WASHINGTON: International attitudes toward America and its policies continue to decline despite the uptick in US public diplomacy efforts following September 11, 2001, according to a survey released this month by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.
According to the Pew Global Attitudes Survey, 20 of the 27 nations polled had a lower opinion of America than they did just two years ago. The sharpest declines occurred in Muslim countries and places of current American conflict, though traditional allies such as Germany and Great Britain showed steep drops as well.
Opinions of American cultural exports such as music and movies remained overwhelmingly favorable. In contrast, most countries expressed dissatisfaction with a perceived influx of American culture.
Harold Pachios, chairman of the US Advisory Commission for Public Diplomacy, said he was not surprised by the results.
"When there's one mega-power in the world, there will be adverse reactions to much of what we do and some of what we are," he said. "That's a natural inclination."
He added that America is addressing the issue forcefully and must continue to do so, but is still paying the price for neglecting overseas opinion throughout the 1990s. "Fourteen months ago, our public-diplomacy apparatus wasn't doing that well," he said, "and 14 months isn't a long time in public diplomacy."
Noting the favorable opinions of US culture and products, Pachios called upon the private sector to play a greater role. "I think that the creative talent in the private sector can be useful in explaining America and its policies to the rest of the world."