In the 18 countries previously polled by the BBC, people who said the United States was having a generally positive influence in the world dropped to 29 percent, from 36 percent last year and 40 percent the year before. "I thought it had bottomed out a year ago, but it's gotten worse, and we really are at historic lows," said Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes.David Seaton's News Links
What appears here as a catastrophe, is in fact, good news. This is not a "every cloud has a silver lining" exercise in mental self-abuse, but a simple statement of fact.
The result of this world wide poll taken by the BBC is not so much a failure of US policy or even its "packaging" (public diplomacy) but rather the triumph of the new technologies of communications and the social networks they are forming.
The fact is that very little has changed in the way the USA operates since the 1980s, and even many of the names are the same: Cheney, Rumsfeld, Negroponte, Abrams. It could be argued that much of what the United States did in Central America during the 1980s was as bad or even worse than what America is doing today in Iraq. The USA was even condemned by the World Court for its actions in Nicaragua, and walked out in a huff when the case went against it. Nothing much happened, Noam Chomsky wrote and lectured tirelessly about all of it to a tiny public, to no avail.
What has changed? The way information moves, that's what. Simply put, in those days of the cellphone-video and the blog it's getting harder and harder to get away with that kind of shit any more. This is wonderful news!
And some of the best news in the WP article I'm quoting below, is the following, "Views of U.S. foreign policy are also becoming more negative among U.S. citizens (...) 57 percent said the United States is having a mainly positive influence in the world, down from 63 percent last year and 71 percent two years ago." One of the most exasperating things for any informed person anywhere has always been the naive-smug attitude of the American people, that somehow they were wonderfully benevolent, generous and universally admired for it. With that mind set, nothing was ever going to change for the better.
If Americans ever change their way of looking at the world and their role in it... If that 57 percent goes down to 40 and the 60 percent that would be in doubt was moved to get together to do something about it, we would be looking at a political renaissance, even a re-founding of the Republic that would benefit Americans and the entire world exponentially. The wonderful thing about this is that the technology and the social networks they generate are quintessentially American, deeply rooted in the oldest cultural and political traditions of its history... (any pioneer family would have understood Craigslist in a minute) there is nothing foreign in this technology and its application to politics, it is rather a return to the roots, a return to the best traditions of the country. Cleaning up America's act would be America's true gift to the world, and believe me the world would be forever grateful. DS
Views on U.S. Drop Sharply In Worldwide Opinion Poll - Washington Post
Abstract: Global opinion of U.S. foreign policy has sharply deteriorated in the past two years, according to a BBC poll released on the eve of President Bush's annual State of the Union address.(...) Nearly half of those polled in Europe, Africa, Asia, South America and the Middle East said the United States is now playing a mainly negative role in the world. More than 26,000 people were questioned for the survey. "It's been a horrible slide," said Doug Miller, president of GlobeScan, an international polling company that conducted the BBC survey with the Program on International Policy Attitudes, an affiliate of the University of Maryland. He said views of U.S. policy have steadily declined since the annual poll began two years ago. In the 18 countries previously polled by the BBC, people who said the United States was having a generally positive influence in the world dropped to 29 percent, from 36 percent last year and 40 percent the year before. "I thought it had bottomed out a year ago, but it's gotten worse, and we really are at historic lows," said Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes. Kull attributed much of the problem to a growing perception of "hypocrisy" on the part of the United States in such areas as cooperation with the United Nations and other international bodies, especially involving the use of military force. "The thing that comes up repeatedly is not just anger about Iraq," Kull said, adding that the BBC poll is consistent with numerous other surveys around the world that have measured attitudes toward the United States. "The common theme is hypocrisy. The reaction tends to be: 'You were a champion of a certain set of rules. Now you are breaking your own rules, so you are being hypocritical.' " The BBC survey found that a majority of those polled hold negative views on U.S. policies on a wide range of issues. Sixty-seven percent disapproved of U.S. handling of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Sixty-five percent disliked the U.S. stance on last summer's military conflict between Israel and the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon, 60 percent opposed U.S. policies on Iran's nuclear program, 56 percent opposed Washington's position on global climate change and 54 percent disapproved of U.S. policies toward North Korea. "If this keeps up, it's going to be very difficult for the United States to exercise its moral suasion in the world," Miller said. The survey of 26,381 people was conducted in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Korea, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United States. The polling took place from November to January. Although Prime Minister Tony Blair has been Bush's chief foreign ally in the Iraq war, British views of U.S. policies were particularly negative. Fifty-seven percent of Britons surveyed said the United States plays a mainly negative role in the world; 33 percent said the U.S. influence was mainly positive, down three percentage points from last year. Eighty-one percent of Britons opposed U.S. actions in Iraq, while 72 percent said the U.S. military presence in the Middle East provokes more conflict than it prevents. Just 14 percent of Britons said the United States was a "stabilizing force" in the region.(...) Views of U.S. foreign policy are also becoming more negative among U.S. citizens, the poll found. Of the 1,000 Americans surveyed, 57 percent said the United States is having a mainly positive influence in the world. That is down from 63 percent last year and 71 percent two years ago. READ IT ALL