[Update: the latest – the Globescan Poll of March 2011 – can be found there »]
… is Germany. It’s nice when your country looks good. But does the poll really tell me something substantial? Is it in a country’s national interest to get top marks in terms of global inluence?
One of the three worst-rated countries is Israel.
If a survey about a country’s influence makes sense, it also makes sense to think of the West Bank when thinking of Israel (the recent invasion of Gaza happened after the survey was completed – and is a story different from the West Bank in my view).
And it would probably be beside the point to suggest that people should take the Nazis and the Holocaust into account when judging Germany. The survey asked the interviewees if they saw the countries’ influence as mainly positive or mainly negative. That’s a here-and-now question. But I doubt that the people who were interviewed were all completely up to date with current affairs. Long-term image certainly matters, too.
I’m not trying to sort out what should be collective responsibility (a country’s) and what should be individual responsibility. This post isn’t ambitious. But I believe that I would miss a point if I didn’t ask myself questions about both Germany’s and Israel’s perceived influence on world affairs.
Some years ago, a fellow German told a story about his business trip to an Arab country. He stayed there with his business delegation, and I don’t know what they were discussing, but it was probably no piece of cake. One member from the Arab side probably wanted to say something nice for a better atmosphere – how great Adolf Hitler had been and how great it would have been if Germany could have completed her mission. A member of the German delegation replied that he was not proud of the murder of millions of innocent people.
“You could watch their jaws dropping”, said the man who told the story. I’m not sure if he referred to Arab jaws, German jaws, or both.
Footnote 1: only nine percent of German interviewees viewed Israel’s influence as positive, and 65% see it as negative. Among the European countries where interviews were made (Italy, Russia, France, UK, Spain, Germany), only Spain shows similar views: 10% positive, 71% negative. The details are there – you may have to register before reading.
Footnote 2: Views of China are less positive now, than in 2008. Positive views worldwide went down from 45% in 2008 to 39% in 2009. 11% of Germans view China’s influence positively, vs. 69% negatively. Mostly positive perceptions come from Chile, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, and China itself. Strategically speaking, Chile, Ghana and Nigeria are probably an important public for China – it’s there were the Beijing competes with other global stakeholders.