« Protesters burn a U.S. flag in Colombia March 11. (Rodrigo Arangua/AFP/Getty Images)

Wave of Anti-Americanism Sweeping the Globe

Good news first: In India, President Bush’s approval rating exceeds 50 percent. The bad news: Everywhere else in the world—among enemies and allies alike—the majority of people disapprove of the U.S. and its leadership.

Annual polls conducted by the German Marshall Fund, Pew Research Center and bbc World Service show that the United States’ international reputation has declined dramatically since 2001. Not only have countries that already dislike the U.S. become more vitriolic, but also Washington’s staunchest allies now disapprove of U.S. leadership and impact on the world scene.

According to a survey conducted for the bbc in March 2007, only North Korea, Iran and Israel are perceived as having a more negative impact on the world than the United States. In the five-year period from 2002 to 2006, Europe’s desire for U.S. leadership nose-dived from 64 percent to 37 percent.

In Muslim countries listed as U.S. allies, President Bush’s approval rating ranges from 8 to 20 percent. Even in the UK, the number reaches only 30 percent. At the bottom end of the spectrum, Bush’s rating in Spain is just 7 percent. In Turkey, which is considered an important Middle Eastern ally, it is a dismal 3 percent.

According to Forbes, former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski observed that the Statue of Liberty, once the dominant image of the United States abroad, has been supplanted by Guantanamo.

Perhaps worst of all, the wave of anti-Americanism is equally prevalent inside U.S. borders. The U.S. has become a self-loathing nation with little sense of national pride. As bad as U.S. approval ratings are overseas, they are no better at home, with the president’s approval numbers hovering between the mid-20s to low 30s and Congress wallowing in the teens.

Many view the growing anti-Americanism around the world as a protest against President George W. Bush and his administration. There is no real indication, however, that world sentiment toward the U.S. will swing upward after the 2008 presidential election. Even if it does, the effect of anti-U.S. sentiment is already evident. U.S. enemies like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez can and do manipulate a tarnished U.S. image to their own advantage abroad. Forbes observed that “[s]upport is likely to rise within the EU for a foreign policy and a military that are independent of the United States and nato.”

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