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The World Thinks Less of Us, Says Survey, and Trump Is a Factor

The world's opinion of the United States has plunged, according to a survey by Pew Research. Donald Trump has made a troubling contribution to our worsening reputation after only five month in office, the survey says, and this was before the recent misogynistic tweets against television host Mika Brzezinski — which continue two days after universal condemnation, even by the few Congress members who had principles enough to speak out.

The survey spanning 37 nations comes up with a median rating of just 22% confidence that Trump will do the right thing in international affairs. Republicans and a smattering of Democrats thought Barack Obama's foreign policy performance was disastrous, but the world rates confidence in him at 64%. Only Israel and Russia rate Trump higher than Obama.

The world's view of the United States as a country seems closely linked to Obama — also registering at 64% and dropping to 49% now. A

chart at the Pew site compares Trump to Obama, which seems to us
rather too pointed for that reputable organization, but Trump seems to be at the center of all questions asked. Perhaps of note is that Sweden's drop — Obama to Trump — is the greatest — 83% — which we'll guess is caused by Trump's claim of a non-existent terror attack there in February. Germany is not far behind. Its opinion went from 86% at the end of Obama's term to 11% now.

Of the major leaders, Angela Merkel enjoys the highest confidence rating, with 42% believing she will do the right thing involving world affairs compared to Xi Jinping (28%) and Vladimir Putin (27%) . At 22%, Trump is rated below Putin. (You may have seen photos — meant to be jokes but perhaps not really — of Trump and Merkel together captioned, "The leader of the free world and Donald Trump"). It's the "no confidence" rating that produces the widest split: 31% for Merkel to 74% for Trump.

All of these figures are the median, which Pew prefers to averages, presumably because averages weight the scores. When all countries are listed in their high-to-low rating order, the median is the member of any sorted list that occupies the midpoint in the list.

It is Trump's policies that bring the opinion of the U.S. low. Here is a chart
from Pew that shows the median of the 37 countries' reaction to Trump's promises to his America First base. And these ratings were from before Trump withdrew America from the Paris climate change accord.

Mexico's "favorable view of the U.S." has hit a wall, understandably going from 66% to 30%. In supposed NATO ally Turkey, 79% have an unfavorable view, and along with Jordan 82% are against the spread of "U.S. ideas and customs".

Still, 58% of the three dozen countries have a favorable view of the American people. The Far East, which Trump abandoned with his cancellation of the Trans Pacific Partnership, particularly like us. It is the Middle East, save for Israel, that dislikes us — Turkey most of all at more than two-thirds.
Trump is particularly disliked for his traits, although viewed as a strong leader.

The solution is simple. To win them over, we should simply entertain the world. In answer to the statement, "I like American music, movies and television" even Sweden pulls out of its scold: along with Canadians, 88% of Swedes say "yes". All of Europe agrees, with ratings in the 70s and the Netherlands at 82. Elsewhere the vote ranges from 80% with few lows. The lowest is India at 26%. It has Bollywood to entertain itself.

1 Comment for “The World Thinks Less of Us, Says Survey, and Trump Is a Factor”

  1. First, let’s recognize a really fascinating opinion – Russian’s view is 42% more favorable of Trump vs. Obama. What msg does that send to Putin?
    After that, consider that a central tenet of Trump’s campaign was ‘America First’. To a large extent, this related to immigration policy and trade agreements. Should it be any big surprise that other countries would find this theme less appealing than the Obama apology tour and trade giveaways?
    Give me a break – there’s a new sheriff in town. Of course they don’t like it.
    But ask our allies in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, how comfortable are they that the US has their back under Trump vs. Obama?
    And ask yourself, how comfortable are you that Trump will deal with North Korea more effectively than Obama, or any number of recent administrations?
    Are we here to worry about what others think of us, or to think about what’s best for us?
    As it applies to international relations, it’s less important that we’re liked, far more important that we’re respected and feared.

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