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Perceptions of the US Improve

Pew has released an updated poll on global attitudes towards the US, which finds that the election of President Obama has improved the overall opinion of the world towards the US since the Bush years, in particular in Western Europe. Perhaps most interesting, Kenyans like the US more than we like ourselves, which was actually even more true under Bush than it is today – in 2007 we gave ourselves only an 80% approval rating while the Kenyans viewed us favorably 87% of the time.


While there is a lot of interesting data in the report, the major problem I have with polls on perceptions of the US, is that it creates the impression that overseas publics spend a lot more more time thinking about the US than probably any of them do. For example, in our research into the Arabic blogosphere (see chart below), we found that the US is not a major topic of discussion among Arabic bloggers. Instead, they focus far more often on their own political leaders. Further, the war in Afghanistan, which the Pew report sites as a drag on US opinion, is barely discussed at all in the Arabic blogosphere, and neither is the war in Iraq.


It is also worth pointing out that Pew found decreasing levels of support for extremism in the Muslim world since earlier in the decade.


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