Since 2002, Pew Research has carried an opinion survey they call their Global Attitudes Project, where by, they interviewed people in twenty countries about their opinions on a number of questions having to do with America. On a few questions, Americans were also surveyed. The results for 2012 have just been published and I thought it might interesting to share and comment on some of the results. I was surprised by some of the results and disturbed by others. Below is a list of the questions asked. You can click on any question to see the complete results, but first let me share my reactions to some of the results and then we will talk about US foreign policy an America’s decline in the World..
- Opinion of the United States
- Opinion of Americans
- U.S. Consideration of Other Countries’ Interests
- Confidence in the U.S. President
- U.S. Anti-Terrorism Efforts
- American Ideas and Customs
- American Democracy
- American Business
- American Music, Movies and Television
- American Technological and Scientific Advances
Opinion of the United States
Americans were included on this question and not surprising they had the most favorable opinion of the US at 80%. Sadly, that means 20% of Americans surveyed had an unfavorable opinion of the US. Considering the recent election results, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Italians and Japanese had the next most favorable opinion at over 70%. I was surprised that Germans were barely favorable on this question at 52%; the same as the Russians. Among the countries whose people have an unfavorable opinion of the US are: China (43%), India (41%), and Greece (35%). The people who like the US the least are, as you might expect, all from Muslim countries: Egypt (19%), Turkey (15%), and (12%) for both Jordan and Pakistan. We are mot exactly making many friends in Pakistan with our war in Afghanistan, are we? I’m not sure I’d like to be an American soldier in a NATO conflict and be depending on the Turks to have my back. In fact, the Turks were the only nationality that was unfavorable on all ten questions. Another NATO ally where the people don’t care much for the United States is Greece (35%).
Opinion of Americans
This question is personal. Who loves ya, baby? Next to Americans liking themselves, the Japanese like us best with a 80% favorable response to the question. At 44% favorable, the Greeks don’t like us much. Nearly 70% of Jordanians and Egyptians don;t like us. I guess getting rid of Hosni Mubarak didn’t change many Egyptian minds, did it? And, Pakistanis and Turks hate us the most, nearly 85% of them gave an unfavorable response to the question. It seems that President Obama’s efforts toreach out to the Mulim countries aren’t having much success.
U.S. Consideration of Other Countries’ Interest
This question should tell us something about how US foreign policy is perceived. Americans think we treat other contries pretty good (77%). However, only two other countries agree and then just barely. 55% of Brazilians and 51% of the Chinese think we treat others good. On this issue Greeks (19%) and Spaniards (17%) joined the Pakistanis (13%) and the Turks (17%) in thinking the US is not a good friend. It seems that US foreign policy is not making us a lot of friends.
Confidence in the U. S. President
This shouldn’t surprise you, but seven other countries have more confidence in President Obama than Americans (61%). There are, of course, no Muslim countries in that group. The seven countries include Japan and Brazil and five democratic socialist countries of Europe led by Germany (87%). And, our significant other in the war in Afghanistan, the people of Pakistan have almost no confidence in our President (7%).
America In Decline
I’ve only touched on a small part of this Pew survey on what other countries think about the United States. I hope you will spend some time reviewing the survey results in more detail because there is much we can learn about the effects of America’s past and current foreign policies. It is a shame that America has such dire domestic problems because this nation needs to have a serious national discussion about what our foreign policy should be in the future. For many decades, America has focused on two things: being the world’s policeman and becoming a socialist country. The latter effort has destroyed our economy and we are no longer competetive in world markets. Our foreign policy, if we have had a foreign policy, has been focused only on Europe and the Middle East. This narrow world focu seemed to intensify after the fall of the Soviet Union. In the last two decades, as we have focused on becoming a socialist country and ruining our economy, other countries have moved toward capitalism and growing their economies. The US may be able to maintain its dominant military position in the world for quite some time, but our position as the preeminent economic power is seeing its last days.
While we have been busy destroying our economy, other countries like China, India. Brazil, and Russia have been busy building strong economies. If you go through the Pew reports, you would have to say we have not done much to make friends with these countries. President Obama has announced that we will be ending our military presence in Afghanistan and the we are going to be making a “pivot” to Asia. That means the US will have a lessor presence in the Middle East. Guess who is going to fill that vacuum? China, Russia, and India will quickly fill the vacuum. Why? Think oil and especially natural gas . The world’s greatest supplies of oil and gas are in the area from Russia, the countries around the Caspian Sea the Middle East, and North Africa. And, because of our past and present foreign policies, the US has no friends in that region. China and India need oil and gas and countries like Russia, Iran, Turkmenistan and Iraq will be glad to work with them. Pakistan. Turkey and Syria will play an important role in the transportation of the oil and gas to deep sea ports.
While the US has ignored everywhere south of its borders and Africa, China has been busy doing business and building relationships in those parts of the world. If you travel from Mexico to Argentina, you can’t help but trip over Chinese. They are everywhere. The same is true for much of Africa in the last ten years. China is going to become the most important economic power in the world and there is little or nothing the US can do about it.
Well, that’s what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?