WASHINGTON: Worldwide opinion of the US and its foreign policy hit a new low in the year since America began its occupation of Iraq, according to the annual Pew Global Attitudes Survey.
The survey found widespread skepticism of America's stated motives for the war - an effort that some consider to have undermined many global efforts against terrorism. Britain was the only country where a majority of the respondents (68%) felt that the US-led War on Terror was sincere.
"The wounds have not healed among the allied publics since the end of the war, and, in fact, things are a little worse," said Andrew Kohut, the director of the Pew Center. "And there are trends that speak to a more long-term and continuing disconnect between the old allies."
A majority of respondents in Jordan, Morocco, and Turkey said that they believe that suicide bombings in Iraq against Americans and other Westerners were justified.
Among the most severe findings: 76% of Pakistanis believe the US has overreacted to terrorism; 65% of Pakistanis have a favorable view of Osama Bin Laden; and 75% of French respondents support an "independent European Foreign Policy," up from 60% in 2002.
Overall, the poll, conducted in Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, and Turkey, suggests that most foreigners would prefer to see their governments lessen their cooperation with the US. France and Germany showed particularly severe drops in goodwill toward the US.
Charles Dolan, a member of the Council on Public Diplomacy and an SVP with Ketchum Public Affairs, assigned much of the blame to often-shifting - and occasionally conflicting - US rationales for the war in Iraq. "When you put a message out there for something like this, you'd better make sure it's correct," he said. "It's when you get into the backtracking and the 'Oops, we made a mistake' messages that you get in trouble."
The decline in opinion came despite an uptick in US public diplomacy spending and programs abroad since September 11, 2001. Dolan and others in the public diplomacy community, however, have long stressed patience with such efforts, saying they were intended to effect long-term change.
Margaret Tutwiler, former ambassador to Morocco, was brought in as head of public diplomacy and public affairs at the State Department last year to revive the flagging efforts.
Reacting to news of the poll's results, Secretary of State Colin Powell told NBC's Tom Brokaw, "I think we'll close that gap as we move forward. Iraq was a-was a very difficult issue for many nations and for people in many nations, but we did the right thing."