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Blair Mission Starts In Toughest Climate Of Opinion

  • June 28th, 2007
  • Posted by 7thmin

tony-blair-12-06-site.jpgIt was confirmed Tony Blair would become the representative of the Quartet international group set up to help advance a Middle East peace process, on the day of his resignation as British Prime Minister (27.6.07).

On the same day a leading United States-based opinion survey reported growing dissatisfaction around the world with the two major powers involved, the USA and Russia.

Those two powers are in the Quartet group with the European Union and the United Nations organisation; its mandate is to seek a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians; and its difficult task will be made more difficult by deep public scepticism and unease.

Such attitudes have been reported (27.6.07) in the latest study published by the independent Pew Research Centre in Washington (PewResearch.com), testing responses from 45 000 people in 47 countries.

A summary section of the report identified falling regard for President George Bush from the United States and President Vladimir Putin of Russia, along with opposition to American involvement in Iraq and the joint commitment of America and the NATO allies in Afghanistan:

“In the current polls majorities in 25 of the 47 countries surveyed identified expressed positive views of the United states. However America’s image remains abysmal in most Moslem countries in the Middle East and Asia, and continued to decline among the publics in many of America’s oldest allies…

“Global distrust of America’s leadership is reflected in increasing disapproval of the cornerstones of US foreign policy . Not only is there worldwide support for withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, but there is also considerable opposition to US and NATO operations in Afghanistan.

“Western European publics are at best divided about keeping troops there. In nearly every predominantly Moslem country overwhelming majorities want United States and NATO troops withdrawn from Afghanistan as soon as possible.”

Opposition to the Western commitment in Iraq was running at 56% in the United States itself. In Europe it ranged from 50% in the United Kingdom and 54% in Poland, to 78% in France, while among Moslem countries it was 76% in Pakistan and 84% in both Egypt and Indonesia.

In the unease expressed about the major powers, favourable attitudes towards the United States were down by 25% in Pakistan and 9 % in Turkey. The growing economic and political power of China, also, was causing some worry with a weak showing of positive attitudes, notably in Europe: Spain 39%, Germany 34% and France 47%.

Europe’s position is a major factor in the campaign to garner support for the Western war and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, where there have been disagreements among the allies, Britain and the United States pressing other European powers to contribute more militarily.

(Australian forces are engaged in Afghanistan under the NATO command structure, but Australia is not included in this Pew Centre survey).

European attitudes also are a leading factor in the negative image of Vladimir Putin mostly connected with worries about energy supplies from Russia.

Percentages of respondents expressing confidence in the world leaders:

Bush

USA 45

Italy 30

Canada 28′

UK 24

Germany 19

France 14

Spain 7

Russia 18

Putin

USA 30

Italy 26

Canada 36

UK 37

Germany 32

France 19

Spain 7

Russia 84

President Bush does not enjoy the same support at home as his Russian opposite number; another Pew survey has given him a 29% approval rating among Americans.

A footnote on the international study:

Climate Change concerns are reflected in higher figures from people expressing worry about pollution and the environment.

Once again the figures are high for Europe, where in the United Kingdom over five years the worry factor has gone up from 30 to 41%, France 27 to 52% or Germany 28 to 44%.

It is similar away from Europe, in India moving from 32 to 50%, in Japan from 54 to 70%, in Russia moving from 40 to 42%, and in China edging ahead from an already-high level of concern, from 69 to 70%.

Reference: Pew Centre home page http://pewglobal.org/ (28.6.07)

Picture: Tony Blair talking with correspondents at Brussels, December 2006

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