America’s Global Image: Not Great, AgainSeptember 17, 2018
“In countries where confidence in the U.S. president fell most, America’s overall image has also tended to suffer more,” Pew reports. “In the closing years of the Obama presidency, a median of 64% had a positive view of the U.S. Today, just 49% are favorably inclined toward America. Again, some of the steepest declines in U.S. image are found among long-standing allies.”
Some of the biggest declines have been in countries with whom the U.S. has a collective defense agreement, such as NATO members and Japan, especially when it comes to confidence in the president. Mexico, unsurprisingly, also saw a big public opinion drop on both questions. On the other hand, public favorability toward the U.S. has gone up in Russia, and public confidence in the president has gone up in both Israel and Russia since Trump took office.5
The Leaders of France, Germany, CHINA and RUSSIA Viewed More Favorably Than Trump Across the Globe
Important US Allies Have Less Confidence in US Because of Trump
Germans Don’t Like Trump
Mexicans Don’t Like Trump
Canadians Don’t Like Trump
Japanese Don’t Like Trump
Trump seems incapable of restraining himself from insulting foreign leaders. His slogan “America First” harks back to the isolationists of 1940, and foreign leaders know it. He can read speeches written for him by others, as he did in Warsaw on July 6, but he cannot himself articulate a worldview that goes beyond a teenager’s bluster. He lays out his resentments, insecurities, and obsessions on Twitter for all to see, opening up a gold mine to foreign governments seeking to understand and manipulate the American president.
On issues that are truly global in scope, Trump has abdicated leadership and the moral high ground. The United States has managed to isolate itself on the topic of climate change, by the tone of its pronouncements no less than by its precipitous exit from the Paris Agreement. As for human rights, the president has taken only cursory notice of the two arrests of the Russian dissident Alexei Navalny or the death of the Chinese Nobel Prize winner and prisoner of conscience Liu Xiaobo. Trump did not object after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s security detail beat American protesters on American soil, in Washington, D.C. In April, he reportedly told Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte, who has used death squads to deal with offenders of local narcotics laws, that he was doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.” Trump’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, made it clear in his first substantive speech to State Department employees that American values are now of at best secondary importance to “American interests,” presumably economic, in the conduct of foreign policy.
This outburst coincided with one of the most provocativecovers Germany’s highly respected weekly Der Spiegel ever published — an outstretched middle finger bearing Trump’s likeness, with the English caption, “Goodbye, Europe!” Spiegel’s editorial to go with this image called on Europe to join the anti-Trump resistance:
The West as we once knew it no longer exists. Our relationship to the United States cannot currently be called a friendship and can hardly be referred to as a partnership. President Trump has adopted a tone that ignores 70 years of trust. He wants punitive tariffs and demands obedience. It is no longer a question as to whether Germany and Europe will take part in foreign military interventions in Afghanistan or Iraq. It is now about whether trans-Atlantic cooperation on economic, foreign and security policy even exists anymore. The answer: No.