Introduction and Summary
Gloom and Growing Anti-Americanism
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, todayís areas of greatest conflict.
|The Pew Global Attitudes survey interviewed more than 38,000 people in 44 nations.|
|The questionnaire was translated into 63 languages and dialects. Most interviews were conducted face-to-face in the respondentís home.|
A follow-up six-nation survey finds a wide gap in opinion about a potential war with Iraq. This threatens to further fuel anti-American sentiment and divide the United States from the publics of its traditional allies and new strategic friends. But even on this highly charged issue, opinions are nuanced. Iraq is seen as a threat to regional stability and world peace by overwhelming numbers of people in allied nations, yet American motives for using force against Iraq are still suspect.
|People around the world both embrace things American and, at the same time, decry U.S. influence on their societies.|
The spread of disease is judged the top global problem in more countries than any other international threat, in part because worry about AIDS and other illnesses is so overwhelming in developing nations, especially in Africa. Fear of religious and ethnic violence ranks second, owing to strong worries about global and societal divisions in both the West and in several Muslim countries. Nuclear weapons run a close third in public concern. The publics of China, South Korea and many in the former Soviet Bloc put more emphasis on global environmental threats than do people elsewhere.
Dissatisfaction with the state of oneís country is another common global point of view. In all but a handful of societies, the public is unhappy with national conditions. The economy is the number one national concern volunteered by the more than 38,000 respondents interviewed. Crime and political corruption also emerge as top problems in most of the nations surveyed. Both issues even rival the importance of the spread of disease to the publics of AIDS-ravaged African countries.
|Some questions could not be asked in China, Vietnam and Egypt. But question wordings were not altered in any country because of official pressure.|
The primary survey was conducted over a four-month period (July-October 2002) among over 38,000 respondents. It was augmented with a separate, six-nation survey in early November, which examined opinion concerning a possible U.S. war with Iraq.
Follow-Up Survey on Iraq
Huge majorities in France, Germany and Russia oppose the use of military force to end the rule of Saddam Hussein. The British public is evenly split on the issue. More than six-in-ten Americans say they would back such an action. But the six-nation poll finds a significant degree of agreement in Europe that Iraq is a threat to the stability of the Middle East and to world peace. More people in all countries polled say the current Iraqi regime poses a danger to peace than say the same about either North Korea or Iran.
Majorities in Great Britain, Germany and France also agree with Americans that the best way to deal with Saddam is to remove him from power rather than to just disarm him. However, the French, Germans and Russians see the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians as a greater threat to stability in the Middle East than Saddamís continued rule. The American and British publics both worry more about Iraq than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Turkish respondents differ from Europeans about the danger posed by Iraq. They are divided on whether the regime in Baghdad is a threat to the stability of the region, and just a narrow 44% plurality thinks Saddam Hussein should be removed from power.
Fully 83% of Turks oppose allowing U.S. forces to use bases in their country, a NATO ally, to wage war on Iraq. Further, a 53% majority of Turkish respondents believe the U.S. wants to get rid of Saddam as part of a war against unfriendly Muslim countries, rather than because the Iraqi leader is a threat to peace.
While Europeans view Saddam as a threat, they also are suspicious of U.S. intentions in Iraq. Large percentages in each country polled think that the U.S. desire to control Iraqi oil is the principal reason that Washington is considering a war against Iraq. In Russia 76% subscribe to a war-for-oil view; so too do 75% of the French, 54% of Germans, and 44% of the British. In sharp contrast, just 22% of Americans see U.S. policy toward Iraq driven by oil interests. Two-thirds think the United States is motivated by a concern about the security threat posed by Saddam Hussein.
In addition, respondents in the five nations surveyed (aside from the U.S.) express a high degree of concern that war with Iraq will increase the risk of terrorism in Europe. Two-thirds of those in Turkey say this, as do majorities in Russia, France, Great Britain and Germany. By comparison, 45% of Americans are worried that war will raise the risk of terrorist attacks in the U.S.
Suspicions about U.S. motives in Iraq are consistent with criticisms of America apparent throughout the Global Attitudes survey. The most serious problem facing the U.S. abroad is its very poor public image in the Muslim world, especially in the Middle East/Conflict Area. Favorable ratings are down sharply in two of Americaís most important allies in this region, Turkey and Pakistan. The number of people giving the United States a positive rating has dropped by 22 points in Turkey and 13 points in Pakistan in the last three years. And in Egypt, a country for which no comparative data is available, just 6% of the public holds a favorable view of the U.S.
The war on terrorism is opposed by majorities in nearly every predominantly Muslim country surveyed. This includes countries outside the Middle East/Conflict Area, such as Indonesia and Senegal. The principal exception is the overwhelming support for Americaís anti-terrorist campaign found in Uzbekistan, where the United States currently has 1,500 troops stationed.
Sizable percentages of Muslims in many countries with significant Muslim populations also believe that suicide bombings can be justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies. While majorities see suicide bombing as justified in only two nations polled, more than a quarter of Muslims in another nine nations subscribe to this view.
U.S. image problems are not confined to Muslim countries. The worldwide polling conducted throughout the summer and fall finds few people, even in friendly nations, expressing a very favorable opinion of America, and sizable minorities in Western Europe and Canada having an unfavorable view. Many people around the world, especially in Europe and the Middle East/Conflict Area, believe the U.S. does not take into account the interests of their country when making international policies. Majorities in most countries also see U.S. policies as contributing to the growing gap between rich and poor nations and believe the United States does not do the right amount to solve global problems.
|The American public is strikingly at odds with publics around the world in its views about the U.S. role in the world and the global impact of American actions.|
Similarly, despite widespread resentment toward U.S. international policies, majorities in nearly every country believe that the emergence of another superpower would make the world a more dangerous place. This view is shared even in Egypt and Pakistan, where no more than one-in-ten have a favorable view of the U.S. And in Russia, a 53% majority believes the world is a safer place with a single superpower.
The American public is strikingly at odds with publics around the world in its views about the U.S. role in the world and the global impact of American actions. In contrast to people in most other countries, a solid majority of Americans surveyed think the U.S. takes into account the interests of other countries when making international policy. Eight-in-ten Americans believe it is a good thing that U.S. ideas and customs are spreading around the world. The criticism that the U.S. contributes to the gap between rich and poor nations is the only negative sentiment that resonates with a significant percentage of Americans (39%).
In most countries surveyed, people rate the quality of their own life much higher than the state of their nation; similarly, their rating of national conditions is more positive than their assessment of the state of the world. Even so, the survey finds yawning gaps in perceptions dividing North America and Western Europe from the rest of the world.
Americans and Canadians judge their lives better than do people in the major nations of Western Europe. But that gap is minimal when the publics of the West are contrasted with people in other parts of the world.
Asians, South Koreans excepted, are less satisfied with their lives than are Western publics. Personal contentment is especially low among Chinese and Indian respondents, and relatively few feel they have made personal progress over the past five years. Nevertheless, the Chinese and Indians are extremely optimistic about their futures. In fact, many people in Asia expect their lives to get better. This is the case in the Philippines, Vietnam, South Korea and Indonesia. The Chinese and the Vietnamese, in particular, have great confidence that their children will lead better lives than they have. By contrast, the Japanese are among the gloomiest people in Asia, whether reflecting on the past, present or the future.
|The next report from the Global Attitudes Project will focus on globalization, modernization, social attitudes and democratization.|
Argentines are at the opposite end of the attitude spectrum. Most feel their lives have gotten worse in recent years and few express optimism about a better future. Brazilians rate their lives at present in about the same way as Argentines, but more expect progress in the future.
By nearly all measures, the Turks are among the unhappiest people surveyed. More generally, the publics of the six countries in the Middle East/Conflict Area are dissatisfied with the state of their lives, and a relatively high proportion of respondents in this region also report they have been unable to afford basic necessities in the past year.
|Only in the industrialized nations are reports of doing without the basics of life limited to a distinct minority of the population.|
Yet the range of problems confronting the worldís people goes well beyond personal deprivation. Health care is high on the list of peopleís concerns, as are crime and political corruption. In most countries, majorities cite crime as a major national issue.
The Global Attitudes survey finds that people living in the most globalized countries express more satisfaction with their lives and a greater sense of personal progress than do people living in less globalized nations. However, the most globalized nations are also the richest. Among poorer countries, a nationís degree of globalization has no bearing on its citizensí satisfaction with life, feelings of personal progress or optimism.
Personal Progress In Eastern Europe
The publics of the former Soviet Bloc nations continue to lag behind Western Europeans in life satisfaction, but express more contentment than they did in the early 1990s. However, in the past five years Eastern Europeans report less personal progress than do Western Europeans.
Czechs have clearly made the smoothest adjustment from the communist era. They rate their lives and the state of their country better than other countries in the region. But there are still two Germanys when it comes to personal satisfaction Ė the citizens of the former East Germany are much happier than they were in 1991, but they have yet to catch up with their West German counterparts.
Global Esteem for Military and Media
|Some of the pollís questions track changes from a 1991, 13-nation poll, ďThe Pulse of Europe.Ē|
Perhaps reflecting international worries, the military emerges as a highly rated institution in most countries of the world. The notable exceptions are Latin American countries, notably Guatemala, Argentina and Peru. The military not only gets a better rating than the national governments in most countries, it also is more highly regarded than religious leaders in most of Europe, Asia and many countries in the Middle East/Conflict Area. This is not the case, however, in most African and Latin American nations.
|Lopsided majorities in just about every country surveyed say that news organizations have a beneficial impact on their societies.|
Other notable findings:
- Unlike many publics, the Russians have a much better opinion
of the United States than they had in 2000. Six-in-ten Russian
respondents have a favorable view of the U.S. now, compared with
37% two years ago.
- For all of the French criticism of U.S. policies, Americaís
image in France has not declined over the past two years. Still,
French ratings of the United States continue to be among the
lowest in Europe.
- There remains a substantial gap in personal satisfaction in
Germany, with respondents in former West Germany more positive
about their lives than their counterparts in the East. But former
West Germans are the sole European public that showed no increase
in personal satisfaction since the early 1990s.
- The post-communist generation in Eastern Europe is much more
upbeat about their lives than those age 35 and older.
- Despite deep dissatisfaction and pessimism about their lives
and country, an unusually high proportion of Japanese say they
have no major personal concerns.
- People in the West express more satisfaction with their lives
than do those in emerging nations. But this pattern is reversed
when respondents are asked about the future of their nationís
children. Asians, in particular, are much more optimistic about
prospects for the next generation than are Americans or Europeans.
- Publics all around the world are more satisfied with their
family lives than with their incomes or jobs. But people in
several countries Ė in Africa, the Middle East/Conflict Area and
Eastern Europe Ė voice significant discontent with their family
- While crime is a top national problem all around the world, it
ranks high as a pressing personal concern in Latin American
countries, especially in Honduras.
- Fully 15% of Americans say there have been times in the past
year they have been unable to afford food Ė the highest proportion
in any advanced economy. But levels of reported deprivation in
Angola are highest in the world; 86% of Angolans report being
unable to afford food at some point in the last 12 months.
- Africa is the only region in which a significant minority
volunteers hunger as a personal problem.
- Canada is the only country in the West in which a majority of those surveyed express satisfaction with national conditions.
Roadmap to the Report
The first section of the report looks at how people evaluate their lives and concerns. Section II focuses on public attitudes toward national conditions and institutions. Section III examines public views of the world and global threats. Section IV analyzes how the people of the world view the United States.
A description of the Pew Global Attitudes Project, its board of international advisers, and complete list of the countries surveyed immediately follows. A summary of the research process and methodology can be found at the end of the report, along with complete results for all countries surveyed.