Sunday, February 25, 2007

Op-Ed: Ferguson, Who Hates America the Most?

"It's not America's enemies who hate the United States most, it's people in countries that are supposed to be America's friends, if not allies."

So writes Niall Ferguson, Harvard history professor, in today's London Sunday Telegraph, my airplane reading on the way home today. "Hatred of America Unites the World," is the op-ed's headline, but what is interesting is, as Ferguson puts it, the question of "who hates Americans the most?" It's not the countries that Americans fear the most, Ferguson writes.

According to a poll by Gallup's Centre for Muslim Studies, 52 per cent of Iranians have an unfavourable view of the United States. But that figure is down from 63 per cent in 2001. And it's significantly lower than the degree of antipathy towards the United States felt in Jordan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Two thirds of Jordanians and Pakistanis have a negative view of the United States and a staggering 79 per cent of Saudis. Sentiment has also turned hostile in Lebanon, where 59 per cent of people now have an unfavourable opinion of the United States, compared with just 41 per cent a year ago. No fewer than 84 per cent of Lebanese Shiites say they have a very unfavourable view of Uncle Sam.

These figures suggest a paradox in the Muslim world. It's not America's enemies who hate the United States most, it's people in countries that are supposed to be America's friends, if not allies.
That's not all. By 2006, the Pew Global Attitudes Project reported that the proportion of British people who had a favorable view of the United States "had fallen to 56 per cent. British respondents to the Pew surveys now give higher favourability ratings to Germany (75 per cent) and Japan (69 per cent) than to the United States - a remarkable transformation in attitudes, given the notorious British tendency to look back both nostalgically and unforgivingly to the Second World War."

Ferguson concludes that "it's lonely at the top." To read more, click here.

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