Is This The End of the American Century?

This site features updates, analysis, discussion and comments related to the theme of my book published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2008 (hardbound) and 2009 (paperbound).

The Book

The End of the American Century documents the interrelated dimensions of American social, economic, political and international decline, marking the end of a period of economic affluence and world dominance that began with World War II. The war on terror and the Iraq War exacerbated American domestic weakness and malaise, and its image and stature in the world community. Dynamic economic and political powers like China and the European Union are steadily challenging and eroding US global influence. This global shift will require substantial adjustments for U.S. citizens and leaders alike.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Global Views of US Improve, But Still Negative

A BBC poll of citizens of 21 countries shows that the global image of the U.S. has improved slightly in the last year, but is still largely negative. Far more countries (12) have predominantly negative views of the U.S. than have predominantly positive views (6). On average, across all countries, positive views of the U.S. have increased over the last year from 35% to 40%, but those are still outweighed by the negative views (43%, down from 47%). Respondents in each country were asked if they felt "the following countries are having a mainly positive or mainly negative influence on the world."

Negative feelings about U.S. influence were particularly strong among America's closest neighbors and allies. In the UK, 45% thought U.S. influence was mostly negative; France, 53%; Mexico 54%; Canada 55%; Spain 56%; and Germany 65%. In a ranking of all the countries in the survey, Germany was viewed as having the most positive influence, whereas the U.S. ranked 10th on the list, just below China.

Another BBC poll of 17 countries showed an overwhelming majority--67%--believing that the election of President Obama "will lead to improved relations between the United States and the rest of the world."

These polls were conducted between November 21, 2008 and February 1, 2009.

The BBC polls confirm that there has been some softening of global views about the U.S., at least partially due to President Obama. But they also reveal the persistence, depth and breadth of animosity to the U.S., and how far the U.S. has to go to recover from the damage to the country's reputation. As I suggested in The End of the American Century, the decline of the U.S. and its reputation was deep-seated, and preceded the Bush administration. George W. Bush made things far worse, but new leadership in D.C.--even a very positive influence like Barack Obama--can not easily or quickly restore America's reputation, or its global leadership.

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