Chicago: There is widespread global concern that the United States cannot be trusted to act responsibly in the world, according to a multinational poll released here Wednesday.
But while there is broad international frustration with how the United States conducts its foreign policy, few people around the world want the United States to completely back off its role as a global policeman, the poll found.
“There’s clearly a trend in terms of deepening negative attitudes to the US in how it executes foreign policy,” said Christopher Whitney, executive director for studies at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs which helped coordinate the 18-country study.
The United States has long faced criticism internationally for its interventionalist foreign policy, Whitney said.
This survey found that the frustration is broader in scope than previously thought and has deepened in the wake of the war in Iraq.
But mixed with this frustration is an understanding that the US has a significant role to play internationally and should not withdraw completely, Whitney said.
He noted there was not consistent support for closing US military bases overseas and that many respondents felt that their bilateral relationship with the United States was improving.
“It is not a consistent message of ‘we don’t want the US to be involved,’ it’s more nuanced,” Whitney said.
“They just want the US to play a more cooperative role and be a more constructive international player in terms of working through international organizations and listening to allies and friends when they have concerns.”
The most stark results were those showing a lack of trust that the United States would act responsibly and a sense that it had overreached on the global stage.
A majority of respondents in Argentina (84%), Peru (80%), Russia (73%) France (72%), Armenia (58%), Indonesia (64%), China (59%), Thailand (56%), South Korea (53%) and India (52%) and more than a third of those in Australia (40%) and Ukraine (37%) answered “not at all” or “not very much” when asked how much they trusted the US “to act responsibly in the world,” the poll found.
The Philippines and Israel proved the staunchest supporters with 85% and 81% of respondents, respectively, saying they trusted the US either a “great deal” or “somewhat,” followed by Australia at 59% and Poland at 51%.
More than three out of four Americans think their country tends to take on the role of international enforcer more than it should.
Large majorities elsewhere also felt that way: France at 89%, Australia at 80%, China at 77%, Russia at 76%, Peru at 76%, the Palestinian territories at 74%, South Korea at 73%, Indonesia at 68%, Ukraine at 67%, Armenia at 63%, Argentina at 62% and India at 53%.
Only one country surveyed had a majority of respondents who disagreed: the Philippines with 57%. Israeli respondents were split at an even 48%.
The study was conducted in 18 countries — China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Russia, France, Thailand, Ukraine, Poland, Iran, Mexico, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Argentina, Peru, Israel and Armenia — plus the Palestinian territories. Not all questions were asked in each country.
These represent roughly 56% of the world’s population.
The random sample surveys were conducted by telephone and in person from June 2006 to March 2007, with margins of error ranging from 1.5 to 4.0 percentage points.