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Favorable Views of the U.S. Drop Again in Germany

US imagePew Global Attitudes Project:
Russia and its president also are unpopular in many countries of the world. But criticisms of that nation and its leader are sharpest in Western Europe where many citizens worry about overdependence on the Russian energy supply. For instance, despite sharp declines in favorable views of the U.S. in France and Germany since 2002, Russia's image in those countries is no better. (...)
Favorable views of the U.S. are in single digits in Turkey (9%) and have declined to 15% in Pakistan. Currently, just 30% of Germans have a positive view of the U.S. – down from 42% as recently as two years ago – and favorable ratings inch ever lower in Great Britain and Canada. (...)
While opinions of Americans have fallen in most Western European countries, they remain generally positive. In every Western European country surveyed, far more people express positive opinions of Americans than they do of the U.S.; in Germany, for instance, 63% say they have a positive opinion of Americans compared with just 30% who rate the U.S. positively. In fact, in many countries, the American people get better ratings than does the U.S. generally. Latin America is a consistent exception to this rule. In this region, Americans get about the same ratings as their country; either both are mostly favorable, as in Venezuela and Peru, or both are quite low, as in Argentina.

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Fuchur on :

This chart is the perfect example of how totally immune people can become towards facts and reason - when these collide with their ideology. Can numbers speak any more clearly?? All over the world, US favorability ratings take a considerable dip around 2003. Let's think - what could be the reason for this? Maybe something that happened around 2003? However, the mantra of many "pro-Bush" (for lack of a better word) people has been for years that Bush is not the reason, but that "they have always hated us". And then prepare yourself of an endless barrage of how Germans don't like Americans because they were saved by America in WWII, and that they can finally speak their mind now that the Cold War is over, ... and of course the Compte de Buffon. Nobody in Europe has ever heard of him, but rest assured that sooner or later he'll pop up. He wrote some weird stuff about America and other colonies a few centuries ago, and why this should be of any relevance for today's perception of America is anybody's guess, but hey.

Martin on :

I wonder why US ratings fell more in Germany than in Britain and Italy. Those countries participated in the Iraq war. One would asssume that they would be more angry with the US. Even the French have a better opinion of the US than Germans. Why?

Zyme on :

The former vassal always hates his former master ;) Maybe you can compare it to the popularity of Britain in the USA at the end of the 18th century.

Volker on :

Yeah, we don't like the french and british either. I don't think this is true Zyme, if it were the popularity wouldn't have been as high as it were before 2003.

Zyme on :

Well the Iraq case was the event that seperated our ways for the first time in way evident to everyone. That´s why I came to that conclusion. Of course the media plays its role - but maybe we are just mixing up "Huhn und Ei" here. The population as the audience might simply be fed up by american influence and its way of pursuing its foreign policy. They are happy that we don´t have to follow their orders any more like in the Cold War. Schroeder´s description of "the german way" was the perfect one. Work together with the US and Russia wherever it serves our interests - and make your own way out of it. This is the most promising way of conducting our foreign policy today. And if that is what the population believes, then negative reports about the USA and Russia just serve that understanding. In a sometimes questionable style maybe, but with an efficient one.

Volker on :

Sind wir wieder beim "deutschen Weg" angelangt? Du weißt das dieser Ausdruck ein wenig älter ist als Schröder selbst, oder?

Zyme on :

Das weiß ich. Und wenn ich ehrlich sein soll - also so richtig ehrlich - dann muss ich betonen, dass mir diese Tatsache sch***egal ist. Wenn ichs mir recht überlege, braucht sie im 21. Jahrhundert eigentlich niemanden in unserem Land mehr kümmern. Wenn das größte Land Europas keinen eigenen Weg gehen könnte, wer dann? Insofern ist es durchaus vielversprechend, dass seit dem Hauptstadtumzug nach Berlin Selbstbewusstsein und Durchsetzungswille ihren Weg in unsere Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik wiederfinden. Warum eine solche Entwicklung in ein negatives Licht rücken? Das hat sie nicht verdient. Über die gesamte zweite Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts mussten sich Ost und West unseres Landes nach den Interessen anderer ausrichten. Nun können wir die Dinge endlich wieder selbst in die Hand nehmen. Dumm wären wir, wenn wir die sich eröffnenden Möglichkeiten nicht ergreifen würden.

OliverH on :

As for Italy, it should be noted the influence Berlusconi had on public opinion through his control of both private and public media. At least the latter has changed now, so it will have to be seen what future developments look like.

RayD on :

@ Zyme, I would certainly agree that Iraq triggered a great deal of upset in Germany and elsewhere. I also believe that media and political elites - particularly in Western Europe and Latin America - dramatically escalated, exacerbated and - yes - profited from drumming up negative feelings towards the United States since then. Above all - anytime the United States aggressively exercises power that is not unanimously accepted - it is going to be disliked. This is nothing new - it happened during Vietnam and it happened during the 1980s when Reagan wanted to confront the Soviets. The reason America was so popular in the 1990s is because it rarely found cause or provocation to take aggressive (military) action - and pulled back in Somalia - with the Balkans the only major exception. Basically, when you are the overwhelming superpower - and you flex your muscle without permission from others - that is going to scare and upset people - right or wrong. (And certainly one can argue the right and wrong of Iraq eloquently on both sides.) Additionally - we cannot deny that the end of the Cold War and long-standing resentments are undeniable long-term factors in this. To dismiss them out of hand and blame this all on Iraq and Bush would be a ridiculous oversimplification. You just left a comment that this is highly complex - so why do you boil it down to just Iraq? Above all - when certain influential members of the German media discuss negative attitudes towards the USA - wouldn't it be refreshing if they would finally have the honesty to admit their own major role in stoking the negativity through their own chronic bias and innuendo? When you have America correspondents openly admitting they were asked to selectively report the negative about the USA over and over again (because it sells so well) - is it any surprise that attitudes remain as they are? Finally - like popularity in high school - much of this is somewhat superficial. Many people don't even understand American policy very clearly (and many in German media are doing their best to make sure it stays that way). They just have a vague feeling that Bush is bad, Americans are fat and neglect the environment and militant and most of the stuff they saw in the Michael Moore movies must be true. And since most other people think Bush is evil and America is pretty rotten - it must be true. The upward tick that comes with the next president will essentially be just as superficial - as the actual policies are unlikely to change dramatically - whether a Democrat or Republican is elected. Just some thoughts...

Ray-D on :

BTW - in all fairness - the graph above does not list the numbers from eastern Europe and Africa - all of which were much more positive. On the other hand, the Middle East remains very poor. I also think America's failing diplomatic corps in charge of public diplomacy carries some of the blame. They need to go on television and engage people on the issues - and they just aren't doing it.

Don S on :

I don't find the fact that Germany thinks so lowly of the US surpriosing at all. As near as I can determine German press coverage and editorial comment of the US is less balanced than nearly anywhere else in Europe with the possible exception of Russia. I pointedly exclude France from that; the French are more balanced than the Germans is this respect. Thus the 30% approoval rate holds no power to surprise. Ray D is correct on this point if not on others. There has been a propoganda offensive in Germany against the US and the effects have been showing for a long time. First in Germany but increasingly acorss the Atlantic as well...

David on :

"As near as I can determine German press coverage and editorial comment of the US is less balanced than nearly anywhere else in Europe..." Just curious, which German press publications do you regularly read?

Fuchur on :

Here's one question that I've had for quite a while: Does anybody know how US favorability ratings have developed over time? I mean: How did it affect US popularibility when Reagan wanted to put missiles to Germany? Did the favorability ratings also go down during the "first" Gulf War (Desert Storm)? Did US popularity increase after Reagan's "Tear down this wall!"-speech? And so on... My guess is that there is a strong correlation between "short term" political actions of the US and its favorability ratings. Anybody have a clue where one could find such long term statistics? Or whether they even exist?

Pat Patterson on :

That's something I've been curious about as well but most of the polling companies, Gallup, World Public Opinion and Pew either don't give access to old polls unless they are paid for or theses polls simply don't exist, at least on the internet anymore. I did find one article in a paper published by Nicole Speulda in The Princeton Project on National Security. [url]http://www.wws.princeton.edu/ppns/papers/speulda.pdf[/url] Though generally gloomy in tone she does have many polls from at least 2002 and a few from 2000. But she also mentions an article in Newsweek from 1983, What the World Thinks of America, which seems to indicate negative trends concerning world attitudes toward the US even then. But I have not been able to find that article yet.

Axel on :

Two introductory academic articles whith analyzed time series are: P. Isernia, Anti-Americanism and European Public Opinion, in S. Fabbrini, ed., America Contested. The Limits and Future of American Unilateralism, London, Routledge, 2005. ([url=http://www.gips.unisi.it/circap/file_download/85]PDF[/url]) P. Isernia, Anti-Americanism in Europe during the Cold War, in R. Keohane and P. Katzenstein, eds., The Politics of Anti-Americanism. ([url=http://www.gips.unisi.it/circap/file_download/68]PDF[/url]) If you are generally interested in European surveys, e.g. Eurobarometer, you can go to the homepage of the [url=http://www.gesis.org/en/za/]Central Archive for Empirical Social Research[/url], University Cologne [Zentralarchiv Köln] for further information. Actually, I don't know the United States Information Agency (USIA) which is also mentioned in the articles but it's surely no problem to find its homepage.

Trobert on :

It's amazing how easily great masses of Germans can still be whipped up into feelings of hatred toward an outside group.

OliverH on :

It's amazing what you make out of the text, which says nothing about hatred, nor about anyone whipping anyone up. Though if anyone qualifies for the latter, it would be George W. Bush.

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