According to a survey published on Monday by the BBC World Service, Iran is viewed as the country with the most-negative influence in the world. It’s not hard to see why.
Iran’s nuclear program is the subject of much controversy and anxiety in the United States and Europe. Whether or not Tehran is in fact pursuing a peaceful nuclear energy program, its development of nuclear technology poses an immense, if latent, strategic threat to its neighbors and to the regional balance of power. Such fears are only encouraged by Iran’s record of repeated noncompliance with the IAEA–its de-designation of two inspectors last year is only one troubling example of many. At best, Iran has been uncooperative when it comes to questions about its nuclear program. At worst, it could be accused of deliberately misleading the international community.
Issues with Iran’s nuclear program are magnified by its blatant desire to enhance its missile capabilities. Last year, the New York Times reported that Iran had obtained a cache of advanced missiles from North Korea. Based on a Russian design, they put the capitals of Western Europe as well as Moscow within striking distance. When coupled with Iran’s frequently belligerent attitude towards the West, Iranian nuclear aspirations and its growing arsenal are not undue causes for worry. Not to mention its transparent sponsorship of Hizbollah, Hamas, and groups in Syria and Iraq.
The BBC’s annual report surveys the views of citizens of 27 countries around the globe. While Iran took the gold, North Korea and Pakistan got silver and bronze. And the runner up?
This is a good starting point for many in “the West” who want to get a sense of how the rest of the world feels about Israel–and American support for it. Given the perceptions that Americans hold about Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan, Israel’s position at number four should give a rough indication of how it is seen by much of the rest of the world. Whether that view is accurate or not, we should at least have a sense of it before we begin to talk about one of our core allies.
— Jordan D’Amato