World Opposed to U.S. as Global Cop

WASHINGTON - The world public rejects the U.S. role as a world leader, but still wants the United States to do its share in multilateral efforts and does not support a U.S. withdrawal from international affairs, says a poll released Wednesday.The survey respondents see the United States as an unreliable "world policeman", but views are split on whether the superpower should reduce its overseas military bases.

The people of the United States generally agreed with the rest of the world that their country should not remain the world's pre-eminent leader or global cop, and prefer that it play a more cooperative role in multilateral efforts to address world problems.

The poll, the fourth in a series released by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and since the latter half of 2006, was conducted in China, India, United States, Indonesia, Russia, France, Thailand, Ukraine, Poland, Iran, Mexico, South Korea, Philippines, Australia, Argentina, Peru, Israel, Armenia and the Palestinian territories.

The three previous reports covered attitudes toward humanitarian military intervention, labour and environmental standards in international trade, and global warming. Those surveys found that the international public generally favoured more multilateral efforts to curb genocides and more far-reaching measures to protect labour rights and combat climate change than their governments have supported to date.

Steven Kull, editor of, notes that this report confirms other polls which have shown that world opinion of the United States is bad and getting worse, however this survey more closely examines the way the world public would want to see Washington playing a positive role in the international community.

Although all 15 of the countries polled rejected the idea that, "the U.S. should continue to be the pre-eminent world leader in solving international problems," only Argentina and the Palestinian territories say it "should withdraw from most efforts to solve international problems."

The respondents tend to agree that the US should do "its share in efforts to solve international problems together with other countries" in: South Korea (79 percent), United States (75 percent), France (75 percent), China (68 percent), Israel (62 percent), Peru (61 percent), Mexico (59 percent), Armenia (58 percent), Philippines (55 percent), Ukraine (52 percent), Thailand (47 percent), India (42 percent) and Russia (42 percent).

In a majority of countries -- 13 out of 15 -- publics believe Washington is "playing the role of world policeman more than it should," including France (89 percent), Australia (80 percent), China (77 percent), Russia (76 percent), Peru (76 percent), Palestinian territories (74 percent) and South Korea (73 percent).

Seventy-six percent of those polled in the United States also agree that their country plays too big a role as a global cop, but 57 percent of Filipinos disagreed with the statement, and Israelis were evenly split on the issue.

Majorities think that the United States cannot be trusted to "act responsibly in the world" in: Argentina (84 percent), Peru (80 percent), Russia (73 percent), France (72 percent) and Indonesia (64 percent). But majorities or large percentages in the Philippines (85 percent), Israel (81 percent), Poland (51 percent), and Ukraine (49 percent) say the superpower can be at least "somewhat" trusted to act responsibly.

Although most of the countries involved in the poll had majorities who believe the U.S. was too involved in policing issues of international concern, there were mixed views about whether it should reduce its military presence around the world. Only five out of 12 publics favoured decreasing the number of overseas U.S. military bases: Argentina (75 percent), Palestinian territories (70 percent), France (69 percent), China (63 percent) and Ukraine (62 percent).

Majorities in the Philippines (78 percent), United States (68 percent), Israel (59 percent) and Poland (54 percent) favour maintaining or increasing the current levels of U.S. military bases. Armenia and Thailand lean in favour of maintaining current levels or reducing base locations, while India was divided. No country favoured increases.

The survey clearly shows that the perception of the U.S. role in the world is negative and getting worse, but some publics did have significant numbers who felt relations between their country and the United States are getting better.

Most of the respondents in India (58 percent) and China (53 percent) felt relations were improving, while pluralities agree in Australia (50 percent), Armenia (48 percent), Indonesia (46 percent), and Thailand (37 percent). Majorities or pluralities in Poland (60 percent), South Korea (56 percent), Israel (52 percent), Ukraine (52 percent) and Russia (45 percent) say relations with the U.S. are about the same.

No countries had majorities or pluralities who say relations with the United States are getting worse.

Copyright (c) 2007 IPS-Inter Press Service.

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