US Cannot Be Trusted to Act Responsibly: Poll

CHICAGO ~ There is widespread global concern that the United States cannot be trusted to act responsibly in the world, according to a multinational poll released here this week.

But while there is broad international frustration with how the United States conducts its foreign policy, few people around the world want the United States to completely back off its role as a global policeman, the poll found.

“There’s clearly a trend in terms of deepening negative attitudes to the US in how it executes foreign policy,” said Christopher Whitney, executive director for studies at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, which helped coordinate the 18-country study.

The United States has long faced criticism internationally for its interventionist foreign policy, Whitney said.

The survey found that the frustration is broader in scope than previously thought and has deepened in the wake of the war in Iraq.

But mixed with this frustration is an understanding that the US has a significant role to play internationally and should not withdraw completely, Whitney said.

He noted there was not consistent support for closing US military bases overseas and that many respondents felt that their bilateral relationship with the United States was improving.

“It is not a consistent message of ‘We don’t want the US to be involved’; it’s more nuanced,” Whitney said.

“They just want the US to play a more cooperative role and be a more constructive international player in terms of working through international organizations and listening to allies and friends when they have concerns.”

The most stark results were those showing a lack of trust that the United States would act responsibly and a sense that it had overreached on the global stage.

A majority of respondents in Argentina (84 percent), Peru (80 percent), Russia (73 percent) France (72 percent), Armenia (58 percent), Indonesia (64 percent), China (59 percent), Thailand (56 percent), South Korea (53 percent) and India (52 percent) and more than a third of those in Australia (40 percent) and Ukraine (37 percent) answered “not at all” or “not very much” when asked how much they trusted the US “to act responsibly in the world,” the poll found.

The Philippines and Israel proved the staunchest supporters with 85 percent and 81 percent of respondents, respectively, saying they trusted the US either a “great deal” or “somewhat,” followed by Australia at 59 percent and Poland at 51 percent.

More than three out of four Americans think their country tends to take on the role of international enforcer more than it should.

Large majorities elsewhere also felt that way: France at 89 percent, Australia at 80 percent, China at 77 percent, Russia at 76 percent, Peru at 76 percent, the Palestinian territories at 74 percent, South Korea at 73 percent, Indonesia at 68 percent, Ukraine at 67 percent, Armenia at 63 percent, Argentina at 62 percent and India at 53 percent.

Only one country surveyed had a majority of respondents who disagreed: the Philippines with 57 percent. Israeli respondents were split at an even 48 percent.

The study was conducted in 18 countries – China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Russia, France, Thailand, Ukraine, Poland, Iran, Mexico, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Argentina, Peru, Israel and Armenia – plus the Palestinian territories. Not all questions were asked in each country.

These represent roughly 56 percent of the world’s population.

The random sample surveys were conducted by telephone and in person from June 2006 to March 2007, with margins of error ranging from 1.5 to 4 percentage points.

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One Response to “US Cannot Be Trusted to Act Responsibly: Poll”

  1. Ben Franklin Says:

    Why the anti-US Sentiment? I think this headline is a little out of proportion with a title adamantly stating “US Cannot Be Trusted to Act Responsibly: Poll”. The truth is, polls can and are twisted to reveal whatever the special interests are of those who conduct them.

    Fact: Only 10 of the 18 countries polled voted over 50% on the question of weather the US was “overreaching” or “lack of trust” [toward the US]

    Fact: Of these 10, many voted just a few percentage points over 50%

    Question: What exactly was the question? Was it that the US was ‘overreaching’ or ‘lack of trust’. If it was overreach, why the misleading title? Further, is “cannot trust” the same thing as “lack of trust”?

    I think choosing a shocker headline title is unnecessary. And to have a double whammy on the front page, what gives?

    Alternate article headline titles:

    Has US Overreached on the Global Stage?
    Trend towards Negative Attitude To US