The Pew Global Attitudes Project has released their annual survey on world opinions regarding the United States. This annual survey over the past 3 years (the survey has run longer) has sampled anywhere from 6 to 44 nations ranging 5,520 responses to as many as 38,263. This year's survey sampled 16,766 people from 16 nations.
The nations included are predominately from Europe with China and India representing the non-Muslim Asian countries and a collection of Muslim countries from the Middle East to Pakistan and Indonesia.
The responses are an improvement from last year's survey, but not by much. However, there is significant data to be mined in the study.
US diplomacy in South East Asia is paying off. Even with the US sale of F-16s to Pakistan, 71% of Indians had a favorable view of the United States. This is striking given their multi-religious emerging democratic society and bodes well for future relations between to the two countries. Additionally, US support after the December 2004 tsunami left 54% of India's citizens with a more favorable view of the US as well.
The survey also looked at three overall positive attributes of the United States (along with 4 negative traits) and ranked perceptions. 81% of India's population view Americans as "Hardworking" (5th highest view), 86% as "Inventive" (1st of 16) and 58% as "Honest" (2nd of 16).
With respect to the negative attributes, India sees America as significantly less "Greedy" than Americans do at 43% vs. 70%. Only 39% of India sees Americans as "Violent" compared to 49% in the States. For being "Rude," India's people thought Americans rude at 27% compared to domestically at 35%, a rather good outcome, especially considering all of the India call centers that have to deal with frustrated Americans regularly. On "Immorality" the Indian consensus was 36% to 39% in America.
The highest result for a foreign nation believing that US foreign policy is concerned about others was from India with 63% answering in the affirmative compared with only 26% who answered "no".
The only country to name the US as their top rated foreign country to go to "to lead a good life" was India, with 38% of respondents opting for the States, a higher percentage overall than any other destination for any nation's respondents.
Strikingly, Indians and Americans have almost identical views in what influences American foreign policy, ranking them in order for both nations: 1) News Media (40% US - 36% India), 2) Business/Corporations (23% -21%), 3) the Military (7% - 6%), 4) Jews (1% - 2%), 5) Conservative Christians (6% - 5%), 6) Liberals (2% - 2%) and 7) Ordinary Americans (13% - 4%) the largest difference.
On the issue of Iraq, India topped the list as the country that most believed that the world was safer without Saddam, 45% to 26%, ahead of even American views.
On protecting the environment, Indians gave the US its highest ranking from foreign nations.
While most of the responses from the Indians were pro-US, this one statistic stands in sharp contrast. Would the world be better if "Another Rivaled U.S. Military Power"? 81% of Indians said "yes" while only 15% said "no". This could be in large part to a history of US support of Pakistan that has only been further highlighted because of the War on Terror. Additionally, 45% of Indians believe that China becoming a military rival to the US is a positive development. This could be explained from two perspectives, the first being that Indians are comfortable with growing Chinese power in the region. However, I suspect a second perspective is a more realist approach from the Indians. A rising China only increases the value of a strategic US-Indian partnership that would cover economic, military and political areas of mutual support that would further India's strategic and economic importance.
Overall, the study does point to Bush Administration successes in reaching out to India.
In my next part of this series I will address US and French views of each other. They are not what would be expected and point to some positive areas of diplomatic growth in the relationship.