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Archive for Wednesday, June 4, 2003

World support for U.S. at new low after Iraq war

June 4, 2003

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— The war in Iraq has sent support for the United States to new lows in Muslim countries and significantly damaged the standing of the United Nations in those nations and elsewhere, according to a survey released Tuesday.

The Pew Global Attitudes Project poll also found al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden still gets favorable marks in some Muslim countries, while British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.N. Secretary Kofi Annan instill more confidence than President Bush in non-Muslim countries.

Even in the United States, Blair comes out ahead of Bush.

Asked about their confidence in world leaders to do the right thing, Palestinians ranked bin Laden first. He came in second in Jordan, Morocco and Pakistan.

Blair was the top-rated world leader in the United States with 83 percent saying they have "a lot" or "some" confidence in him to do the right thing, though U.N. Secretary Annan came in first among the British with 72 percent. Canadians and Australians also ranked Blair at the top of world leaders, while Annan finished first in Italy and Spain.

In many countries with generally favorable attitudes about the United States such as Brazil, Russia, Spain, France and Germany only modest percentages have confidence in Bush. A majority expresses confidence in Bush in the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia. Bush led in Israel, with 83 percent expressing confidence in him.

The poll was conducted April 28 to May 15 in 20 countries and among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Some 16,000 interviews in 31 languages were conducted. Margins of error ranged from plus or minus 3 to 4 percentage points.

U.S. foreign policy got generally unfavorable ratings.

Majorities in seven of the eight Muslim countries surveyed said they think their nation will be attacked by the United States.

In Indonesia, Nigeria and Pakistan, more than 70 percent of those questioned had this concern.

Even in Kuwait, where people have a generally favorable view of the United States, 53 percent voice at least some concern that the United States could someday pose a threat, the survey found.

In a previous Pew survey, negative feelings about the United States were confined to the Middle East and Pakistan but now they have expanded to Africa and Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation. There, 83 percent had an unfavorable view of America, compared with 36 percent a year ago.

"Dislike of the United States has really deepened and spread throughout the Muslim world," said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center that oversaw polling.

In another significant finding, the survey said that public confidence in the United Nations is a major victim of the war in Iraq.

The idea that the United Nations is less relevant is shared by people in the United States and Britain as well as in nations that opposed the war, such as France and Germany.

U.S.-French relations are another war casualty. Only 29 percent of Americans surveyed said they have very or somewhat favorable views of France, while twice as many feel negatively. French opinion on Americans ranged from 58 percent very or somewhat favorable to 42 percent somewhat unfavorable to very unfavorable.

There also is widespread disappointment among Muslims that Iraq did not put up more of a fight against the United States and its allies.

Overwhelming majorities in Morocco (93 percent), Jordan (91 percent) and Lebanon (82 percent) said they expected more resistance from Iraqis.

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