Sunday, May 19, 2024

Report shows how the world views American, Russian, Chinese leadership

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International approval of American leadership has remained flat at 41%, but it’s more highly rated than the leadership of our chief adversaries.

Global approval of U.S. leadership in President Joe Biden’s first full year in office was 45%. It then dropped to 41% in each of the last two years, according to a Gallup report published Tuesday.

The rating is based off surveys in over 130 countries and territories, Gallup said.

China’s global approval stood at 30%, while Russia’s came in at just 22%.

Seeing American leadership with higher approval on the world stage than China or Russia is “extremely important,” said Simon Reich, a political science professor at Rutgers-Newark with expertise in global affairs.

He said the U.S. and China are two poles of attraction in the world.

“We’re in a competition with China, not simply economically, not simply militarily, but also diplomatically,” Reich said.

Oklahoma State University politics professor Seth McKee also said our higher leadership rating than those of China or Russia matters from the standpoint of foreign policy and international influence.

“If we flipped it upside down, just think of the influence that China and Russia could have,” McKee said. “And so, I think that that’s the silver lining.”

Gallup said Germany (46%) remained the top-rated global power for the seventh year in a row.

America’s current 41% approval is lower than the Obama years, which averaged about 46%, but higher than the Trump years (averaged 31%) or the last two years of the second Bush administration.

The Gallup surveys didn’t directly ask foreigners what they thought of the presidents. They simply asked about “leadership.”

But both Reich and McKee said it’s clear the occupant of the Oval Office drives the perception of American leadership overseas.

That’s why the trend line is so up and down, Reich said.

Global approval of American leadership jumped from 30% in 2020 to 45% in 2021, for example.

Some people will think about the United States as an ideal, culture or destination.

But people responding to these survey questions usually focus on leaders and policies, Reich said.

“It’s not like somebody liked Disney last year and they don’t like Disney this year,” he said, referencing America’s cultural impact on the world stage.

McKee said trust plays a big role in how people in other countries view U.S. leadership.

And part of that is consistency and predictability, he said.

Biden is “a more typical American president” than former President Donald Trump, McKee said.

Trump was hostile towards traditional American allies, such as NATO, and he was seen as “cozying up with dictators,” such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, McKee said.

“I think that that’s reflected quite a bit in the plummet under Trump,” McKee said of the global approval ratings.

McKee said Trump was also an isolationist.

Reich said people in other countries generally don’t like the U.S. to be overwhelming with its international leadership, but they want America to be engaged.

“The world has a very, very ambivalent view of the notion of American leadership,” he said.

Reich said the sense of unreliability about American global leadership can get amplified because we get a succession of presidents who take vastly different policy positions.

“And, of course, the 2024 election … presents the American public and the rest of the world with this vastly contrasting view about how America will engage the world,” Reich said.

The U.S. registered a median approval rating in Europe of 41%, a median approval across the Americas of 39%, and a median approval across Asia of 37%.

Gallup said we had a net approval, rather than net disapproval, in 74 countries.

Approval of U.S. leadership soared to a record high of 81% in Israel. Gallup said Israelis were surveyed two weeks after the Hamas attack.

Views of U.S. leadership in Ukraine dropped to 53% last year after reaching a record high of 66% in 2022.

Over half of Germans polled by Gallup approved of American leadership, as did 45% of people in the U.K., and 41% in France.

Approval for American leadership was just 6% in Russia and just 10% in Iran.

Our neighbors to the north gave American leadership 40% approval.

Thirty-two percent of Mexicans approved of U.S. leadership.

U.S. leadership approval stood at 42% in the 83 countries and territories surveyed before the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war. It dipped to 39% across the 51 additional countries and territories surveyed after the war started.

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