The countries Americans love and hate most

Americans may occassionally have some good-natured fun at the expense of Canadians, but it's not because they dislike their neighbors to the north. In fact, Americans love Canadians. Deeply. A new Gallup survey of Americans' Most and Least Favored Nations finds that Canada is the country Americans view most favorably, which comes as no surprise because the country has occupied one of the top two spots since Gallup first conducted the survey in 1989.

Not far behind are Great Britain, Germany, and Japan, all enjoying a rating of "very" or "mostly" favorable by more than 4 in 5 U.S. citizens. Least-favorite nations include the usual suspects: Iraq, the Palestinian Authority, North Korea, and Iran all drew favorable ratings from fewer than a fifth of respondents.

The survey reveals some noteworthy differences within groups of Americans. Self-described Republicans tend to see Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Israel more favorably, while Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela, China, and France are more likely to be viewed positively by Democrats. On the whole, young Americans are more likely to view Russia and China favorably, with 60 percent of those aged 18 to 34 responding favorably, while only a third of Americans 55 or older have positive feelings about those countries.

Interestingly, two countries -- Russia and Kenya -- received a roughly equal amount of favorable and unfavorable grades. Perhaps the survey serves as a snapshot of Americans' views about recent news. Both nations are in a state of flux right now, with Russia entering an uncertain post-Putin era and Kenya's image as one of Africa's most-stable countries taking a beating due to post-election violence. Depending on how the respective situations pan out, we could see a lot of movement in the numbers next time around. It's just not clear in which direction things will go.


Jagdish Bhagwati: Obama is better than Clinton on trade

Columbia University economist Jagdish Bhagwati, author of In Defense of Globalization and other fine works, sallies forth in today's Financial Times to say that Barack Obama would be a better free trader than Hillary Clinton. He offers five main arguments:

  1. Clinton wants to pause the Doha round of trade talks; Obama never said so.
  2. Obama has better economic advisors, such as Austan Goolsbee of the University of Chicago.
  3. The unions that support Obama are less opposed to trade than those that support Clinton.
  4. Clinton must oppose NAFTA more strongly than Obama because her husband supported it.
  5. Obama proposed the Patriot Employer Act, a politically smart but economically stupid idea that will never be enacted. Proposing it and letting it fail will allow Obama to "abandon the anti-trade rhetoric and embrace the multilateral free trade that has served the American and the world interest so well."

It seems like the sort of argument that Obama -- who is under attack for Goolsbee's alleged "wink and nod" to the Canadians over NAFTA -- would want to see aired after today's Ohio primary.