- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 3, 2003

A new Pew Research Center survey finds the globe in love with cell phones, the Internet, the English language, democracy, a fast-paced life and other hallmarks of American culture.

Americans didn’t do so bad either.

Even if countries oppose U.S. policies or take issue with its global “image,” 14 out of 21 nations surveyed still hold a positive view of the American people, with Great Britain, Israel, Canada, Italy and Australia our top five admirers.

But “pockets of hostility” persist. In Palestinian areas, 92 percent give Americans an unfavorable rating, followed by Jordan (82 percent), Turkey (68 percent), Pakistan (62 percent) and Brazil (57 percent).

Some countries are convinced that the “rights of Palestinians cannot be taken care of as long as the state of Israel exists.” Ninety percent of those polled in Morocco say Israeli and Palestinian states could not coexist — as did 85 percent in Jordan, 80 percent of Palestinians, 72 percent in Kuwait, 65 percent in Lebanon and 57 percent in Pakistan.

In contrast, 67 percent of Americans say Israeli and Palestinian states could coexist.

Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden still has his fans. Among Palestinians, 71 percent say they have confidence in the terrorist leader — a sentiment shared by 58 percent in Indonesia, 55 percent in Jordan, 49 percent in Morocco and 45 percent in Pakistan.

The survey, which took two years to compile and polled 66,000 people, offers countless details from a complex landscape. Titled “Views of a Changing World,” it was released yesterday and combines research polls taken in 50 countries between midsummer 2001 and May 2003.

Although the war in Iraq caused rifts in Western alliances, its brevity and effectiveness has “modestly improved the image of America,” the survey says.

U.S. approval ratings in Great Britain stood at 48 percent in March; they are now 70 percent. Among the Germans and French, corresponding numbers were 31 percent and 43 percent, and 25 percent and 45 percent, respectively.

Compared to figures in 2000, international approval of the U.S. image had fallen by as many as 60 percentage points in 20 European and Muslim countries polled on the topic. The greatest drop was in Indonesia — from 75 percent to 15 percent — and the smallest drop was in Russia — from 37 percent to 36 percent.

The ratings rose in Nigeria, from 46 percent in 2000 to 61 percent today.

In addition to the broad strokes of the survey, smaller statistics proved telling. The poll revealed that 14 percent of Americans say they have stopped buying French or German products in response to those countries’ opposition to the war in Iraq.

But just 6 percent of Germans and 8 percent of French say they are boycotting American goods.

All the world, apparently, could agree on cell phones. They are most esteemed in Bangladesh and the Ivory Coast, where 96 percent of the respondents say they “like” their cells. They are least popular in Canada, Pakistan and Japan, where the phones are favored by 49 percent of those populations.

The figure stands at 62 percent in the United States.

Elsewhere, there was pronounced admiration of American-style democracy. Most Muslim countries believe it could work within their borders, and they place a “high value” on freedom of speech and press, multiparty systems and equal treatment under law.

Of 17 countries, only Indonesian respondents express reservations about the American system: 41 percent feel it is workable, but 53 percent dismissed democracy as a “Western way.”

In contrast, 83 percent of the Kuwaiti population feel democracy is viable, along with 75 percent of Nigeria, 68 percent of both Jordan and Lebanon, 64 percent of Morocco, 58 percent of Pakistan and 53 percent of Palestinians.

Priorities are different in Eastern Europe. Aside from the Czech Republic, at least six of 10 respondents in Bulgaria, Poland, Russia, the Slovak Republic and Ukraine say a strong economy is more important than a “good” democracy.

But “people almost everywhere like globalization,” the survey notes: 41 of 44 nations surveyed feel that growing trade and business ties are good for the country and its families. Most respondents do not blame globalization for lack of employment or poor working conditions in their country.

They favor exchanges in trade, finance, travel, communications and culture, and “large majorities in every country say children need to learn English to ‘succeed in the world today.’”

But there are also reservations about cultural commingling. Majorities in all countries surveyed agree that “our way of life needs to be protected against foreign influences,” from a high of 89 percent in Turkey to a low of 51 percent in Germany and Great Britain. Two out of three Americans (64 percent) agree with the idea.

The United Nations, in the meantime, has seen better days, according to the survey,

“Public confidence in the United Nations is a major victim of the conflict in Iraq,” the survey says.

The project was directed by Andrew Kohut and included input from, among others, former Secretaries of State Madeleine K. Albright and Henry Kissinger, Queen Noor of Jordan, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Carla Hills, the secretary of housing and urban development during the Reagan administration.

The entire survey can be viewed at Pew Research Center’s Web site at people-press.org.


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