Thu, Jun 15, 2006 - Page 6 News List

US image abroad slumps, according to latest research

AFP , WASHINGTON

The Iraq war and the leadership of President George W. Bush helped drag down the global image of the US for the second year straight, according to a study released on Tuesday.

The war and Bush's leadership were the main points provoking negative reactions from people in other countries, especially those in predominantly Muslim nations, according to an annual poll by the Pew Global Attitudes Project.

But the poll also showed a growing convergence of views between the US and the Europeans on issues like Iran's alleged nuclear weapons aspirations and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"There is widespread sentiment -- especially in the West -- that countries that do not have nuclear weapons should be prevented from developing them," Pew noted.

The survey of 17,000 people in 14 nations -- released on the same day Bush made a surprise visit to Baghdad to meet Iraq's new leaders -- shows a growing chasm of opinion between the US and both its western allies and Muslim countries.

"The war in Iraq is a continuing drag on opinions of the US, not only in predominantly Muslim countries but in Europe and Asia as well," Pew said.

In 10 out of 14 countries, a majority of people felt the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq has made the world more dangerous.

While 51 percent of Americans think the world is safer, only 30 percent of Britons agree -- and just 7 percent of Spaniards and eight percent of Chinese. Only in Nigeria and India did more people -- 41 percent in both -- feel safer than not.

Among allies, 56 percent Britons expressed a favorable opinion of the US, nearly the same as last year but down from 70 percent in 2003 and 83 percent in 2000.

China garnered a world-beating 81 percent satisfaction rate among those surveyed with the way things were going in their country.

That compared with 72 percent one year ago and 48 percent in their 2003 poll, Pew said.

Nigeria, came up on the bottom due to public strife, Pew noted, with only 7 percent content and 93 percent negative about the country's situation.

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