With less than three months to go in the U.S. presidential election, the candidates’ debate over America’s place in the world can only be expected to escalate. Recent public opinion surveys suggest that people outside the United States question American hard power and increasingly embrace U.S. soft power. Whoever is president in 2013, the success abroad of his foreign policy may depend on achieving the right balance in the exercise of American hard and soft power.
Since the beginning of the Arab Spring, analysts, policymakers, and pundits have debated whether democracy will actually take root in the Middle East. One thing, however, is clear: People in Arab nations want democracy, and they don’t just support a vague notion of democracy – they want to live in a country that has specific rights and institutions.
Add faith in the work ethic and in capitalism to the lengthening list of casualties from the Great Recession. Four years after the Lehman Brothers’ fiasco and the ensuing global economic downturn, the idea that effort in a competitive economy can lead to success is seriously questioned in a number of major economies, including Japan, Russia and Greece, especially among those who have suffered the most.
The emerging economies account for an increasing share of the globe’s billionaires. But widespread public attitudes can wield far more influence over an economy than the wealth of a few hundred people. While people polled in the US and Europe are pessimistic about their future prospects, citizens of the emerging economies, especially China and Brazil, are optimistic about their own national economies and personal wealth.
More than a year after the 2011 uprisings, Arab publics are concerned about the economy, but hopeful about democracy.
The economic mood is exceedingly glum around the world. Across the 21 countries surveyed, a median of just 27 percent think their national economy is doing well. Only in China, Germany, Brazil and Turkey do most people report that current national economic conditions are good.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refusal to dig deep to help indebted eurozone countries is commonly explained by two feelings attributed to German voters – an ingrained fear of inflation and a reluctance to bail out those in trouble. But polling suggests the picture is more complex.
More than a year after the first stirrings of the Arab Spring, there continues to be a strong desire for democracy in Arab and other predominantly Muslim nations. A substantial number in key Muslim countries also want a large role for Islam in political life. Meanwhile, few think the U.S. favors democracy in the Middle East.
The declaration of Mohamed Morsi as Egypt’s first freely elected president marks a major milestone for a country that until February 2011 had spent nearly three decades under the authoritarian rule of Hosni Mubarak. At the same time, for significant numbers of Egyptians, Morsi’s relatively narrow victory over former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq has the potential to raise questions about Islam’s role in society.
Following a year of tensions between their country and the United States, Pakistanis continue to hold highly unfavorable views of the U.S. and offer bleak assessments of the relationship between the two nations. And President Obama is held in exceedingly low regard. Additionally, over the last few years, Pakistanis have become less willing to work with the U.S. on efforts to combat extremist groups.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is widely unpopular in neighboring countries and the vast majority of Jordanians, Egyptians, Tunisians and Turks would like to see him step down. Even though many would like to see Assad out of office, there is limited support for tougher international economic sanctions or Arab military intervention, and very little support for Western military action.
As Felipe Calderón’s term as Mexico’s president draws to a close, Mexicans continue to strongly back his policy of deploying the military to combat the country’s powerful drug cartels, despite public unease about the moral cost of the drug war. Meanwhile, a majority of Mexicans say they have a positive opinion of the U.S.
Global approval of President Barack Obama’s international policies has declined significantly since he first took office, while overall confidence in him and attitudes toward the U.S. have slipped modestly as a consequence. In nearly all countries surveyed, there is considerable opposition to a major component of the Obama administration’s anti-terrorism policy: drone strikes.
Seven-in-ten Japanese say their country should reduce its reliance on nuclear energy. Skepticism about nuclear power is coupled with widespread dissatisfaction with the government’s performance: eight-in-ten say the government has done a poor job dealing with the Fukushima crisis and six-in-ten disapprove of how Tokyo has handled the overall recovery from the earthquake and tsunami.
In Europe, there is a crisis of confidence in the economy, in the future, in the benefits of European economic integration, in EU membership, in the euro and in the free market system. The crisis has also exposed sharp differences between some Europeans, especially the Germans and Greeks.
On the eve of the first presidential election of the post-Mubarak era, Egyptians remain hopeful about the future of their country, and they strongly desire both an improved economy and the democratic freedoms they were denied under the previous regime.
A solid majority of Russians see attending protests as an opportunity to speak out about how the government is run, and more than half specifically approve of the mass demonstrations that followed the December 2011 parliamentary vote, which was marred by fraud allegations. Nonetheless, 72% of Russians voice a favorable opinion of Vladimir Putin.
Ahead of negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, a 21-nation survey finds that most publics around the world are broadly opposed to Iran obtaining nuclear weapons, and many support economic sanctions to prevent such an acquisition. Opinion is more divided on whether military intervention should be used, especially among the six E3+3 negotiating partners.
A year after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, a new nationwide survey finds that Egyptians remain upbeat about the course of the nation and prospects for progress. Most Egyptians continue to support democracy, and most also want Islam to play a major role in society.
A year after the death of Osama bin Laden, a new survey of Muslim publics shows al Qaeda is widely unpopular, with majorities expressing negative views of the terrorist group in Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Turkey and Lebanon. Furthermore, before his death in 2011, support for bin Laden himself had waned considerably among Muslims around the world.
U.S. humanitarian aid helped improve America’s image in Japan following the devastating March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. However, recent examples from Indonesia and Pakistan show that the impact of disaster relief on ratings for the U.S. has its limits.
Cell phones are owned by large majorities of people in major countries around the world, and they are used for much more than just phone calls. In particular, texting is widespread in both wealthy nations and the developing world. Social networking is also popular in many nations around the globe.
Overview Two decades after the Soviet Union’s collapse, Russians, Ukrainians, and Lithuanians are unhappy with the direction of their countries and disillusioned with the state of their politics. Enthusiasm for democracy and capitalism has waned considerably over the past 20 years, and most believe the changes that have taken place since 1991 have had a […]
American values differ from those of Western Europeans in many important ways. Most notably, Americans are more individualistic and are less supportive of a strong safety net than are the publics of Spain, Britain, France and Germany. However, Americans are coming closer to Europeans in not seeing their culture as superior to that of other nations.
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, views about American power have changed, as economic issues have trumped security concerns. Today, many see the U.S. as a great power in decline.
Fewer than half of Mexicans say their government is making progress in its campaign against drug cartels. Still, an overwhelming majority continues to endorse the use of the Mexican army to fight drug traffickers, virtually unchanged in recent years.
Americans are considerably more likely than other publics polled to say that parents do not put enough pressure on their children, while China is the only country in which a majority sees parents putting too much pressure on students. More than six-in-ten Americans say that parents do not put enough pressure on their children to do well in school, while about two-thirds of the Chinese public take the opposite position.
Muslim and Western publics continue to largely agree that relations between them are poor, and disagree about who is at fault – Muslims largely blame Westerners, while those in the West generally blame Muslims. However, in both Western and predominantly Muslim nations, there is a shared concern about the threat posed by Islamic extremism.
In the past decade, anti-Americanism grew around the world. In sharp contrast, today America is seen as on its way to losing its status as the dominant global superpower.
The United States continues to receive positive ratings in much of the world, but it faces the new challenge of doubts about its superpower status. Publics around the world increasingly believe that China either will replace or already has replaced the U.S. as the world’s leading superpower.