- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 23, 2005

International opinion of the United States is slowly recovering from the lows recorded after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, a new poll shows, but most Western nations have a more favorable image of China than America.

Hostility toward America has eased in five Muslim countries surveyed, but majorities in 10 of the 15 nations polled by the Pew Research Center still hold unfavorable views of the United States.

Many of those with an unfavorable view of America cited the Iraq war or said they felt the United States was largely indifferent to the views of other countries, the pollsters reported.

“Anti-Americanism is an entrenched attitude,” said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Global Attitudes Project, which conducted 17,000 interviews in April and May with residents in 16 countries, including the United States.

“The U.S.’s image remains quite negative in much of the Muslim world. But unlike last year there is a little good news for the U.S.”

Predominantly Muslim Indonesia, Jordan and Pakistan all saw sharp increases in favorable perceptions of the United States last year, with Jordan’s rising from 5 percent to 21 percent.

President Bush’s “call for democracy in the Middle East has been meeting with favorable reaction in many countries and is something we need to work on even more,” said former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, who co-chaired the survey with former Missouri Sen. John C. Danforth, at a press conference yesterday.

State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said the Pew results might be skewed in individual countries by local concerns or problems, but that U.S. officials frankly acknowledge the country’s image abroad is a concern.

“With or without a poll, we know we have a public diplomacy challenge and it is a challenge that is not lessening by the day,” Mr. Ereli said.

India, Indonesia and Russia were among the few countries to see a significant improvement in sentiment toward the United States.

In one of the most startling findings, the poll found that in 11 countries — including European allies such as Britain and the Netherlands — more residents had a positive opinion of China than of the United States.

The poll found widespread support for the emergence of a counterweight to America’s military might, but also found Europeans, especially in France and Germany, were wary of China’s rise.

“Europeans may have a better image of China but they aren’t interested in seeing China as a rival power,” Mrs. Albright said.

The poll found muted expectations in Muslim countries for the expansion of democracy in the Middle East. Pluralities in Indonesia and Lebanon were optimistic about the prospects for democracy in the region, Jordanians were divided and Turks and Pakistanis were pessimistic.

“We are on a promising track by attempting to advance the cause of democracy throughout the world and the Middle East, even if we are not always getting proper credit for it,” said Mr. Danforth, a former ambassador to the United Nations.

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