Serious US image problem abroad
WASHINGTON — Let me warn you, this is all about numbers, which don't usually make for light reading. But this is an especially chilling set of numbers for anyone who cares what the rest of the world thinks of us.
They were compiled by Daniel Yankelovich, an opinion expert who is the chairman and founder of Public Agenda. Here goes:
Only 12 percent of Muslims believe that the United States respects Islamic values. And only 7 percent believe the West understands Muslim culture.
Eleven percent approve of President Bush. The invasion of Iraq deepened anti-American animosity in Arab countries. Thirteen percent of Egyptians, 6 percent of Jordanians, and 3 percent of Saudi Arabians hold a favorable opinion of the United States.
Majorities in 7 out of 8 Muslim countries worry about a military threat from the United States - that includes 74 percent in Indonesia, 72 percent in Nigeria, 72 percent in Pakistan, and 71 percent in Turkey.
Fifty-six percent of people in Muslim nations believe Iraq will be better off since the toppling of Saddam Hussein.
What do our European friends think of us? The post-9/11 perception in Europe is that the US is acting solely in its own interest, without regard for the interests of its allies. Among Germans, 85 percent held this view; French, 80 percent; British, 73 percent; and Italians, 68 percent.
How many of America's traditional friends in Europe join the Muslims in considering the United States a threat to world peace? Eighty-eight percent of Greeks, 63 percent of the Dutch, 55 percent of the British. And a surprisingly low 52 percent of the French.
Professor Yankelovich says that, in some countries, distrust and dislike of the United States have doubled and tripled in the space of a single year.
The Pew Global Attitudes Project, which conducted a great deal of the research, concludes that the war in Iraq has further inflamed the Muslim world and widened the rift with Western Europe.
I think I'll forgo any comment of my own.
• Daniel Schorr is the senior news analyst at National Public Radio.