In a shocking turn of events, America’s decision to replace its charismatic, erudite, cosmopolitan president — whose persona effused so much goodwill toward humanity that it earned him a Nobel Peace Prize — with a xenophobic reality star who has expressed a fondness for committing sexual assault against married women and war crimes against Muslims has adversely affected our nation’s image in the eyes of the world.
A new Pew Research Center study of public opinion in 37 foreign nations finds that a median of just 22 percent has confidence in the American president’s handling of international affairs, down from 64 percent at the end of Barack Obama’s tenure. Meanwhile, America’s median favorability rating has declined 64 to 49 percent since the Democratic president left office.
The sharpest declines in confidence in American leadership have come among our nation’s core allies. Canada, the United Kingdom, France, South Korea, Germany, Australia, and Japan have all seen their citizens’ confidence in the U.S. president drop by more than 50 points since Trump was sworn in.
Those precipitous drops are a reaction to both Donald Trump’s character and his policy goals. The president is seen as dangerous, intolerant, and arrogant by more than 60 percent of those surveyed. Only 26 percent describe Trump as “well-qualified,” while a mere 23 percent say he cares about ordinary people.
On policy, upwards of 70 percent oppose Trump’s border wall, withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, and threats to withdraw the U.S. from major trade agreements. Meanwhile, 62 percent oppose his immigration restrictions on Muslim-majority countries.
While Trump’s marks from our Western European allies are exceptionally low, they aren’t without recent historical precedent:
Further, Trump has allowed the United States to make inroads with two major countries: Russia and Israel. When Obama left office, 49 percent of Israelis had confidence in the U.S. president; now, 56 percent do. Still, that last figure is close to the average over the course of Obama’s presidency. Which is to say: It doesn’t represent a dramatic shift in the Jewish State’s attitude toward American leadership.
By contrast, for some strange reason, Russia’s confidence in the American president has reached a high unprecedented in the 21st century.
Anyhow, while the broader world does not like our new president, it doesn’t hold that against us: A median of 58 percent of respondents say they have a favorable opinion of the American people.