Special Report

Ten Countries That Hate America Most

Disapproval of U.S. leadership had no statistical improvement last year, according to the latest U.S.-Global Leadership Project, a partnership betweenMeridian International Center and Gallup. Of those foreign citizens surveyed by Gallup in 130 countries, 25% disapproved of the job performance of President Obama’s administration.

While citizens around the world are more inclined to think highly of our leadership than not, there are some parts of the world where residents generally have a poor impression of the United States. In seven nations, more than 60% of those surveyed disapproved of the current administration. In Pakistan, that number was nearly 80%. Based on the recent survey, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 countries that hate America the most.

Click here to see the 10 countries that hate America most

Not surprisingly, most of the countries that appear on this list are located in the Middle East, where the United States has long struggled to maintain positive diplomatic relations. Among the leading factors that have complicated our image in the region is the “war on terror,” which includes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and our penetration of Pakistani airspace to assassinate Osama bin Laden. All three of these nations had among the highest levels of disapproval of U.S. leadership.

Our relatively strong diplomatic relationship with Israel has also resulted in strained relationships between the U.S. and these countries. The Palestinian territories, neighboring Lebanon, and Iran, disapprove of U.S.’s foreign policy. Each of these continue to have volatile relationships with Israel as well.

However, not every country that disapproves of U.S. policies is in the Middle East. One that stands out is Greece, where approval has fallen dramatically over the past five years, coinciding with the country’s economic tailspin.

In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., deputy director of Gallup’s world poll, Jon Clifton, explained why Greece’s negative perception of the United States might be so bad. According to Clifton, the country had one the worst levels of negative emotions overall. “It makes you wonder if that creeps into their views of overall global leadership,” Clifton said, “because things are so tough in Greece right now.”

This trend is not confined to Greece. All of the countries with the highest disapproval of the U.S. government suffer from poor economic conditions. Most have high levels of poverty and, according to a review of Gallup polls, they also have among the worst levels of economic and social well-being in the world. They have high levels of political instability and, in many cases, high levels of terrorism as well.

It is the poor economic and social conditions in these countries themselves that may contribute to the low approval of American leadership, says Meridian International Center’s president and CEO, former U.N. Ambassador for Special Political Affairs Stuart Holliday. The United States, a symbol of privileged first-world free-market capitalism, is often used as a scapegoat by the leaders of developing nations to “deflect attention away from their own challenges.” “There is a perception,” Holliday added, “that the United States could fix these problems if they wanted to.”

To determine the countries that hate America most, 24/7 Wall St. relied data from The U.S.-Global Leadership Project, a partnership between Gallup and the Meridian International Center. Gallup also provided data from a number of other indices it produced through polling in 2011. Additional economic information came from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and data are for the most recently available year. IMF figures on GDP per capita are given at purchasing-power-parity in order to show real differences in wealth. Life expectancy comes from the World Bank and is for the most recently available year.

These are the 10 countries that hate America the most.

10. Serbia
> Pct. disapprove of U.S. leadership: 57% (tied for 9th highest)
> GDP per capita: $10,409
> Life expectancy: 73.9 years

Serbia is one of the countries that were once part of former Yugoslavia. Just over five years ago, when Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, the United States was among the first major countries to recognize it. This angered many Serbians, leading to the withdrawal of the Serbian ambassador from the U.S. While the Yugoslav wars created significant discord and violence in the region, in recent years matters have improved. So much so that in March, Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic claimed that Serbs had been misled in believing that Kosovo should be a part of Serbia. With the possible growing acceptance of Kosovo’s independence, approval for U.S. leadership also has risen. Some 20% of Serbs approved of U.S. leadership in 2012, up from just 8% in 2011, when the nation was ranked as one of the worst on Gallup’s financial well-being index. According to Jon Clifton of Gallup, this was at least partly due to U.S. support for Serbia’s European Union membership.

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9. Greece
> Pct. disapprove of U.S. leadership: 57% (tied for 9th highest)
> GDP per capita: $26,258
> Life expectancy: 80.4 years

At 163.3% of gross domestic product, Greece had more government debt than any other country in the world other than Japan, according to the IMF. Since the onset of the Greek debt crisis, the country’s approval of American leadership has declined rapidly. From 2009 to 2012, as the crisis deepened, the percentage of residents surveyed by Gallup who approved of U.S. leadership declined from 41% to 24%. Many Greeks are also critical of Germany and its chancellor, Angela Merkel, frequently viewed in Greece as representing austerity and international intervention in Greek affairs. The nation ranked as the 11th most corrupt nation on Gallup’s corruption index, as well as second-lowest on Gallup’s financial well-being index, in 2011.

8. Yemen
> Pct. disapprove of U.S. leadership: 59%
> GDP per capita: $2,307
> Life expectancy: 65.5 years

Just 18% of Yemenis surveyed approved of the U.S. leadership, while 59% disapproved of the leadership. Throughout President Obama’s administration, Yemenis’ approval of U.S. leadership has remained below 20%. Relations between the United States and Yemen has been volatile in recent years. They became notably tense in 2008 when rioters attacked the U.S. embassy. In 2012, protesters once again stormed the U.S. embassy compound in Yemen’s capital Sana’a. Four protesters were killed in the process. As Yemen has worked to combat terrorism in its country, officials argue that the United States has not been helping government forces fight opponents.

7. Iraq
> Pct. disapprove of U.S. leadership: 60%
> GDP per capita: $4,225
> Life expectancy: 68.5 years

After peaking at 36% in 2010, the percentage of Iraqis approving of U.S. leadership fell to a recent low of 22%. From March 2003, when American soldiers first entered Iraq and ousted Saddam Hussein, through December 2011, the U.S. had a significant military presence in the country. According to a recent Gallup poll, 42% of Iraqis surveyed stated security had improved since the U.S. withdrawal. However, nearly 46% of those surveyed said corruption had gotten worse in that time. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Iraq also ranked as one of the nations with the highest access to small arms and light weapons. The nation was ranked among the worst on Gallup’s social and financial well-being indices in 2011.

6. Iran
> Pct. disapprove of U.S. leadership: 61%
> GDP per capita: $13,184
> Life expectancy: 72.8 years

As many as 61% of Iranians have a negative view of U.S. leadership, while just 12% have a positive view. Although the approval percentage is one of the lowest in the world, it is a slight improvement from 2011, when only 9% of Iranians indicated support of U.S. leadership. The United States has not had a diplomatic presence in Iran since the hostage crisis that followed the country’s Islamic Revolution of the late 1970s. The U.S. State Department also advises citizens to be weary of traveling there. The travel warning notes that Americans have been subject to harassment and arrest while in Iran. Much of the current tension between U.S. and Iranian officials is over Iran’s development of nuclear energy. While Iran argues that its development is intended for peaceful purposes, the United States is concerned the country is trying to develop a nuclear weapon.

5. Egypt
> Pct. disapprove of U.S. leadership: 62%
> GDP per capita: $6,455
> Life expectancy: 73.2 years

Since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, tension between Egypt and the United States has risen. In December of 2011, Egyptian forces raided the offices of 17 nongovernmental organizations, including three U.S.-based agencies working to promote fair elections overseas. Western countries such as the U.S. argued that these crackdowns were meant to stifle the emerging democracy in the country. Since President Obama took office, Egyptian support of U.S. leadership has slowly eroded, as Egyptians increasingly oppose economic aid and believe the U.S. has encroached on its domestic affairs. In 2009, 31% of Egyptians supported the U.S. leadership, but by 2010 and 2011, only 19% did. Still, this is a marked improvement from the end of President Bush’s tenure, when support was at just 6%.

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4. Lebanon
> Pct. disapprove of U.S. leadership: 64%
> GDP per capita: $15,523
> Life expectancy: 72.6 years

Lebanon lies in an especially volatile part of the Middle East, bordering both Syria and Israel. Syrian interests often have influenced Lebanese domestic and foreign policies. In addition, the Syrian military had a presence in the country from 1976 until 2005. Most recently, attacks orchestrated by Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based militia and political party designated by the Department of State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, led to a brief military conflict with Israel in 2006. The country was rated as “high” by the Economist Intelligence Unit for both the ease of access to weapons and for its level of internal conflict. The nation’s government also was highly indebted as of 2011, when net general government debt was equal to more than 131% of GDP, according to the IMF.

3. Algeria
> Pct. disapprove of U.S. leadership: 67%
> GDP per capita: $7,325
> Life expectancy: 73.1 years

About two-thirds of Algerians had a negative view of U.S. leadership, while just 30% of the country approved of its leadership. Support for U.S. leadership has been up and down within the past five years. Current support is higher than the low of 25% in 2008. However, support was at 45% back in 2009. American citizens in Algeria have been subject to violence. Three Americans were killed after terrorists seized an Algerian gas plant and held the workers hostage. A total of 38 workers from multiple countries were killed in the attack.

2. Palestinian Territories
> Pct. disapprove of U.S. leadership: 77%
> GDP per capita: n/a
> Life expectancy: n/a

Palestinians have long had hostile views toward Americans due to the U.S.’s diplomatic relationship with Israel. In late 2012, the U.N. passed a resolution recognizing Palestine as a nonmember observer state. The United States voted against the resolution, along with eight other states, including Israel. After the vote, members of Congress and the American Israel Public Affairs Commission called for the closure of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s U.S. headquarters in Washington. While President Obama has referred to his commitment to the two-state solution, many accuse the U.S. of failing to exert more influence in his first term. The president will be visiting Israel and the Palestinian territories later this month.

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1. Pakistan
> Pct. disapprove of U.S. leadership: 79%
> GDP per capita: $2,786
> Life expectancy: 65.2 years

Pakistan’s disapproval of U.S. leadership rose to 79% of all Gallup respondents in 2012, a 30 percentage point increase from the year before. According to the polling agency, this was due to a combination of American drone strikes and the online release of an anti-Islam film made in the United States. Diplomatic relations were tested in 2011 when the U.S. raided a house near Pakistan’s top military academy to find and kill Osama bin Laden. Pakistan had long claimed bin Laden was not in the country. In 2010, Pakistan was one of five nations with the worst rating on the political terror scale, which measures both political violence and terror within the country. The nation also was among the lowest ranked on Gallup’s social well-being index for 2011.

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