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Tête-à-Tête

Presidents Bush and Putin are set to meet this Sunday at the former’s family estate in Kennebunkport, Maine. Bush’s camp has already announced that it has low expectations for the meeting especially on such issues as cooperation on missile defense and Kosovo independence. “I would caution against expecting grand new announcements,” cautioned White House press secretary Tony Snow. “This is, in fact, an opportunity for two leaders to talk honestly and candidly with one another.”

It appears that the global public feels the same. In anticipation for the summit, Pew Research Center did an extensive poll on global attitudes toward each president and other global powers. As the report states:

 

A 47-nation survey finds global public opinion increasingly wary of the world’s dominant nations and disapproving of their leaders. Anti-Americanism is extensive, as it has been for the past five years. At the same time, the image of China has slipped significantly among the publics of other major nations. Opinion about Russia is mixed, but confidence in its president, Vladimir Putin, has declined sharply. In fact, the Russian leader’s negatives have soared to the point that they mirror the nearly worldwide lack of confidence in George W. Bush.

Disapproval for Bush results from the America’s Iraq War, the War on Terror and its violation of human rights and use of torture. “Favorable ratings of America are lower in 26 of 33 countries for which trends are available,” the survey reports. Approval of the US is highest in West Africa and lowest in the Islamic countries. Displeasure with Putin is significantly strong in Western Europe where dependence on Russian energy has increased. Many Europeans feel that they are held hostage to Russia’s willingness to use energy as a weapon of foreign policy.

When looking at each president’s respective countries, the results are telling. In the States, 45% of Americans have a confidence in Bush’s leadership and 30% have similar views of Putin. In Russia, 18% have confidence in Bush, while Putin garners an overwhelming 84% of his compatriots’ confidence. Putin maybe disliked the world over, but he is loved in Russia.

While Bush and Putin are unpopular, the study states that this hasn’t translated in support for nations that may serve as countervailing forces. Leaders in China, Iran and Venezuela all remain similarly unpopular.

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