Sunday, October 14, 2012

America's Image in the World

The World's Policeman

Through my research I found it difficult to find any solid websites that displayed a particular country's view on America as a country, politically, culturally etc. I found one website that compiled evidence and statistics to give a global viewpoint on America from the late 90s to the mid 2000s. - A link to an article that elaborates on how America is viewed by the world from 1999/2000 - 2007. - A link to another article that goes onto to explain how the world views America have increased, but only slightly.

On this site I found both a negative and positive view on how America is perceived to the world. The first article I read was particularly negative in explaining how there was a significant decline in how other countries viewed and favoured America between 1999/2000 and 2006/2007. These figures pretty much started to decline when President Bush decided to go to war in Iraq and continued to drop. 
The picture on the right here shows the information gathered from a global opinion poll. As you can see almost every country shown here shows a depreciated favorability for America. The figures prior to the latter of the two dates show a clear trend in how America has been valued. Even though some say that it's not solely down to the war in Iraq, many try and put the blame elsewhere, however even I can pretty much determine that the view on America has gone down because of the actions taken post 9/11. One important thing to note as well is that the figures taken down here are the lowest recorded figures in history. 
Despite America not being the lowest on the chart in terms of 'who favours who the most' they are further down by a huge margin when compared to the likes of France and Japan. The only countries that are lower than them are North Korea, Iran and Iraq. For me personally, to see statistics like that is worrying. To think how great America is (and it is a great place) when you compare to the likes of North Korea, which is almost entirely secretive when it comes to being publicised, poverty ridden and probably one of the most if not the most controversial country on the planet. 

The biggest problem the world seems to have with America is shown here in this chart and is narrowed down to the way the American government deals with it's problems and other countries. One quote from the article - 'the US does not take the interests of their country into account when making foreign policy decisions' sums up the point pretty concisely. 
75% of 26 different countries disapprove of the war in Iraq - to me this is a pretty standard statistic. I don't think the need for war should ever be taken into consideration unless the circumstances are that of extreme proportion. Many like myself believe that the US military "provokes more conflict that it prevents", which again is a statement that more than 3/4 of the world believes to be true. 69% disapprove with the treatment of Guantanamo Bay detainees, 68% disapprove with how America interacted in the Israeli-Hezbollah war, 61% disapprove of the Iranian nuclear program, 58% disapprove of the way America handles it's own Global Warming and environment policy and 55% disapprove of  North Korea's nuclear program and the American link to that. To clarify as well that the white gap in between the two coloured bars in each category shows the people that are 'on the fence' and couldn't decide on a negative or a positive point of view. It just shows you how many people decided to go for a disapproving or a negative view on how America deals with it's foreign policy. 
The last part of the chart shows the question on what other countries think of the US Military's presence in the Middle East. Again, with the trend you can see that the majority disagree with the cause and believe that the troops in the Middle East are causing more problems than they're solving. 

Policies, not values

As the article has put it, 'The good news?' - Well the good news for America's sake is that the world seems to have a problem with their political policies as opposed to its values. Statistics and polls show that the world is particularly fond of American people - I can't blame them either; I love American people. The views are that it's not the American people to blame but their government, which can bring the question that the government is surely made up of American citizens? But do politicians in American regard themselves the same as the general public anywhere in the world? 

The chart to the right is what is regarded as the 'good news' for America. For the first time in nearly a decade the polls and charts have starting to weigh in their favour, even if it is only by 4% and 6%. 2008 as we know is the year of a new president being put into the White House. For the year prior building up to 2008 Americans have been able to see a new light for their country politically with conference and debates between the Democratic and Republican parties. Could this be the increase in global influence on how America is viewed? To me I see the statistics and the time of a new president not as coincidental as some believe. I think that with the time Obama and McCain had to show the country that they could pull themselves out of this hole that they dug themselves into the country could breathe a sigh of fresh air. The other notion is the whole  'anyone but Bush' movement, which is a grand statement for change - particularly within Obama's presidential campaign as most of the slogans had the word 'Change' or 'Hope' on them. This to me shows that the country wasn't satisfied with the idea that they are the most powerful and the most ridiculed country on earth. 
The way I see America over the last decade or so is that they have come down from a high and they are slowly rebuilding themselves as a country and are fighting their way back into becoming as powerful as they once were and as prominent, without the hatred and criticism from other countries. In the words of Stan Lee - 'With great power comes great responsibility'. 

Here is another interesting link I found to a video of American Studies students from China giving their perspective of American politics. I watched it and was particularly surprised in what I saw. For one the girls in the video spoke rather good English and also their views were very concise and interesting to listen to. As they were students and have studied American politics there is a great spectrum of information from a Chinese perspective and how they compare and contrast both political systems,  pointing out the positive and negatives.

1 comment:

  1. Good but too general. The specific of China would have been more interesting