The president gets an enthusiastic thumbs up from the world (with the notable exception of the U.S.) for the way he has handled the world economic crisis. Obama's personal popularity remains high, as do favorable views of the U.S. In a striking difference from the Bush years, while many around the world disagree with Obama's foreign policies, the U.S. image has not been significantly dented as a result. Muslim countries, however, continue to hold a negative view of America and most also give Obama unfavorable ratings.
In the U.S. and around the globe, the spread of nuclear weapons is seen as a major threat, but not overwhelmingly so. Those concerned, however, look to the U.S. for leadership.
As international pressure mounts on Iran to halt its nuclear program, Americans and Europeans generally express serious concerns about the potential threat from a nuclear-armed Iran. These fears are somewhat muted in Russia
About six-in-ten Americans feel it is more important to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons with military force than to avoid conflict. However, most also approve of direct negotiations and tougher economic sanctions. The efficacy of diplomacy is questioned, though.
Pakistani public opinion has turned against al Qaeda and the Taliban, and concerns about Islamic extremism are widespread. At the same time, Pakistanis continue to express negative views of the U.S., although there is an openness to improving relations between the two countries.
Recent Pew Global Attitudes surveys show India clearly embracing the economic aspects of globalization. But, even before the Mumbai terrorist attacks, the Indian public was greatly worried about terrorism.
Although views of the U.S. remain negative, and many now worry about the US economy's impact on their nations, the U.S.'s favorable ratings have increased modestly since 2007 in 10 of 21 countries with comparative data. People around the world are following the U.S. election closely - and in most places surveyed, express greater confidence in Obama than in McCain.
Chances for progress at the Middle East conference should be bolstered by the presence of Saudi Arabia, which is viewed as a key ally in much of the Arab world.
Behind the delayed selection of a new president, now scheduled for next week, lie complicated sectarian struggles, many of which do not run along a straight Muslim/Christian fault line.
Despite the efforts of the undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, America's image problems endure as foreign policy, not public diplomacy, is the major determinant of how the world views America.