- The Washington Times - Monday, December 9, 2002

Madeleine K. Albright didn't try to hide her delight at exercising American power in her globe-trotting days as secretary of state, even though her calling the United States the "indispensable nation" provoked anger and resentment abroad.
As she studied a new poll last week showing growing global discontent with the world's only superpower, the former top diplomat pondered a question that seems ever more relevant as Washington wages a war on terrorism and prepares a possible military attack against Iraq: Can you run the world if it doesn't like you?
Mrs. Albright, who is also a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, chaired the survey of people in 44 countries surveyed by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, which also revealed growing unease about the state of a world vulnerable to terrorism on every continent.
"Some leaders would say: 'We don't care if we are liked or not. We'll just go ahead because we are the sole superpower, and if people think they are safer with us, what does it matter if they don't like us?'" Mrs. Albright said in an interview.
According to the survey published last week, most people in nearly every country have little problem with the United States being the only superpower. Even in Russia, whose pride was hurt when it was reduced to a second-class power after the Cold War, a majority thinks that overall, the world is now a safer place.
"But you can't ultimately run the world if nobody likes you," Mrs. Albright said. "The British empire ended to a great extent because the people revolted against its huge reach. They wanted out of it."
The poll found that favorable opinions of the United States have slipped among NATO allies, in Eastern Europe, Asia, Latin America and, most dramatically, in the Muslim world. The few exceptions are Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Nigeria.
"Although the United States is admired for its technological achievements and cultural exports, the spread of American influence is disliked by majorities" in almost all of the 44 countries surveyed, said Andy Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center.
"The least objection is in Africa and some East European countries. There is more criticism toward the United States in places that have been traditional allies," he said.
The poll most of whose 38,000 respondents were interviewed in person also concluded that the main "foreign-policy criticism [of the United States] is that we act unilaterally, that we contribute to the rich-poor gap, and that we don't do enough to solve global problems," Mr. Kohut said.
"We are the richest kid on the block and everybody likes what we have but also resents us for having it. What we provide is very seductive," he said.
But the "American public is strikingly at odds with other nations about our impact on the world," he said. About "80 percent say it's good that American ideas are spread around the world."
Although the Bush administration has been repeatedly accused of being isolationist, Mrs. Albright said it seems "the world is trying to isolate us. We are just out of step with the rest of the world."
"I did say we are indispensable and I fully believe it but I never said alone," she added.
The Pew survey is just the latest in a series of polls to examine how the United States is viewed after the September 11 attacks last year and in light of the subsequent war on terrorism.
In September, a survey of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and the German Marshall Fund of the United States found that while Americans and Europeans have similar views on terrorism and the use of force to defeat it, a majority in Europe thinks U.S. foreign policy contributed to the attacks against the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon and the jetliner that crashed in rural Pennsylvania.
A report by a Council on Foreign Relations task force this autumn concluded that "America has a serious image problem," citing a Gallup poll conducted in nine Muslim countries and a similar Zogby International poll in 10 countries.
"Perceptions of the United States are far from monolithic," Peter G. Peterson, council chairman and former secretary of commerce in the Nixon administration, wrote in the journal Foreign Affairs. "But there is little doubt that stereotypes of Americans as arrogant, self-indulgent, hypocritical, inattentive, unwilling and unable to engage in cross-cultural dialogue are pervasive and deeply rooted."
Stereotypes aside, Mrs. Albright said there is a clear trend in the world: "The new democracies and the developing countries like us," while Western Europeans, as the Pew survey indicates, do not approve of the American leadership style.
In a series of interviews this fall, leaders in Eastern Europe shared Mrs. Albright's view. In fact, to avoid seeming to be pushed around by Washington, many of them have taken pains to craft careful explanations for their policies.
"After World War II, Western Europe was much more pro-American because it needed reconstruction," said Romanian President Ion Iliescu. "The same happened in Eastern Europe after the Cold War."
Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus, who spent most of his life as a refugee in the United States, is a passionate defender of American foreign policy.
"How can the United States be accused of selfishness when it's spending so much money for various causes around the world?" he asked.
But "the image of America has changed enormously among South Koreans since September 11," a wire service reporter there said in an interview in Seoul this summer. "Most people now see the United States as an angry and mighty giant who doesn't care what others including friends think or need."
Some veteran hands in Korea see such talk as the natural outgrowth of the country's graduation from a client state to a dynamic and vibrant member of the international community.
"What is happening out there is a result of the increasing sophistication, economic success and self-confidence of this country, which have caused it to question some of its old ways, values and relationships," said a senior Western diplomat in Seoul.
Wendy Sherman, who was one of Mrs. Albright's top aides at the State Department, said South Korea "is maturing into a democracy, and doesn't want Daddy around."
Lee Tae-sik, South Korea's deputy foreign minister, said the rising anti-Americanism "comes with the demographic structure" in which two-thirds of the country's citizens are younger than 40. "We used to be rather reticent in domestic politics when we were young. These young people now are very active and outspoken," he said.
Even though global polls provide a picture of world attitudes, some foreign-policy experts are skeptical of them, because in many countries particularly in the Middle East people can hardly speak their mind in public.
Bette Bao Lord, chairman emeritus of Freedom House, an organization promoting democracy, who was on the Council on Foreign Relations task force, gave up on trying to analyze "the root causes of America's problems," noting the council's report was based on polls taken in countries that lack freedom of speech or of the press.
Moreover, she said, "equating America's standing with popularity, however obliquely, makes me flinch."
Lewis Manilow, another task force member and former chairman of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, said the "rich hegemon will usually be unpopular, deservedly or not."
"How important is popularity?" he asked. "Americans want to be loved, but isn't it more important that we tell the world where we stand and follow up with appropriate action, trusting that support will emerge as it did after the Gulf war and after the overthrow of the Taliban?"
Whether or not it wants to be liked, the Bush administration has acknowledged the need to improve the image of the United States abroad, especially in the Muslim world.
The administration has hired an advertising executive, Charlotte Beers, as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy. Under her direction, the State Department is running an aggressive advertising campaign to explain to people in Muslim countries the virtues of American democracy and culture.
But results are yet to be seen, and critics charge that the administration is trying to "sell" America without understanding the cultures of the countries it is targeting.
"The promise of America's public diplomacy has not been realized due to a lack of political will, the absence of an overall strategy, a deficit of trained professionals, cultural constraints, structural shortcomings and a scarcity of resources," wrote Mr. Peterson, the Council on Foreign Relations chairman and Nixon-era commerce secretary.
"Money alone will not solve the problem," he said. "Strong leadership and imaginative thinking, planning and coordination are critical."
Mrs. Albright, who brought the former U.S. Information Agency into the State Department structure in 1999, said it is important that other nations see their interests being taken into consideration by the United States.
"There is something incredible about American power. You feel it as secretary of state," she said. "It's easy to get tempted to roll over people. But we have to understand the need for the United States to be part of the world and not just tell others what to do."

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