Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Popularity Contest

Countries rate how much they like each other (hat tips to Drum and Drezner). The United States is doing pretty poorly--but better than Iran! Actually, there is some good news in the report. We're doing well across the board in Africa, with every country giving us at least a plurality of positive sentiment. We also have high approvals in the Phillipenes, Poland, and (most hearteningly) Afghanistan. Even Saudia Arabia splits 38/38 on approval/disapproval.

Unfortunately, there is also a lot of bad news. The thing that outright scares me the most is that Iraqis have higher approvals for Iran (33/44) than they do for us (26/65). That's a sign something is going awry. Also, mitigating Afghanistan's high approvals for us is the fact that they seem to just be cheery people in general. Outside Russia (which is entirely understandable), no country gets lower than 45% approval ratings--Iran gets 47% approval, its highest in the world. And while beating Iran is a plus, we're more unpopular than any other country polled. Also, given that the most popular country is Japan (and "Europe" in general is polled even higher), what does that do to the claim that all these people hate us for our freedom? I mean, I know we have differences on a lot of issues with the Europeans and Japanese, but the fact remains that they are all quite liberal nations, all told, certainly far more so than, say, China or Russia.

One important area to watch is the relative popularity of China versus the US in Africa. China has really made a play to be the go-to superpower there, while the US still has a lot of good will due to its emergency assistance operations, lack of a colonial legacy, and generic position as beacon of democracy. The U.S. has the advantage in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Ghana, while China is ahead in Congo and Senegal. One important thing to remember is that much of China's "support" in the region comes in the form of propping up local strongmen. The US has been known to do that too, of course, but for China it's rapidly approaching a policy. China has also been a key supporter of the Khartoum regime as it continues its grisly genocide, holding off international sanctions and intervention and placing more of the burden on the Africans themselves.

Lots to parse here, and I'm no expert. Still, interesting stuff.

1 comment:

jack said...

I'm glad you didn't forget Poland.