WASHINGTON - Opposition to the use of US drones to target terrorists in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia is growing around the world, a new American poll finds.
Even key US allies oppose the use of the unmanned aircraft, according to the Pew Research Center poll.
In 37 of 44 countries surveyed on the issue, at least half of the respondents opposed American strikes, which have become a signature tactic of the Obama administration's war on terrorism.
The administration has carried out strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere, often prompting charges in those countries that innocent civilians have been killed.
Opposition to American drone attacks is particularly strong in the Middle East. In Jordan, a key US ally, 90 per cent of those surveyed oppose the tactic, up from 87 per cent opposed last year.
In Pakistan, 66 per cent of those surveyed were opposed to it.
In only three of the countries surveyed — Israel, Kenya and the US — do a majority approve of drone strikes.
But support is falling in the US, where 52 per cent of those surveyed approved of the strikes, down from 61 per cent last year.
The margin of error for the US poll is +/-3.5 per centage points.
The poll found that revelations of National Security Agency (NSA) spying have hurt America's global reputation.
Historically, the United States has been admired globally for respecting individual liberties, but that image is starting to erode, said Richard Wike, Director of Global Attitudes Research at Pew.
Revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden have exposed widespread domestic and international surveillance by the NSA, triggering political condemnation at home and around the world.
"There is a lot of opposition to the US intercepting the communications of leaders and ordinary citizens," Wike said.
The impact was particularly strong in Germany and Brazil, where Snowden's revelations indicated that the NSA had spied on the leaders of those two countries.
The per centage of people who believe the United States respects personal freedoms fell to 51 per cent in Brazil this year, down from 76 per cent in 2013. In Germany, it dropped to 58 per cent from 81 per cent in 2013.
The poll was based on 48,643 interviews in the 44 countries.
The margin of error varied slightly, depending on the country where the polling was conducted.
Despite these misgivings about signature American policies, across 43 nations, a median of 65 per cent express a positive opinion about the US. And these overall ratings for the US are little changed from 2013, according to the survey.
Moreover, President Obama is still largely popular internationally –
across 44 nations, a median of 56 per cent state they have confidence in him to do the right thing in world affairs. And, while Obama no longer has the same high levels of popularity that he enjoyed immediately after his election in 2008, there has been very little change in his appeal over the past year.
When Asians are asked about their top allies and threats, China is listed as the greatest threat in three countries that have major territorial grievances with China: Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam, the poll found.
In contrast, Pakistanis, Chinese and Malaysians name the US as the biggest threat to their country.
Today, China is still seen as the clear economic leader in these nations, although over the past two years the numbers for the US have increased slightly, while the percentage naming China as the leading economic power has declined somewhat, the survey
More broadly, many around the world believe that at some point China will surpass the US as the world’s leading superpower.
In 2008, global public opinion in these 20 nations was divided on this question, with 41 per cent stating China will eventually replace or has already replaced the US as the dominant superpower, and 39 per cent stating China will never supplant the US.