

Deep concerns

Yet wide-ranging majorities think the United States does not consider their interests when formulating foreign policy; worry that US customs are hurting their countries; and think the United States contributes to the gap between rich and poor countries.

As the US has waged its war on terrorism over the past five years, its overall image has worsened. It has dropped from 75 percent favorable in Britain in 2002 to 51 percent now; from 60 percent to 30 percent in Germany; and from 64 percent to 56 percent in Mexico.

Views of the United States have also slipped in Russia, Indonesia, Canada, China and India. The United States is seen favorably by 9 percent in NATO ally Turkey, the lowest of any country measured; 13 percent in the Palestinian territories; and by 15 percent in Pakistan and 20 percent in Jordan, both terror-war partners.

Though Putin is popular in Russia, his worldwide image has declined. Only in China, Ukraine and a handful of African nations did most express trust in his foreign policy.

Views of Russia are mixed, with slightly favorable opinions in the United States, China, India and South Korea. Majorities in most European countries express worries about reliance on Russian energy, following last year's Russian cutoff of natural gas to Ukraine during a clash over prices.

Views of China worsen

Though more than half the nations polled have positive views of China, its image has worsened. China is seen most favorably by countries in Africa and Latin America, where its trade has recently grown, and in Asia, though two-thirds in Japan view it negatively.

Majorities in most countries think China's economic growth is good for them, with concerns expressed in Western Europe and India. Unease with China's military was rising, with majorities in some countries surveyed expressing worries -- notably neighbors Japan and South Korea, much of Europe and the United States.

The report also found:

-- Concern over environmental issues has grown more than any other world problems the poll tested. The United States was viewed as the primary culprit by far, trailed distantly by China.

-- 37 percent in the United States named the environment as a major concern -- less than in any other advanced nation surveyed.

-- The spread of nuclear weapons and ethnic hatred were the two most often cited worries in the Middle East. For sub-Saharan Africa, it was AIDS and other diseases, and the gap between rich and poor.

-- While views of American people have gotten worse in many countries, they are generally better liked than the United States itself.

Top World News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours