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Poll: Anti-American Sentiment Builds Overseas

A new poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press suggests a significant negative shift in perceptions of the United States among people in 44 nations, including many in the Muslim world.

But as NPR's Vicky O'Hara reports, the poll also exposes many contradictions. Much of the world, for example, believes that Iraq is a threat to Mideast stability, but are suspicious of American motives. Also, "made in America" products such as music, movies and certain well-known brand names are widely accepted throughout the world -- but at the same time, many nations decry the corrupting influence of America on their own cultures.

"Since 2000, favorability ratings for the U.S. have fallen in 19 of the 27 countries where trend benchmarks are available," the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reports. But there is some good news, too: "While criticism of America is on the rise, however, a reserve of goodwill toward the United States still remains... the U.S. and its citizens continue to be rated positively by majorities in 35 of the 42 countries in which the question was asked."

And as America girds for a potential conflict with Iraq, the poll results reveal what's at stake: "True dislike, if not hatred, of America is concentrated in the Muslim nations of the Middle East and in Central Asia, today’s areas of greatest conflict," the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reports.

In a broader assessment of global attitudes, the survey reveals a pervasive pessimism: "As 2002 draws to a close, the world is not a happy place. At a time when trade and technology have linked the world more closely together than ever before, almost all national publics view the fortunes of the world as drifting downward.

"A smaller world, our surveys indicate, is not a happier one."

Read the full results of the poll, and a summary of the poll highlights, by following the link below.

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Vicky O'Hara
Victoria (Vicky) O'Hara is a diplomatic correspondent for NPR. Her coverage of the State Department and foreign policy issues can be heard on the award-winning Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition as well as on NPR's newscasts.