The Hearts And Minds Of Turkey

As always, the Pew Center proves an invaluable source of data on world public opinion towards the United States. And the latest figures show that despite the end of the Bush Presidency, the numbers remain dismal in Turkey, a country that Pew notes is among the most pivotal for American foreign policy. The 2009 data shows that only 14% of Turks have a favorable opinion of Americans, a rating that is essentially flat from data of the previous year (and down from over 50% when President Bush first took office). Does this data disprove the conventional wisdom that Obama would enjoy widespread adoration and quickly restore U.S. prestige around the word? Not quite. While the data showed there was practically zero shift in opinions toward America in general, there was a sharp uptick in confidence in the U.S. President (from 2% to 33%). So at least in Turkey, Obama’s popularity has been no magic bullet for American prestige, despite a strong push by the current administration to improve ties that included Obama’s speech to the Turkish Parliament that spoke of his father’s Muslim faith and “the importance of Turkey, not just to the United States, but to the world”.
So what conclusions can be drawn from the lack of improvement in these basement-level opinions toward Americans? How can Obama’s personal popularity and his concerted effort to improve relations be falling so flat? While one argument says that the Turks are smart enough to prefer actions over words or symbolic gestures, another point made by Pew may also be key — Turkey has almost equally dismal views of all world powers. Pew’s survey showed just 22% of Turks having a favorable opinion of the European Union, 16% are favorable toward China and 13% favorable toward Russia (all of which are also down significantly from opinions earlier in the decade). This is clearly a cranky nation at this moment in time — and the current administration may have a long road ahead winning over these hearts and minds.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>