Global Attitudes Toward America: War With Iraq Further Divides Global Publics

June 4, 2003

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The Pew Global Attitudes Project released a major report on Global Attitudes Toward America this week, and will hold a meeting on June 4 at the Council on Foreign Relations to discuss the results from two worldwide polls:

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  • A post-war survey conducted in 20 countries plus the Palestinian Authority— 16,000 interviews focusing on the war in Iraq, situation in the Middle East, the United States, President Bush and other world leaders, the United Nations and the transatlantic alliance

     

     

  • A 44-nation survey of 38,000 people exploring attitudes toward Islam and public policy, democracy, globalization, and more

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WAR WITH IRAQ FURTHER DIVIDES GLOBAL PUBLICS

 

  • Public confidence in the United Nations is a major victim of the conflict in Iraq. Positive ratings for the world body have tumbled in nearly every country for which benchmark measures are available

     

     

  • Majorities in five of seven NATO countries surveyed support a more independent relationship with the U.S. on diplomatic and security affairs. The percentage of Americans favoring continued close ties with Western Europe also has fallen.

     

     

  • Since last summer, favorable opinions of the U.S. have slipped in nearly every country for which trend measures are available. Negative views of the U.S. among Muslims, which had been largely limited to countries in the Middle East, have spread to Muslim populations in Indonesia and Nigeria.

     

     

  • A growing percentage of Muslims around the world see serious threats to Islam.

     

     

  • Majorities in seven of eight Muslim populations surveyed express worries that the U.S. might become a military threat to their countries.

     

     

  • Large majorities in the Palestinian Authority, Indonesia and Jordan - and nearly half of those in Morocco and Pakistan - say they have some confidence in Osama bin Laden to "do the right thing regarding world affairs."

     

     

  • There is considerable appetite in the Muslim world for democratic freedoms. Most Muslim populations believe that Western-style democracy can work in their countries. Many of the Muslim publics polled expressed a stronger desire for democratic freedoms than the publics in some nations of Eastern Europe, notably Russia and Bulgaria.

 

LOOKING FORWARD

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  • Most non-Muslim publics believe that Iraqis will be better off now that Saddam Hussein has been removed from power. Even in countries that opposed the war, such as France and Germany, most people believe Iraqis’ lives will improve.

     

     

  • There is limited optimism for a surge of democratic reform in the Middle East. Substantial minorities of Muslims in many countries say the region will become somewhat more democratic, but only in Kuwait do as many as half say the region will become much more democratic.

     

     

  • In 20 of 21 populations surveyed, majorities believe the United States favors Israel over the Palestinians too much. Americans disagree, but the Israelis themselves do not. Nearly half of Israelis think the U.S. favors Israel too much, while 38% say the policy is fair.

     

     

  • Most Muslim populations doubt that a way can be found for the state of Israel to exist so that the needs of the Palestinian people are met. Eight-in-ten Palestinians are pessimistic about co-existence with Israel.

 

WORLD EMBRACES DEMOCRATIC VALUES AND FREE MARKETS

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  • Democratic principles and the free market model have been accepted by people all around the world. People embrace the increased interconnectedness that defines globalization. There is broad agreement that children need to learn English to succeed.

     

     

  • Americans stand out for their strong endorsement of personal freedom and their more measured support the social safety net. People in the U.S. are more likely than most others to say that most people who fail in life have themselves to blame, rather than society.

     

     

  • Globalization is credited for the increasing the availability of food and modern medicines. But globalization not is blamed for increased growing problems such as a scarcity of good jobs and the widening gap between rich and poor.

     

     

  • Large corporations from other countries are viewed favorably in most places. So too are international financial organizations like the World Bank, IMF, and WTO. By contrast, anti-globalization protestors are viewed unfavorably in most countries.

 

GLOBAL GAPS ON SOCIAL ISSUES

 

  • Majorities in most countries say it is necessary to believe in God to be moral. This is the prevailing view in most developing countries - and the U.S. But Canadians and Europeans take the secular view that it is possible to be moral without believing in God.

     

     

  • Acceptance of homosexuality divides the publics of the world in a similar way. People in Africa and the Middle East strongly object to society accepting homosexuality, while there is broad tolerance in Western Europe.

 

Click here for complete poll results.

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