I'm in a position where I travel around the world regularly, mainly the Middle East, Europe (West, East & the former USSR
), USA, Asia, Sth America and the Pacific (never been to Africa or the Med.).
More often than not, the general feeling that I hear from people about their perceptions of the USA (just a few reasons that I can think of right now), is that:
1. Americans think they are high & mighty & are better than everyone else. There is such a think as being proud of your country (take Scotland or Ireland for example), but get off your high horse.
2. They think they can whatever they want to whoever they want whenever they want.
3. They don't accept or respect other country's differing opinions, thinking that the USA has the only right answer (e.g. if countrys didn't support their position on Iraq then they are punished through restricted trade or military support). Because the control the world's media (except Al Jazeera so it seems), they can manipulate the public much easier.
4. They think they have jurisdiction over any territory in the world (i.e. the world's policeman).
5. They are guilty of hypocripsy (sp?), in other words, they attack Iraq for having weapons of mass destruction, but which country has the most weapons of mass destruction? - the USA! If you think "oh, but we can be trusted, refer to #3 above).
6. In a similar theme to #5, they go on and on about America being land of the free, but the citizens put of with so much more red tape, B.S. and government control than many people I know in other countries.
7. Because few Americans seem to travel, they have no accurate picture of life in other countries, so don't have an accurate basis from which to spout 'America is the greatest' etc etc etc
Being from a small nation that has fought alongside other allied troops in the World Wars, of course we really do appreciate what the US has done for world peace (at least up until a couple of years ago). Without their help, the world would certainly be an awful place. In the same vein, everyone recognises the significant contribution towards the world economy. BUT, what's with the high & mighty attitude? I don't think the words 'humble' or 'modest' feature much in the American lingo.
Nothing personal, but if Americans could be a little more respectful and humble, we wouldn't find you all so arrogant, yet amusing all the same