Lessons from the 2008 Pew Global Attitudes Survey

Source Organization: Pew Research Center

Speaker: Andrew Kohut, David Brooks and Moisés Naím

Venue: National Press Club

06/19/2008 - At a briefing for journalists at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on June 12, 2008, Pew Research Center President Andrew Kohut and two outside commentators, columnist David Brooks and editor Moises Naim, described the major findings from the latest Pew Global Attitudes Survey of 24 nations and discussed their implications for U.S. foreign policy and the global climate of opinion. In the following edited excerpt from the briefing transcript, ellipses have been omitted to improve readability.

Andrew Kohut, President, Pew Research Center and Director, Pew Global Attitudes Project
David Brooks, columnist, The New York Times 
Moises Naim, editor-in-chief, Foreign Policy

ANDREW KOHUT: This is the seventh major survey in the six years that we've been doing this polling. Over the years, we've interviewed nearly 180,000 people in 54 countries. This survey was conducted in 24 countries, with about 25,000 interviews and features attitudes toward the United States, international issues, economic issues, and especially, attitudes toward China, given the run-up to the Beijing Olympics. A subsequent report in this series will deal with opinions in China about issues facing the Chinese people, which will be released in mid-July, and then we will have a small release on issues among Muslim publics scheduled for late July or early August.

But this first release is more in keeping with the general tone of our surveys, dealing with the image of the United States. I guess we've been most famous for chronicling the rise of anti-Americanism in this decade, but for the first time, in this poll, we have some encouraging signs about the image of the United States. While the image of the U.S. remains negative or mixed in most of the nations in this survey, we see some increase in the favorability ratings of the U.S. In fact, in 10 of the 21 countries where trends are available, the favorability ratings of the U.S. have gone up - in Asia, South Korea and Indonesia in particular. My guess is that the South Korean opinion of the U.S. in April, when we surveyed there, is quite a bit different than the South Korean opinion today, but that's just a guess.

To me what's significant is not that we have increases, small increases, in 10 countries; it's that we have any increases whatsoever because, over the course of these years, the numbers have been relentless negative - either flat or down. And I think the fact that there are some increases in favorable opinions means that the climate of opinion of the United States is changing. There is not the consistent relentless negativity that we've seen over the years and that's all owed people in some countries, for particular reasons, to have better views of the United States.

Read the complete transcript Lessons from the 2008 Pew Global Attitudes Survey on the Pew Research Center Web site.

Read the full report Global Economic Gloom -- China and India Notable Exceptions.

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