International opinion regarding the United States has rebounded sharply since the Bush years according to a recent BBC survey.It is especially notable that American “soft power” has increased while Chinese influence has been “in neutral.”
For the first time since the annual poll began in 2005, America’s influence in the world is now seen as more positive than negative.
The improved scores for the US coincided with Barack Obama becoming president, a BBC correspondent notes.
As in 2009, Germany is viewed most favourably while Iran and Pakistan are seen as the most negative influences…
“People around the world today view the United States more positively than at any time since the second Iraq war,” said Doug Miller, chairman of international polling firm GlobeScan, which carried out the poll with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (Pipa) at the University of Maryland.
“While still well below that of countries like Germany and the UK, the global standing of the US is clearly on the rise again.”
Pipa director Steven Kull noted: “After a year, it appears the ‘Obama effect’ is real.
“Its influence on people’s views worldwide, though, is to soften the negative aspects of the United States’ image, while positive aspects are not yet coming into strong focus.”
He added: “While China’s image is stuck in neutral, America has motored past it in the global soft-power competition.”
Of the full list of 28 countries surveyed this year, the US is viewed positively in 19 (20 including the US itself), while six lean negative and two are divided.
Compared with 2009, positive views of the US jumped 21% in Germany, 18 in Russia, 14 in Portugal and 13 in Chile – though Russia and Germany continued to have a negative view of the US overall.
Meanwhile, negative opinions of the US declined by 23% in Spain, 14 in France and 10 in the UK, with the result that all three lean towards a positive view of the country.
Such an improvement in American influence was anticipated by Obama supporters and Andrew Sullivan points out that, “One argument many of us made in favor of the election of Barack Obama was that he would instantly help the US recover from its nadir of global reputation in the Bush-Cheney pre-emptive war-and-torture era.”