Global poll places US near Russia and Saudi Arabia in ‘using influence for bad’

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The US is seen as nearing Russia and Saudi Arabia as mostly using its influence for bad purposes, a poll found (Nick Potts/PA)

America has ranked near Saudi Arabia and Russia in an international poll of countries which use their global influence for bad purposes.

The Ipsos Mori study for King’s College London of 17,000 people in 24 countries found Iran is most likely to be seen as using its influence for bad at 31%.

This is followed by Russia and Saudi Arabia both on 25%, Israel on 24% and the US on 22%.

One in 10 respondents said Britain mostly uses its influence to bad ends, while 27% believe it mostly uses it for good.

Countries seen as most likely to use their influence for good are Germany (32%) and Canada (37%), as well as the UN (35%).

The poll also found nearly four in 10 (38%) around the world believe their country should never break international laws on human rights.

Around one in five (21%) believe these should only be broken in extreme circumstances and 22% said the laws should only be one factor their country takes into account.

More than half (53%) think their own country’s military should always put avoiding civilian casualties ahead of their national interest, but 14% disagree.

Just above half (51%) agreed if a country commits war crimes, other countries should intervene to stop it – even if that infringes on sovereignty.

This falls to 41% who think their own country should intervene.

  • Iran 31%
  • Russia 25%
  • Saudi Arabia 25%
  • Israel 24%
  • US 22%

Globally more than a third (36%) of people think their country should only trade with nations with a good human rights record, even if it hurts their economy.

However, a similar proportion (33%) think their country should trade with any country if it helps their economy, regardless of that country’s human rights record.

People in Britain and Sweden were most likely of all nationalities surveyed to say trade should only be between countries with a good human rights record, even if it harms the economy, at 50%, compared to a global average of 36%.

Addressing the figures when giving the annual Fulbright lecture in Edinburgh, former foreign secretary David Miliband said: “The poll shows that around the world large numbers of people are looking for commitment to human rights and global engagement.

“However it should be shocking that the US should be perceived to have descended to the level of Russia as a global spoiler.”

He added: “Britain is in Brexit baulk – neither positive nor negative, more likely to be ignored.”

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