Washington, Aug 18 : A new survey conducted by "America in the World", an independent pressure group, has found that Britons suffer from lack of knowledge as far as facts related to the US are concerned. They are governed by ignorance of the facts related to a wide ranging of issues, like what proportion of arsenal with Saddam Hussain was given by the US, or whether polygamy was legal or illegal in the US.
Tim Montgomerie, its director, said factual inaccuracies and mistaken assumptions have contributed to Britons and Europeans taking a hostile stance towards their most powerful ally, which often acted against national interests.
Asked if it was true that "from 1973 to 1990 the US sold Saddam Hussein more than a quarter of his weapons", 80 per cent of British respondents said yes. However, the US sold just 0.46 per cent of Saddam's arsenal to him, compared to Russia's 57 per cent, France's 13 per cent and China's 12 per cent.
The poll based on interactions with 2000 Britons, found that 70 per cent of respondents incorrectly said it was true that the US had done a worse job than the EU in reducing carbon emissions since 2000. More than 50 per cent presumed that polygamy was legal in the US, when it is illegal in all 50 states. Montgomerie said the purpose of conducting the survey was to find out how to what extent the Britishers were misinformed about the Americans. "We wanted to found out how British people understood America and found that there was an unbalanced view. Maybe there are good reasons but if we cleared a lot of that factual ignorance we would have a better understanding of what America really is," The Telegraph quoted Montgomerie as saying.
The survey showed that a majority agreed with the false statement that since the Second World War the US had more often sided with non-Muslims when they had come into conflict with Muslims. In fact in 11 out of 12 major conflicts between Muslims and non-Muslims, Muslims and secular forces, or Arabs and non-Arabs, the US has sided with the former group. Those conflicts included Turkey and Greece, Bosnia and Yugoslavia, and and Kosovo and Yugoslavia. Almost a third of Britons believe that "Americans who have not paid their hospitals fees or insurance premiums are not entitled to emergency medical care"; by law such treatment must be provided. More than half the respondents believed that polygamy was legal in some US states, while it is illegal in all US states. Likewise, most Britons were unaware of positive aspects of the US, such as the robust environmental movement or the social justice work of evangelical churches, said Montgomerie.