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Which nations do Americans like most -- and least? Gallup finds some surprises

February 14, 2011 |  3:10 am

Kim Jong Il and armed friends say Happy Valentines Day to AmericansIn an amazing public opinion turnaround, Americans now think most positively about North Korea and Iran and most negatively about onetime friends and close allies Canada and Britain.

It seems that under the Democratic administration of President Obama, Americans are increasingly attracted toward the types of disconnected regimes with aloof, distant leaders who party often and give endless speeches about understanding the people's concerns while allowing serious economic problems to fester.

They break political promises and disregard ordinary citizens' concerns about, say, spending priorities to impose more of their government regulations and centrist policies on grandiose public projects costing billions.

A new Gallup opinion survey finds, in fact, that ... oh, no. Wait. Oh, look at that. We had the Gallup opinion graph upside down.

It's really the other way around: Americans think most favorably about the tuque-wearing neighbors who live up there in the attic of North America and have been so generously sharing their winter storms this year.

And the Yanks also feel quite good about that cute little island nation across the....

...Atlantic that speaks the quaint English and once attempted to rule these unruly colonies.

Those non-necktie-wearing places called North Korea, Iran and Afghanistan are thought of most negatively. Pakistan too. Indeed, according to Gallup's findings, Americans now think better of Communist Cuba than newly democratic Iraq.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt, on which the U.S. just invested more than two weeks of media worry and news alerts, are right down there with Cuba and IIrans leader Mahmound Ahmadinejad waves a friendly fist at Americans on his revolution's anniversary 2-11-11raq in terms of average American feelings.

In fact, as unshaven Egyptian protesters were fighting in what American media portrayed as a drive against autocracy toward democracy, Americans' feelings toward that land soured by 18 points.

Don't worry, France is not among the top five countries seen favorably by les Americains. The favorites are: Canada, Britain, Germany, Japan and India, the last being the only one of the five lands that Americans haven't had a war with yet.

The next five in positive American thoughts are France, Israel, South Korea, Russia and Jordan.

Americans seem uncertain and divided in feelings toward China, which has 47% of Americans thinking positively about it and 50% negatively. But also out today, Gallup finds a sharp shift in the two years of the Obama administration as a majority of Americans (52-32) now calls China the world's leading economic power, not their own country.

For some strange reasons, Americans are now thinking less favorably about Mexico every year, from a 74% positive view in 2005 down now to 45%, just 2 points above the record low view of its southern neighbor in 1993.

Some suggest that could have something to do with crime, violent border drug wars, crime, millions of illegal immigrants, crime and the inability of the U.S. government to secure the country's southern border, although the same federal government has found sufficient resources to sue Arizona for attempting enforcement. But that would probably just be silly speculation.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Associated Press (North Korea's Kim Jong Il and armed friends send Valentine's greetings to the West); Atta Kenare / AFP / Getty Images (Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad waves a friendly fist at Americans).