Wednesday, April 18, 2007

U.S. Role in the World--Poll Data

A new international poll backs up points Dimitri Simes is making in the forthcoming issue of The National Interest. In “Priorities, Not Delusions”:

It is beyond doubt that the United States is the most powerful nation of our time and that it enjoys an unparalleled combination of military power, economic might, cultural appeal and strong alliances. This gives America the opportunity to have a huge impact in shaping the international system. But huge is not the same as unlimited or even unchallenged. And there is a profound difference between seeking global hegemony and acting as a global leader. … Just look at the language in media reports about U.S. diplomacy today. The United states frequently “presses” and “pushes” and only rarely “persuades”, much less “accommodates.” Washington is almost never described as a leader that represents the perspectives of its followers (though the United States often takes upon itself the right to speak on behalf of “the international community”).

Now, the Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs and have released their fourth poll on global attitudes toward the United States.

Some of the conclusions, as laid out in their press release:

Majorities in all 15 of the publics polled reject the idea that “the US should continue to be the preeminent world leader in solving international problems.” [TWR editorial note: this includes the respondents from the United States, too—showing that a majority of Americans also reject the “sole superpower” approach.] However in only two of them (Argentina and the Palestinian territories), do majorities say that the United States “should withdraw from most efforts to solve international problems.”

Publics in all of the countries surveyed tend to prefer that the United States pursue a cooperative, multilateral approach by doing “its share in efforts to solve international problems together with other countries.” This is true in South Korea (79%), the United States (75%), France (75%), China (68%), Israel (62%), Peru (61%), Mexico (59%), Armenia (58%), Philippines (55%), Ukraine (52%), Thailand (47%), India (42%) and Russia (42%).

This desire for a reduced American role may flow in part from a lack of confidence that the United States can be trusted to “act responsibly in the world.” This lack of confidence was the most common view in 10 out of 15 countries. Two Latin American countries show the highest numbers expressing this mistrust—Argentina (84%) and Peru (80%)—followed by Russians (73%), the French (72%), and Indonesians (64%). But in four countries, majorities or pluralities say the United States can be at least “somewhat” trusted to act responsibly, led by the Filipinos (85%), Israelis (81%), Poles (51%) and Ukrainians (49%).

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