When Americans were asked to name the most important global problems facing the United States, Iraq and terrorism were the two top concerns. Foreign nations' negative image of this country ranked number three. These and other findings, released jointly by Public Agenda and Foreign Affairs magazine, are part of the new Public Agenda Confidence in U.S. Foreign Policy Index.

Facts, Figures & Analysis

The survey also reveals that American thinking about U.S. relations with the Islamic world is a disquieting mix of high anxiety, growing uncertainly about current policy, and virtually no consensus about what else the country might do.

To be issued by Public Agenda regularly, the Index is designed to explore the public's long-term judgments and beliefs about America's role in the world.

This Index does something individual polls don't do - it provides insight into the public mind on the larger issues of international affairs. Foreign Affairs is proud to provide a launching pad for this critical research.

The Index is supported with funding from the Ford Foundation.

Click to read the full report

Highlights from the findings

Thinking about the things that
government mustdo to fight
terrorism,in your opinion,
should the government:

Chart 2: Responses to terrorism

U.S. and the Islamic World: Concern and Confusion

Strong majorities of the public believe the image of the United States is suffering abroad and large majorities are worried about it. Three-quarters say they worry that "the U.S. may be losing the trust and friendship of people in other countries" and that "there may be growing hatred of the U.S. in Muslim countries." In both cases, four in ten say they worry "a lot" about this, compared to the one-quarter who say they don't worry at all. A smaller majority, six in ten, say they're at least somewhat worried accusations of torture against the U.S. will hurt our image.
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Strategic Priorities

Americans place improving the effectiveness of our intelligence operations and tighter controls on immigration at the top of their list of priorities for strengthening our nation's security. Few believe that doing more to help Muslim countries develop economically or building infrastructure projects in developing countries will improve our security a great deal.
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Do you think that improved
communication and dialogue with
the Muslim world will reduce hatred
of the U.S.?

Chart 1: Dialogue with the Muslim world

Specific Dissatisfaction
Currently half the public is dissatisfied with America's current global position - 49% said there were "too many things worrying and disappointing" them about relations with the rest of the world, compared to 40% who said the U.S. is "generally doing the right things." And while people are generally dissatisfied with our position they also give failing grades to many of the specifics of our foreign policy.
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America the Bully?
When asked an open-ended question on how the rest of the world sees the U.S., nearly two-thirds said the rest world has a negative view. Fully one in 10, the largest single group, actually used the words "bully" or "bullying." Yet even as people say it, there's reason to believe they don't accept it. A number of respondents and focus group participants said, in some form, that "the world may see us this way, but we're really not."
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Providing Aid: B Protecting American Jobs: D
Fully 83% give the United States an "A" or "B" grade for helping other countries during natural disasters and half give the country similar grades for fostering democracy overseas. Half of Americans give the United States a "D" or "F" grade on protecting U.S. jobs from going overseas.
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Immigration as Major Security Concern
There is deep dissatisfaction over illegal immigration, much of it driven by concern about terrorism. Three-quarters of the public give the U.S. a "C" grade or worse in "protecting our borders from illegal immigration," with nearly one-quarter giving a "F". Roughly as many say it worries them that "it may be too easy for illegal immigrants to come into the country, with four in ten saying it worries them a lot.
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