TOPICS > Politics

Survey Shows Growing Doubt About U.S. Policies Abroad

BY Admin  March 16, 2004 at 6:00 PM EDT

Also, according to the survery, more Europeans are starting to believe their countries should have policies independent of the United States.

Great Britain, France and Germany, which all gave high marks for U.S. policies in the summer of 2002, recorded a precipitous drop in how they viewed the United States in March 2003 — the start of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Attitudes rebounded somewhat in May 2003 at the end of major combat, and then dropped again, particularly in Great Britain’s case, the survey found.

In the predominantly Muslim countries of Turkey, Pakistan and Jordan, however, the generally unfavorable view of the United States eased somewhat since May 2003, though the vast majority still viewed American policies in a highly unfavorable way.

Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, said the discontent with U.S. policies in the European countries shows a lack of fence-mending between the two sides.

The more negative European views of the United States suggests they may not be based on a dustup over one policy — Iraq — but an indication of a continuing rift between the United States and Europe, he said.

The research shows there is a general sense in the European nations that when the United States makes policies, it doesn’t take into account the interests of other countries, Kohut said.

There also is a growing sentiment that Western Europe should become more independent of the United States, according to survey-takers in France (75 percent), Germany (63 percent), Turkey (60 percent), and Britain and Russia (56 percent). But 55 percent of those surveyed in the United States said the U.S. partnership with Western Europe should remain as close as it’s been.

A majority of those surveyed expressed support for the U.S.-led war on terrorism, including Russia at 73 percent — nearly as high as the United States at 81 percent. Sixty-three percent of Britons approved, along with 55 percent of Germans. Half of those questioned in France said they favor the war on terror.

The approval rating was far lower in the Muslim countries: Turkey (37 percent), Morocco (28 percent), Pakistan (16 percent) and Jordan (12 percent).

A majority of those surveyed in the region said they believe the true motivations behind the U.S. war on terrorism are to control Mideast oil and to dominate the world, according to the survey. Other reasons cited were to target unfriendly Muslim governments and protect Israel.

Osama bin Laden, the exiled Saudi whose al-Qaida terrorist network took responsibility for the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, enjoyed a favorable rating of 65 percent in Pakistan, 55 percent in Jordan and 45 percent in Morocco. The numbers are much lower in Turkey (11 percent) and in single digits in other countries.

President Bush enjoys a 61 percent favorable rating in the United States, but 39 percent in Britain, 28 percent in Russia, 15 percent in France, 14 percent in Germany, and less in Pakistan, Jordan and Morocco.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s approval rating, meanwhile, soared in the United States at 75 percent, but ranks at 51 percent in Britain, and hovers around 35 percent in France, Germany and Russia.

Most respondents said they felt U.S. and British leaders lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, rather than were misinformed, including 82 percent in France, 69 percent in Germany and Jordan, 66 percent in Turkey, and 61 percent in Russia and Pakistan, compared to 41 percent in Britain and 31 percent in the United States.

As for how long it will take to create a stable government in Iraq, the majority of all polled said it would take more than a year. In Western Europe and Turkey, most said the United Nations should lead the effort rather than the United States. Americans were divided.

The survey was conducted from late February to early March under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International. At least 1,000 adults were polled in the United States, Jordan, Russia, Turkey, Morocco and Pakistan, with an error rate of plus or minus 3.5 percent. At least 500 adults participated in Great Britain, France and Germany with an error rate of plus or minus 5 percent.