America's Image in the World.
For many decades, America is known as the most powerful and rich country in the world. It's known for its freedom, its democracy, its influence on other countries, its international universities, its high values and for its charity. However, America's portrayal through others lenses around the world is varying from positive views to negative ones. America's positive reputation was more popular many years ago. After September tragedy, the position has changed. According to recent surveys, it becomes bad and is still worsening. Why do the American image and reputation recently become bad? Do people around the world view America as they view American people and values? How are both viewed? And what are the motives behind America's view whether it is positive or negative?
The positive image of America is built on its good values such as justice, democracy, and freedom. The American people image is much better than the America United States. The BBC poll showed that Indians, Japanese, and Russian view American people positively. Muslims feelings are mixed but still more positive than America itself. Some American aspects are also admired such as the technological and scientific evolution, the diversity of races and cultures of the American nation, and American media. "American movies and television programs get mixed reviews while American science and technology engender substantial respect around the world." (Kull, 2007)
After September attacks, the American democracy is discredited by the failure to achieve values that America has promoted for decades. A poll, which was conducted for BBC in eighteen countries to know peoples' views of America's influence in the last three years, showed that positive views of America across the eighteen countries have slipped from forty percent in 2005 to thirty six percent in 2006 to 29 percent in 2007. Negative views have risen from forty six percent in 2005 to fifty two percent in 2007.
Many special attitudes that associated with the American foreign policy helped to destroy the positive image and aroused strong resentment. For example, the American Military presence in the Middle East without an approval and dealing way with detainees in Guantanamo and other prisons caused more problems to America and viewed it less democratic. The global economic crisis also undermined the confidence in the American economical system. Furthermore, the way America deals with many international issues gets a substantial disdain in the region. The majority rate in the BBC poll disapproves how America interacts with six current issues: Iraq War, treatment of Guantanamo detainees, the Israeli Hezbollah war, Iran's nuclear program, global warming, and North Korea's nuclear program. In another question about American military presence in the Middle East, only sixteen percent view it as "a stabilizing force" while sixty nine percent believe that it arouses more conflicts in the region.
It is obviously that the main motive that shapes negative perceptions of America is American foreign policy. According to BBC poll, people around the world related their negative feelings toward America to its foreign policies not its values. In Arabian country, people are more specific about the primary reason of their hatred toward America. They see that America is supporting Israel though it continuously violates all the international laws. "In the region, much of the resentment of the United States is based on the Arab-Israeli conflict, which has been a visible sore point in the U.S-Saudi relationship since the collapse of Arab-Israeli peace negotiations," said Telhami in his book America in the Middle East. A poll conducted in fifteen cities in Saudi Arabia by Saudi Arabian newspaper Al-Watan revealed that seventy five percent of polled people referred the cause of their hatred to American influence in Arab-Israeli conflict in Palestine while 5 percent only referred their hatred to the consequences of September attacks. (Asila, 2007)
So, what is the world seeking from America? Steven Kull answered, "What the world is looking for is reassurance that the US is constrained by the rules that the US itself has promoted; that it is still committed to the rule of international law, to limits on the use of military force, to respect for human rights, and to fairness in the world economic system."Works Cited
Asila, Sobhi. "Confusing Hearts and minds." Arab Insight 1.2 (Fall 2007): 30-13. PDF file.
Kull, Steven. America's Image in the World, March 6, 2007. World Public Opinion. Program on International Policy Attitudes University of Maryland.
Sengul. Zeunep. "Kitap Tahlilleri" Rev. of The Stakes: America in the Middle East, by Shilby Telhami, Jan. 2004. London, Westview Press.