Elite Perceptions of the US

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How is the United States viewed from abroad?

Explore how elites in Latin America and the former Soviet Union view the United States in their own words with this interactive site.

This site goes beyond the data to outline elite perceptions of the United States in other regions of the world broken down by key themes and countries. It supports a wider research project run by Chatham House which analyses America's image abroad, and examines how the effectiveness of US foreign policy can be undermined by misunderstandings and misperceptions of US intentions. By identifying how others view the US and what factors shape those views, the project aims to better inform US policy-makers about the global environment they operate in.

  • Read the latest report, which examines elite perceptions of the US in Latin America and the former Soviet Union and makes recommendations as to how the US could adjust its policies based on these perceptions.

  • Read the previous report in this series, which examined elite perceptions of the US in Asia and Europe

Please see our About Us page for more information on the project, the US and the Americas Programme at Chatham House, and the methodology behind the survey.

Select theme

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    People and culture

    People and culture

    Surveyed elites across the board have a more favourable view of the American people and American values expressed through its culture, business and education (particularly its universities) than of the American government. Many of them do express support for an abstract idea of American strength, but that does not translate into support for specific American policies.

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    Inconsistent foreign policy

    Inconsistent foreign policy

    Elites in our survey generally view American policy as some combination of misguided and self-interested; far from the soaring rhetoric deployed by American political leaders.

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    Perceived arrogance

    Perceived arrogance

    American foreign policy is seen as either high-handed explanations of the specific region based on insufficient knowledge, or – in some cases – showing a fundamental arrogance which is unhelpful to progress and development.

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    Immigration policy

    Immigration policy

    Though often presented to Americans as a domestic issue, immigration policy plays a major role in perceptions, particularly among Latin American elites.

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    American policy process

    American policy process

    The means by which American policy, both foreign and domestic, is made is poorly understood. While the president and secretary of state are widely recognized, the role of Congress, the executive agencies and the states are less well-known.

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    Domestic factors

    Domestic factors

    Inequality, police violence, gun crime and the quality of the country’s political discourse are factors which drive notably negative perceptions of the US as a whole.

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    Histories

    Histories

    Past American support for military governments in Latin America convinced many elites in that region that the US is a fundamentally malign force, while American promises made in the wake of the USSR’s collapse are contrasted negatively against the reality of US policy in that region.

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