WASHINGTON: The US is currently enjoying its most favorable global image in years, according to data collected by the Pew Research Center (PRC). The Pew Global Attitudes Project, chronicling the opinions of individuals from 57 countries over the past eight years, was presented to the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs on March 4.
PRC president Andrew Kohut addressed the House's Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight regarding the findings.
In 2008, PRC found 42% of French natives had a positive view of the US, a figure that rose to 75% in 2009. Similarly, in that same period Britain's positive opinion of the US rose from 53% to 69%; Germany's rose from 31% to 64%; and Spain's rose from 33% to 58%.
Kohut said one reason for the jump was the election of President Barack Obama in November 2008, but cautions that the numbers will likely rebound to a more moderate level in the near future.
“We monitor the US' image on a regular basis, but there was quite a bit of surprise on how greatly the image improved here,” Kohut said. “Expectations were pretty high following Obama's election, and that is likely a contributing factor. But because expectations were so high the numbers are fragile, and they aren't likely to stay stable.”
In the Middle East, favorability was less fervent, though there still was a demonstrable improvement over last year. Unsurprisingly, Israel led the region in regard for the US at 71%, with Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine trailing at 55%, 25%, and 15% respectively. In Asia, India had the highest opinion of the US at 76% favorable, with neighboring Pakistan drawing the lowest rating at 16%.
Meanwhile, 88% of US residents have a positive outlook on their own country, a number that has risen steadily since 2006, when that figure hit 76%.
“While opinion is on the rise, a trend we noticed was that where positive sentiment is related to Obama it's related not to his policies but to his own personal ability and confidence,” Kohut said. “It will be interesting to see where these numbers are one or two years from now, to see if that positivity remains."