From Hyperpower to Declining Power: Changing Perceptions of the U.S.

Sep 07, 2011

In the decade since the Sept. 11 attacks, America’s global image has followed a remarkable, if now familiar, trajectory. Initially, there was a global outpouring of sympathy for the United States, but it was short-lived. As the Bush Administration pivoted from Afghanistan to Iraq, and as American anti-terrorism efforts expanded, many around the world turned against the U.S. Widespread anti-Americanism remained a key feature of international public opinion throughout the Bush years, before fading significantly following the election of Barack Obama.

However, at the same time as ratings for the U.S. were waning and waxing, other changes in perceptions of America and its role in the world were also evident. In particular, views about American power have changed over the course of the decade, as economic issues have trumped security concerns. Early in the post-Sept. 11 era, the projection of American military strength led to pervasive fears of an unleashed, and unchecked, hyperpower. More recently, however, the global financial crisis has turned the spotlight to America’s declining economic prowess. Once the fearsome colossus, many now see the financially-strapped U.S. as a great power in decline.

Read the full report, From Hyperpower to Declining Power: Changing Perceptions of the U.S., on the Pew Global Attitudes Project Web site.

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