June IISEPS survey demonstrated that, as previously, Belarusians consider the US as the most hostile country to Belarus – 52.4% of respondents share this opinion (only 4.2% of respondents believe that the US is a friendly country). For comparison, the next country in the list of hostility is Germany with 23.7% of votes.

In other words, does this mean that Belarusian are an anti-American nation? Some would say that Belarusians are victims of domestic and Russian propaganda, others that Belarusians are a nation that is immanently alien to the world leader culturally and ideologically.

Not at all! Yes, there is a general ascertaining of hostility – either to Belarus or to the official Minsk. But in the answers to the question on different aspects of attitude towards the US and its impact, the evaluations are not strictly negative, on the opposite, they are rather positive (table 1).

Table 1. Distribution of answers to the question: “What is your attitude to the United States of America and their impact on the world and Belarus?”, %

Variant of answer Very positive Rather positive Rather negative Very negative Index*
The US in general 14.6 41.1 27.1 8.2 0.204
Americans 16.5 44.1 23.1 5.1 0.324
Propagation of American ideas in Belarus 9.0 26.3 34.0 13.6 –0.123
American perception of democracy 8.2 28.3 31.0 12.0 –0.065
American business experience 19.3 32.6 17.1 6.5 0.283
American music, cinema, TV 24.7 39.3 17.6 8.4 0.380
American science and technology 24.8 46.4 13.1 5.2 0.520

* Index is the difference between the shares of positive and negative evaluations

More than a half of respondents feel positive about the US and the Americans as a nation. Belarusians are even more positive towards American culture, music, cinema, science and technology.

How is Belarusian attitude compared to the attitude to the US in other countries of the world? Belarusian researchers often content themselves with quite a narrow region – Europe and the CIS countries. Meanwhile the world is big and diverse. And comparing your country to faraway exotic countries may help to better understand yourself and your place in the world.

American Pew Research Center asked the same question in surveys conducted in Latin America and Africa in 2013 (later researches are not yet published). However, it is instructive to compare this results with the Belarusian results of June 2016 (table 2).

Table 2. Indices of attitude to the United States of America and their impact on the world and on a specific country*

Variant of answer Brazil Mexico Venezuela Nigeria The SAR
The US in general 0.496 0.373 0.155 0.555 0.521
Americans 0.435 0.245 0.155 0.553 0.395
Propagation of American ideas in your country 0.107 -0.104 -0.236 0.294 0.312
American perception of democracy 0.272 0.039 -0.074 0.602 0.452
American business experience 0.242 0.126 -0.003 0.588 0.497
American music, cinema, TV 0.438 0.282 0.311 0.346 0.557
American science and technology 0.654 0.368 0.427 0.802 0.618

* Results of Pew survey conducted in 2013

The high level of positive evaluations of “Americana” in two African giants, Nigeria and the SAR, attracts attention. However, in the comparison between Belarus and Latin American countries, including the political opponent of the US Venezuela, Belarus doesn’t look like a stronghold of anti-Americanism. Opinions on Americans are close to the level of Mexico, a little higher than in Venezuela. Opinions on the American style of conducting business is also close to the US neighbor Mexico. Evaluations of American culture are close to pro-American Brazil and Nigeria, as well as the evaluations of American technologies.

Racist arrogance is not pertinent here: Nigeria is a country with population of 194 billion people, larger than Russia; the SAR is a large country as well, 48 billion people, one of the most quickly developing countries of the world.

Comparison with the results of a Pew Survey conducted in 2012 is even more instructive (table 3).

Table 3. Indices of attitude to the United States of America and their impact on the world and on a specific country*

Variant of answer China Egypt Germany India Poland Russia Turkey
The US in general –0.064 –0.596 0.074 0.345 0.450 0.182 –0.565
Americans –0.134 –0.307 0.336 0.320 0.525 0.397 –0.564
Propagation of American ideas in your country 0.076 –0.711 –0.487 –0.098 –0.174 –0.477 –0.674
American perception of democracy 0.191 –0.119 –0.004 0.009 0.066 –0.256 –0.584
American business experience 0.102 0.095 –0.401 0.099 0.054 –0.073 –0.595
American music, cinema, TV –0.004 –0.236 0.339 –0.296 0.442 0.072 –0.262
American science and technology 0.569 0.481 0.192 0.41 0.473 –0.147 –0.004

* Results of Pew survey conducted in 2012

The broader geography of survey 2012 demonstrates even more convincingly that Belarusian anti-Americanism is very relative. Turkey is a formal military ally of the US, Egypt is not a formal ally, but still cooperates with the US closely, Cairo receives billions of dollars from Washington, D.C. Still, Belarusians in comparison with Egypt and Turkey are exemplary pro-American. Anti-American moods in Egypt and Turkey go through the roof: negative evaluations are registered not only for the official politics of Washington, D.C., but also for almost every other manifestation of “Americana”.

Compared to these countries, Belarus, which has no military or political alliance with the US, demonstrates a much more sympathetic attitude. An interesting point of table 3 are deviations from the trend. Basically, all countries, even those that don’t like the US in general, quite highly appreciate American style of doing business and American technologies. But Germans know how to conduct business too, and thanks to that are leading in Europe, so they evaluate American business style quite negatively.

Russians still remember the times when they “constructed rockets” and played on equal terms with the US in some technological spheres, hence they evaluate negatively American achievements in technology and science. Belarusians don’t aspire to compete with the US in this field, and they give credit to the US for their business, culture and technology. As for the lack of enthusiasm about propagation of American ideas in Belarus and American perceptions of democracy, well, who shows great enthusiasm about this?

As strange as it may seem, countries, situated very far from Belarus and much more powerful in various aspects, do. For example, China, geopolitical rival of the US, India, Nigeria, the SAR. But if you compare with European neighbors, Belarus doesn’t look strange. Even Poland, a very pro-American country, doesn’t welcome propagation of American ideas. And when compared to Germany, the most influential ally of the US in Europe, it turns out that Belarusians are even more positive about the impact of American ideas than Germans.

The fact that the US is not very appreciated in many countries can have different explanations. America bears the burden of ruling the world, and stranger’s rule is usually not pleasing.

It seems that a hypothetic Pax China or Pax Russia would have attracted much higher irritation. But it should be noted that despite the ascertaining of Washington’s hostility towards the official Minsk, there is no deep anti-Americanism in Belarus. Probably, there is no deep love as well. But there is a respect to the great nation, living over the ocean, there are positive opinions on their ability to conduct business and discover technological innovations. This positive attitude is obvious in comparison with other countries of the world.

Belarusians are not Egyptians or Turks who express mass dislike to everything American. Belarusians are not Russians as well. We have no Pew data from 2014 and subsequent years on Russians’ attitude to America and various aspects of American culture, but a range of other researches testifies on a drastic worsening of Russians’ attitude to America. If something like this happens in Belarus, it is not significant.

Attitude towards the US and Americans is quite positive. We can suppose that it can become even better in case of political changes in Belarus. Although it’s unlikely that it will change fundamentally. Results of the Pew survey for 2012 regarding Poland and Germany demonstrate that even the most pro-American countries of Europe do not consider themselves as the 51st state of the US. In this regard Belarus is a normal European country with a certain scepsis about American influence and with a fair share of sympathy to the New World. This sympathy is not overcome by neither domestic nor Russian propaganda.