Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

The Plummeting of U.S. Standing in the World

When asked about “confidence in the U.S. president to do the right thing in world affairs,” 22 percent of those surveyed as part of a recent Pew Research Center global poll expressed confidence in Donald Trump and 74 percent expressed no confidence.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Lobelog

The Pew Research Center released last week the results of one of its periodic surveys of global views of the United States and its leadership and policies. More than 40,000 people were polled in 37 countries across six continents between February and May. The most salient finding is a dramatic drop in confidence in the United States and, more specifically, in the current U.S. leadership.

When asked about “confidence in the U.S. president to do the right thing in world affairs,” 22 percent of those surveyed expressed confidence in Donald Trump and 74 percent expressed no confidence. This is a huge reversal from the last time the same question was asked about Barack Obama late in his presidency, in which 64 percent expressed confidence and 23 percent no confidence.

The rapidity as well as the magnitude of the change is striking. Trump’s numbers approach those of George W. Bush near the end of his presidency, but in Bush’s case those depths were reached only after a long decline during his two terms. Trump has managed to bum people out around the world during his first four months in office.

In only two of the 37 countries surveyed was there an increase in confidence in the U.S. president since that last poll taken during Obama’s presidency. One is Israel, with a modest rise from 49 to 56 percent, although the latter figure is still slightly below the average for all five Pew polls taken during Obama’s tenure. A bigger rise is in Russia, where the figure of 53 percent having confidence in Trump is higher than any of the results in Russia for either Bush or Obama. These results are not surprising in view of the deference Trump has shown to the governments of those two countries. The Pew survey did not include any Gulf Arab countries, but if it had there perhaps would also have been a rise in the numbers, for the same reason, in Saudi Arabia.

The overall results are not surprising either, in view of the many other indications of foreign popular sentiment toward Trump and his administration, as well as similar expressions from foreign leaders. The latter have included, for example, statements from the chancellor of Germany and the Canadian foreign minister reflecting a lack of confidence in Trump’s leadership.

Although not surprising, the importance of the poll results for the success or failure of U.S. foreign policy and the advance or decline of U.S. interests is insufficiently appreciated within the United States. The problems are not limited to the chemistry between leaders that seems to get the most press attention at summit meetings, or to Trump’s boorish behavior, which has become a fixture at such meetings. Nor are they limited to the broader perceptions of Trump personally, as striking as those perceptions are. As documented by the Pew survey, there is less confidence in Trump to do the right thing than in Xi Jinping of China or Vladimir Putin of Russia. The three adjectives that respondents most attached to Trump were “arrogant,” “intolerant,” and “dangerous.”

The Pew results suggest broader difficulties by showing that the standing of the United States itself has fallen with the advent of Trump. Compared with the last such poll during Obama’s presidency, favorable views of the United States dropped from 64 to 49 percent and unfavorable views rose from 26 to 39 percent.

The Trumpian slogan of “America first” tends to disguise the larger implications of such results. Set aside for the moment the falsity of that slogan, given that subcontracting segments of foreign policy to the Israelis or Saudis (or glossing over whatever Russia may be up to) is not putting America first. The slogan, and the set of attitudes underlying it, implies a nonchalance about foreign attitudes and a belief that Americans need not care what foreigners think. That belief misses much of how foreign attitudes and perceptions, which influence foreign government policies, can affect, for good or for ill, U.S. objectives.

Successful foreign policy involves getting other states to act in ways that advance or protect the interests of one’s own state. To the extent that the people and policymakers in those other states have “confidence in the U.S. president to do the right thing in world affairs,” they are more likely to act in the way the U.S. president would like them to act. Lacking such confidence, they are that much less likely to act in accordance with U.S. wishes. This principle applies regardless of the content of U.S. policy and grand strategy. It is the reason the plunge in this kind of confidence from late Obama to early Trump is important.

The survey results also provide perspective on criticisms and standards applied to previous administrations. Criticisms of Obama about supposedly surrendering U.S. leadership look especially strange now, considering what has come after him.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman and longtime “superlobbyist” who has supported numerous neoconservative advocacy campaigns, has become embroiled in the special prosecutor’s investigation into the Donald Trump campaign’s potential collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.


Jon Lerner is a conservative political strategist and top adviser to US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. He was a key figure in the “Never Trump” Campaign, which appears to have led to his being ousted as Vice President Mike Pence’s national security adviser.


Pamela Geller is a controversial anti-Islam activist who has founded several “hate groups” and likes to repeat debunked myths, including about the alleged existence of “no-go” Muslim zones in Europe.


Max Boot, neoconservative military historian at the Council on Foreign Relations, on Trump and Russia: “At every turn Trump is undercutting the ‘get tough on Russia’ message because he just can’t help himself, he just loves Putin too much.”


Although overlooked by President Trump for cabinet post, Gingrich has tried to shape affairs in the administration, including by conspiring with government officials to “purge the State Department of staffers they viewed as insufficiently loyal” to the president.


Former Sen Mark Kirk (R-IL) is an advisor for United Against Nuclear Iran. He is an outspoken advocate for aggressive action against Iran and a fierce defender of right-wing Israeli policies.


A military historian, Kimberly Kagan heads the Institute for the Study of War, where she has promoted the continuation of U.S. war in Afghanistan.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Other than the cynical political interests in Moscow and Tehran, there is no conceivable rationale for wanting Bashar al-Assad to stay in power. But the simple fact is, he has won the war. And while Donald Trump has reveled in positive press coverage of the recent attacks on the country, it is clear that they were little more than a symbolic act.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The reality is that the Assad regime is winning the Syrian civil war, and this matters far less to U.S. interests than it does to that regime or its allies in Russia and Iran, who see Syria as their strongest and most consistent entrée into the Arab world. Those incontrovertible facts undermine any notion of using U.S. military force as leverage to gain a better deal for the Syrian people.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

An effective rhetorical tool to normalize military build-ups is to characterize spending increases “modernization.”


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Pentagon has officially announced that that “long war” against terrorism is drawing to a close — even as many counterinsurgency conflicts  rage across the Greater Middle East — and a new long war has begun, a permanent campaign to contain China and Russia in Eurasia.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Revelations that data-consulting firm Cambridge Analytica used ill-gotten personal information from Facebook for the Trump campaign masks the more scandalous reality that the company is firmly ensconced in the U.S. military-industrial complex. It should come as no surprise then that the scandal has been linked to Erik Prince, co-founder of Blackwater.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

As the United States enters the second spring of the Trump era, it’s creeping ever closer to more war. McMaster and Mattis may have written the National Defense Strategy that over-hyped the threats on this planet, but Bolton and Pompeo will have the opportunity to address these inflated threats in the worst way possible: by force of arms.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

We meet Donald Trump in the media every hour of every day, which blots out much of the rest of the world and much of what’s meaningful in it.  Such largely unexamined, never-ending coverage of his doings represents a triumph of the first order both for him and for an American cult of personality.


RightWeb
share