America’s international standing takes a further plunge – poll

In Germany, US favourability was at 26%. This level was only rivalled by the survey in March 2003 during the Iraq War.

International perceptions of the US has sunk to new record lows, according to a new poll from Pew Research covering 13 countries, which highlighted a lack of trust in President Donald Trump’s decision-making on foreign policy, as well as the country’s inadequate coronavirus response.

Released on Tuesday (15 September), the latest edition of Pew Research’s Global Attitudes survey shows overwhelming majorities of the 13,273 people surveyed between June and August have an unfavourable view of the US and President Trump.

Only 26% of German respondents held positive views of the US, a low rivalled only by the March 2003 poll, during the height of tensions over the Iraq war. Similarly, in France, 31% of those surveyed said they had a favourable view of the country, tied with the March 2003 poll. 

In the UK, 41% of citizens viewed the US favourably, the lowest level in the survey’s 20-year history.

When it comes to President Trump, the numbers are even lower. Only one in every ten Germans claims to have confidence in the US president. In France, it is similar, at 11%. The highest level of confidence amongst the European countries surveyed is in the UK with 19%. 

In fact, fewer respondents have confidence in Trump than in Chinese President Xi Jinping or Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

“I still think there is admiration for the United States, but it may be waning very quickly — especially if Trump gets reelected,” Sudha David-Wilp, deputy director of the German Marshall Fund’s Berlin Office, told the Washington Post

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European leaders more popular

While Trump’s international approval has plummeted even further, European leaders enjoy high levels of confidence. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was perceived the most favourably with 76% of respondents in the 13 country median claiming to “have confidence [in her] to do the right thing in international affairs.”

In second place with 64% was French President Emmanuel Macron, who had a lower approval rating back home (52%). 

Despite the continued Brexit controversies, British PM Boris Johnson’s approval was also above water: 48% of respondents have confidence in his decisions regarding international affairs, versus 46% of those who do not.

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Pandemic fallout

Since Trump took office in 2016, US favourability in most countries has seen a steep decline from the comparatively high levels of support under President Barack Obama. However, the 2020 numbers are a significant decline even from 2019. 

The survey shows support was down 13% year-on-year in Germany, 17% in France, and 16% in the UK.

In line with polling during the early days of the pandemic, the authors say “part of the decline over the past year is linked to how the U.S. had handled the coronavirus pandemic.” 

The 13-country median has 84% of respondents rating the country’s pandemic response as either “somewhat bad” (32%) or “very bad” (53%).

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The US continues to have the highest number of coronavirus cases in the world with more than 6.5 million infected and 194,000 deaths as of Tuesday (15 September). 

While cases are down from their peak in July and August, last week, White House coronavirus adviser, Dr Anthony Fauci, called the most recent data “disturbing,” adding “we’re plateauing at around 40,000 cases a day and the deaths are around 1,000.”

Trump has repeatedly praised his handling of the coronavirus. As recently as this past weekend, he said in an interview with Fox News that he had taken “tremendous steps” to contain the pandemic, highlighting his travel bans on China and the EU in the early days.  

However, many have highlighted Trump’s initial downplaying of the virus as one of the reasons for the US’ difficulty in containing the virus. On 27 February, he said, “it’s going to disappear. One day – it’s like a miracle – it will disappear.” 

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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