- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 2, 2006

LONDON — A YouGov survey completed for the Daily Telegraph ahead of the July Fourth holiday suggests that British regard for the United States is lower than at any time in memory.

A majority of Britons think American culture and the actions of the Bush administration are making the world a worse place to live in, and almost no one thinks the United States is now, if it ever was, a beacon to the world, the survey found.

More than half of those interviewed regard the United States as an imperial power bent on dominating the world.

More than three-quarters of Britons think President Bush is a “poor” or even “terrible” world leader, and almost as many think his rhetoric about promoting the cause of democracy in the world is a cover to promote U.S. national interests.

Americans are still held in high regard in Britain, but America’s role in the world is not. The so-called “special relationship” may still thrive in official government circles, but it obviously has atrophied among the British public.

A large majority of Britons like Americans either “a little” (49 percent) or “a lot” (21 percent), and 54 percent are inclined to feel positively about the United States in general. There are certainly few signs in YouGov’s findings of an across-the-board anti-American prejudice.

The core problem is with America’s relations with the rest of the world. Fully 69 percent of Britons say their overall opinion of the United States has worsened in recent years.

YouGov also asked respondents to assess the Bush administration’s effect beyond U.S. shores. Their assessment was overwhelmingly negative.

Fewer than one-quarter, 22 percent, think the Bush administration’s policies and actions make the world a better place. And 65 percent regard U.S. influence in the world today as predominantly malign.

The reputation of American culture — fast-food restaurants, popular music, Hollywood movies — stands somewhat higher, with more than a third of YouGov’s respondents approving of its worldwide influence. Even so, 52 percent regard America’s impact as pernicious.

The figures in the section of the chart headed “America, Bush and the world” paint an even bleaker picture. Many Americans like to think of the United States as a beacon to the world — as its “last, best hope.” That view is not shared across the ocean.

Only one in nine Britons, 11 percent, accepts that view. And 77 percent were startled by the idea that the United States may be setting the rest of the world a good example.

As the figures in the chart show, confidence in America’s ability to handle problems outside its borders has plummeted in the past three decades. The Gallup Poll in 1975 found that 27 percent of Britons had considerable confidence in U.S. leadership. That figure has fallen to 12 percent.

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