04 July 2006

4th July

Today is 4th July, American independence day. Happy independence day to you all.

Maybe today would be as good a day as any for the Americans to stop for a moment and take stock of their place in the world. What does the world really think of America?

I saw a piece in the Telegraph online yesterday, a YouGov survey on how the Brits view the Americans.

It seems the majority of Britons think that American culture, and the actions of the present American administration, are making the world a worse place to live in. More than half of those interviewed regard the US as an imperial power bent on world domination by one means or another.

More than three quarters think that George W Bush is a poor, if not terrible world leader and almost as many believe that for all his hot air about promoting democracy in the world, his real aim is to push American values and national interests.

Americans, as individuals, are still held in fairly high regard, but the American 'special' role in the world is not. Britons tend to like Americans "a little" (49 percent) or "a lot" (21 percent) and more than half, 54 percent, feel positive about the US in general.

The core problem seems to be with Americas relations with the rest of the world. And, 69 percent of Brits say their opinion of the US has gone down in recent years. Respondents were asked to assess the impact of the Bush administration beyond the shores of America. Less than 1 quarter of those, just 22 percent, believe that American governments present policies and actions make the world a better place to live in. Three times that proportion, 65 percent, view American actions in the world as detrimental.

American culture generally fared slightly better, with one third approving of the impact of American culture world wide. Even so, 52 percent viewed American influence, on balance, as harmful.

It seems many Americans like to view the US as 'a beacon' in the world, the last best hope the world has. Just 11 percent accepted that view. A massive 77 percent were startled that Americans believe they are setting the world a good example.

George W Bush fairs very poorly in this poll, it seems no other former US president has had such a negative impact on the world stage. 34 percent think he is a "pretty poor" leader, with 43 percent thinking he is "terrible." The majority of Britons view Bush as incompetent and a hypocrite, with little regard for democratic values. 72 percent believe he uses pro-democracy rhetoric as little more than a pretext for pursuing selfish American interests. Even more, 76 percent, take the view that if Bush really does want to promote freedom and democracy, he is going about it in the wrong way. Only 9 percent think Bush is doing a good job.

America is viewed as a society split by class and race. Forget the American dream, one nation united together. 72 percent of britons view American society as unequal. 65 percent view America as "vulgar" whilst 56 percent say it is "uncultured"

73 percent believe America is badly led, 73 percent again view America as ignorant of the outside world and 83 percent belive America doesn't care what the rest of the world thinks.

The last question in the poll:

"If you had the chance, would you go to live in America?"

19 percent said they would, but 67 percent said they preferred to stay where they are or choose another country.

Happy Independence day.

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