Tuesday, February 7, 2006
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Just how unpopular is Iran?
A major BBC World Service poll exploring how people in 33 countries view various countries found not a single country where a majority has a positive view of Iran’s role in the world (with the exception of Iranians themselves).Here's a link to the full questionnaire and methodology.
Of course, if you look at the table below, the U.S. doesn't have a lot to crow about either:
There is one interesting tidbit from the individual country results -- the U.S. does extraordinarily well among African countries, better than the EU. I have no explanation for why this is true.
UPDATE: Just to clear up one confusion in the comments thread -- Europe did not earn a more favorable rating because Europeans were included in that measure. If you read the methodology document, you'll see that they were excluded from their own rating, just like the USA.posted by Dan on 02.07.06 at 10:30 AM
Did you forget about Bush's AIDS aid program, Daniel?
One would think the EU would have followed that with a bigger one. One would be wrong....posted by: Don Stadler on 02.07.06 at 10:30 AM [permalink]
The two highest polling countries use data which "include country's self-evaluation." Huh?posted by: PD Shaw on 02.07.06 at 10:30 AM [permalink]
(1) No colonial legacy in Africa; and (2) no widespread anti-African immigrant sentiment.posted by: Chuck Smith on 02.07.06 at 10:30 AM [permalink]
My brother spent a few months traveling in Ethiopa and Kenya last year.
The response when he said he was American was almost universally very positive. The reason(s) given was usually that the U.S. always helped when there were problems (e.g. natural disasters, food shortage, etc.).
Some gratitude is pretty gratifying ;> Particularly when our 'empire' gives money out to the foreign countries supposedly suffering under our hegemony as opposed to taxing them. But what do I know, just a confused conservative/republican. I am sure some 'nuance' will be forthcoming.posted by: Harris on 02.07.06 at 10:30 AM [permalink]
US is only appreciated when a country needs help. EU is trying to buy love. EU doesn't have the manpower and logistics to do much in a crisis.
Well, of course "Europe" has the highest number of countries with a positive view of its influence on the world -- it has a multitude of constituent countries, each of which has a vested interest in voting 'yes'.
Although now I wonder what the results would look like if they ran it with the United States divided into various portions -- "the West Coast", "the East Coast", "the Midwest", "the Southwest", "the South", and so on, with each voted on as individual countries as well as the collective "United States".posted by: cwp on 02.07.06 at 10:30 AM [permalink]
One other fascinating thing about that poll: Saudi Arabia and Indonesia gave the US considerably higher ratings than Europe, Canada or Australia gave us! This is NOT, I hope, going to serve as the motivation for diatribes about Those Fiendish Europeans -- I imagine our cultural allies are giving us negative ratings right now precisely because they expect more of us -- but it's kind of encouraging that we are not getting seriously negative ratings from those two Moslem counties.
I wonder, though, how many respondents in Saudi Arabia told the pollsters they approved of us because they suspected that if they didn't say so, they'd get a little knock on their door from the government police -- but note that even in Iran iself, we got only a 65-26 negative rating, which is higher than our ratings in France, Germany, Finland and Mexico! You certainly can't pin THAT element of pro-American response on fear of the government police.)posted by: Bruce Moomaw on 02.07.06 at 10:30 AM [permalink]
Where's Japan's view of the US? I'd expect our rating from them to be slightly positive. And of course, Israel's excluded, so our results are probably better than those yielded by the pollsters' selection bias.
My opinion on the Africans' views:
Re AIDS, the gap between the scale of the Bush admin's support for anti-AIDS efforts and those of the EU is more than two orders of magnitude (and of course this doesn't include the huge and vital presence on the ground of World Vision and other US NGOs, not to mention the efforts of that philanthro-monopolist from Redmond WA).
It also helps that the most visible American in the world today is the African-American woman who heads State. Particularly when the Europeans have yet to feature a single black african citizen (note how absurd the notion of a dual cultural identity, or "african-European," sounds in the European context) of theirs in any position of prominence in government, business or media.
As to some other weird results: surely post-tsunami we should get a positive rating from the Indonesians. And why is the Iranian vote so low? Every visitor there, from Bush-hater Nick Kristof to various European scribes, reports very strong affection for the US. Were this poll's Iranian respondents guaranteed privacy? Or did many hide their real views in order to keep from landing in the crosshairs of the revolutionary guards? If the latter, how many other nations' results are so distorted?
"And of course, Israel's excluded, so our results are probably better than those yielded by the pollsters' selection bias."
Israel's population is a rounding error in the population of some other countries. Perhaps Israel should have been included, but I don't think excluding it would change the results much.
"hostility to France's frequent and arrogant interventions in its puppets' affairs."
Well France's numbers in Africa are pretty good. Slightly below the US, but not bad overall.
On the other hand, I think there are some serious polling issues in the data. This is especially so when polling in India, China etc. where the rural populace is largely excluded from polls.
Consider that Australia has a 29 positive-60 negative for the US, which strikes me as too low.
Also, we see numbers for China and the US in India to be almost equivalent (both positive). That strikes me as simply implausible.
Also, the numbers for the US and Russia in Finland are almost the same (quite negative). Holy Winter War !!
posted by: jon on 02.07.06 at 10:30 AM [permalink]
The Bush legacy...only a nation that many other nations believe is actively seeking nuclear weapons with which to support terrorist activities is viewed more negatively than our own.posted by: Flaime on 02.07.06 at 10:30 AM [permalink]
I stand corrected. The graph *really* does not make that clear, though -- among other things, the entry for the U.S. does have the asterisk indicating the self-evaluation was excluded, while Europe does not.
The countries chosen for polling do seem odd in some cases. As jon says, Israel is a rounding error in the population of, say, China; but by that standard, Finland probably should have been excluded as well. And why so few Eastern European countries?
I'd still like to see the data for different parts of the U.S. It'd be fascinating to see how well people abroad differentiate the regions of the U.S.posted by: cwp on 02.07.06 at 10:30 AM [permalink]
I'd be wiling to bet if Israel were included in the survey it would have finished below Iran.posted by: human growth hormone on 02.07.06 at 10:30 AM [permalink]
It appeared to me that the figures on the bar graph for Europe included the self-appraisal of all of the European countries. When you drill down into the report figures are provided both including and excluding European self-evaluation. Not surprisingly given the methodology, Europe comes in 5 points more positive when self-votes are figured in than without.
This poll seems to be the Eurovision contest of international relations. Or maybe Pop Idol.....posted by: Don Stadler on 02.07.06 at 10:30 AM [permalink]
I do not see here a measure of the scale of the perceived impact of the various countries. That could also lead to some asymmetries, to wit: European actions may be seen as generally o.k., but ineffectual (witness their dealings with Iran), while the U.S. is seen as a strong player, although not always in the self interest of teh polled parties. Thus, Europe gets positive marks (but who cares), while the U.S. takes the hit for being effective.posted by: Wayne on 02.07.06 at 10:30 AM [permalink]
The Bush legacy...only a nation that many other nations believe is actively seeking nuclear weapons with which to support terrorist activities is viewed more negatively than our own.
I doubt this has changed all that much over the past 6 years. We've been the cause of every problem in the world for quite a while now. I guess Israel has been taking some of the load off of us lately though... hmm.
I'd guess the contrast between the US and Europe is because Europe generally doesn't do much that average people know about or experience directly, other than resist the US. So, where people view the US poorly, Europe's resistance to us makes Europe positive by definition.posted by: Justin on 02.07.06 at 10:30 AM [permalink]
I'd still like to see the data for different parts of the U.S. It'd be fascinating to see how well people abroad differentiate the regions of the U.S
Actually, that would only underscore how divergent from reality such opinions are. Contrary to the idiotic "Jesusland" vs "BlueState" meme, most American states are purple, and most of the remainder are quickly becoming more purple as yuppies flee the coasts for affordable housing and job opportunities in the interior. Thanks to California emigres, Arizona's now a purple state, as is Montana; ditto for New Hampshire, which benefits from yuppies and techies fleeing Boston's housing bubble.
And even the red and blue states themselves have large and influential purple areas. The big divide in the US is not regional but exurb-vs suburb-vs-central city. Anyone who's lived in both New York and Dallas knows that there's more racism and homophobia in the boroughs of New York City than in central Dallas. Bensonhurst has race riots; Dallas's elected sheriff is a lesbian mexican-American. New York is shutting down strip joints; Dallas has more strip joints, in both relative and absolute terms, than New York does.
Or compare Boston's racist bastions of Southie and Dorchester with Houston, which has excellent race relations, a thriving high cultural scene and a large and influential gay population.
To finish the analogy, any survey-- by western firms, no less-- of nations as vast and diverse of India and China is almost certain to be unreliable, if not complete bullshit. As is the notion of excluding Japan. Then again, on relfection it does make sense to include that major nation, Finland, while excluding obscure, irrelevant Israel....
/sarcasmposted by: thibaud on 02.07.06 at 10:30 AM [permalink]
Something that may sound rather simplistic, but my fiancee pointed out that the United States is like the Number One civilization in Civilization III (most impressive military, a culture that permeates nearly every corner of the world, biggest economy). Everyone behind them is jealous and wants to tear them down, just like I want to do when I'm not Number One.
Just an idea, perhaps a bad one, but I still think it warrants stating.posted by: Matthew on 02.07.06 at 10:30 AM [permalink]
"To finish the analogy, any survey-- by western firms, no less-- of nations as vast and diverse of India and China is almost certain to be unreliable, if not complete bullshit."
Did you read the whole article ? The survey was actually done by local firms in borth India and China. Whether that makes it better or worse is not clear.posted by: erg on 02.07.06 at 10:30 AM [permalink]
erg, I stand corrected re India and China. Each time i visited the site, the page explaining the methodology was down.posted by: thibaud on 02.07.06 at 10:30 AM [permalink]
It's strange: Americans are the most popular with the poorest of the poor. That doesn't make sense: they are supposed to be the most exploited.posted by: ivan on 02.07.06 at 10:30 AM [permalink]
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