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High hopes abroad for a new U.S. president

A word of caution about great expectations for a new US president

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The rest of the world can't vote for the next American president, but many certainly follow the US campaign as if they could. They also hold high hopes that a new leader – no matter who wins – will change Washington's foreign policy. They may well be disappointed.

Despite a recent uptick in reputation around the world, the US is still viewed mostly unfavorably in many countries – including longtime friends such as France, Turkey, and Mexico. The criticisms are well known: The US is not a team player (climate change); it is an aggressor (Iraq); it doesn't live up to its own values (Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay).

The deep displeasure helps explain the great attention paid to the US election. According to last month's "global attitudes" survey by the Pew Research Center, 83 percent of Japanese are following the campaign closely. No other country outruns the Japanese as newshounds on the US campaign trail. But at least half of Germans, Australians, Jordanians, and British are also following the twists and turns closely.

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