The New York Times
June 4, 2003
World's View of U.S. Sours After Iraq War, Poll Finds
By CHRISTOPHER MARQUIS
WASHINGTON, June 3 _ The war in Iraq may have been a military success, but it has only deepened international skepticism toward the United States, its global policies and President Bush, with even military allies voicing growing disappointment or suspicion, a new poll has found.
The war, moreover, has rattled much of the Muslim world, prodding majorities in most countries to worry about the future of Islam and American military ambitions within their borders, the poll showed.
In a survey conducted since the end of hostilities in Iraq, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press has released new data as part of an ambitious project to assess changes in global attitudes. The nonpartisan center surveyed 38,000 people in 44 nations during the summer and fall of 2002, and followed up with interviews of 16,000 people in 20 nations and in the areas administered by the Palestinian Authority after the end of the war.
"The war has widened the rift between Americans and Western Europeans, further inflamed the Muslim world, softened support for the war on terrorism, and significantly weakened global public support for the pillars of the post-World War II era _ the U.N. and the North Atlantic alliance," said Andrew Kohut, the Pew center's director.
Favorable views of the United States have declined in nearly every country since last summer.
Some of the sharpest turns in public opinion took place in Western Europe, where, for example, more than 60 percent of the French and the Germans held a favorable view of the United States last summer. After a difficult dispute over whether the United Nations should authorize the Iraq war, the follow-up poll showed that positive views of the United States had dwindled to 45 percent in Germany, 43 percent in France and even 38 percent in Spain, where the government supported the war.
Russians, who gave the United States a 61 percent favorable rating last summer, have turned far more critical, with only 36 percent now voicing support.
Americans are returning the ill will. Sixty percent of them feel negatively toward France, which led the opposition to international action against Iraq, a drastic turnaround since last year when 79 percent held favorable views.
Majorities in only 7 of 20 foreign nations surveyed had a favorable view of the United States _ Israel, Britain, Kuwait, Canada, Nigeria, Australia and Italy. But even in most of these nations, support for the United States has slipped.
Dislike of the United States has spread in the Muslim world. Majorities in seven out of eight predominantly Muslim nations expressed a worry that their countries might be threatened by the United States. They voiced concern that Islam itself was in jeopardy, and large majorities in Indonesia, Jordan and the areas administered by the Palestinian Authority expressed at least some confidence in Osama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Despite his popularity at home, President Bush is a polarizing figure abroad. Nations that expressed unfavorable views toward the United States overwhelmingly said the problem was "mostly Bush" and not "America in general."
Yet, for all their misgivings about the United States, most nations support the democratic, free-market model that America advocates, and even embrace the tenets of globalization, the survey found. Most Muslim populations expressed the view that Western-style democracy could work in their countries.
One of the biggest casualties of the war was the credibility of the United Nations. Only a handful of nations see the world body as a positive influence in the world today.
"The idea that the U.N. is less relevant is much more prevalent now than it was just before the war, and is shared by people in countries that backed the war, the U.S. and Britain, as well as in nations that opposed it, notably France and Germany," Mr. Kohut said.
Support has slipped for the American-led war against terrorism. Majorities in Western Europe and AustraliWorld's View of U.S. Sours Afte.ems a still back the fight, but support has dropped 15 points in France and 10 points in Germany since last summer. The staunchest allies in the antiterrorism battle are Israel, at 85 percent; Italy, at 70 percent; Australia and Canada, at 68 percent each; Great Britain and Spain, at 63 percent; and Germany, Nigeria and France, at 60 percent each.
In mostly Muslim nations, people take a harsher view. Fewer than one in four in Indonesia, Pakistan, Turkey and Jordan support the war on terror. In Morocco, only one in 10 backs the effort. There is considerable concern in several nations that the American policy of pre-emption could pose a threat against them, especially in Indonesia (with 74 percent very worried or somewhat worried) and Nigeria and Pakistan, at 72 percent each.
The United States was widely believed to favor Israel. In every country surveyed _ with the exception of the United States _ majorities or pluralities said American policy excessively favored Israel over the Palestinians. Even the Israelis agreed, with 47 percent saying they receive too much favor, compared with 38 percent who say the policy is evenhanded, the survey found.
There are strong doubts among Muslim populations over whether Israel and a Palestinian state can coexist in a way that meets the Palestinians' needs. Eight in 10 Palestinians are dubious, but two-thirds of Israelis believe it is possible. Outside the Muslim world _ especially in North America and Europe _ there is a consensus that the aspirations of both nations can be accommodated.
The survey, called "Views of a Changing World," was released today by Madeleine K. Albright, the former secretary of state who is chairwoman of the global project. The latest survey was conducted with about 500 to 1,000 adults in 20 countries and the area administered by the Palestinian Authority. The polling was done by telephone and face-to-face interviews in late April and May. In most countries, the survey involved national population samples, but others were done onlWorld's View of U.S. Sours Afte.ems y in urban areas. The margin of sampling error ranges from plus or minus three percentage points to four percentage points.
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