Better Than USA???

"The greater concern is that America might not be reliable," she says. "There is a lot of conversation, for example, about whether America can be trusted to protect islands in the South China Sea. 

That's a reflection of America's domestic politics, that's a reflection of its will. Is Washington so dysfunctional that Republicans and Democrats can't come together to agree to act?" 

While most of the world sees the United States, China and Russia as the top three leaders when it comes to hard power, with soft power – the ability of a country to exert influence through culture, political values or foreign policy – it's another story. 

According to the Best Countries data, the U.S. outshines its major competitors in terms of variables such as human rights, trustworthiness, government transparency and being a place people would want to live in. 

While the U.S. is in the top 20 in those categories, China and Russia are in the middle or toward the end of the pack. 

"Soft power matters," says Steven W. Hook, professor and past chairman of political science at Kent State University. "The appeal that your country has overseas – freedoms of speech, freedom of religion, civil society – that matters. There is still that foundation of respect for the U.S. 

In terms of freedoms, personal freedoms, the U.S. is viewed quite positively overseas, and even in terms of leadership Obama is quite popular in most of the world." 

It's impossible to know for sure how the U.S. is perceived today versus 35 or 50 years ago, says Pew's Dimock. Reliable data don't stretch back that far. 

But if one considers America's global image in the recent past, he says, the U.S. is actually experiencing a public relations upswing. 

"From a foreign perspective, there was a real nadir of perceptions of the U.S. in 2006, 2007 and 2008," says Dimock, pointing to America's unilateralism and failure to achieve positive results in Iraq and Afghanistan, the negative fallout from Abu Ghraib, 

Guantanamo and other missteps. "It's hard to find a moment when America's image in the world was lower than at that point. So if that's your reference point, then America is doing much better."

So, how would you rate the US?  
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