Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Souring world views of Trump open doors for China and Russia



Souring world views of Trump open doors for China and Russia

President Donald Trump with Vice President Mike Pence at the Capitol in Washington, January 17, 2018. Approval of American leadership has dropped nearly 20 percentage points since President Barack Obama’s final year in office in countries around the world, a Gallup survey found. Doug Mills/The New York Times
President Donald Trump with Vice President Mike Pence at the Capitol in Washington, January 17, 2018. Approval of American leadership has dropped nearly 20 percentage points since President Barack Obama’s final year in office in countries around the world, a Gallup survey found. Doug Mills/The New York Times

Souring world views of Trump open doors for China and Russia

by Peter Baker

WASHINGTON — Much of the world has soured on American leadership since President Donald Trump took office, a loss of faith that has opened up opportunities for other countries like China, Russia and Germany to assert themselves on the international stage, according to an extensive new survey of people living around the globe.

Just 30 percent of people interviewed in 134 countries last year approved of American leadership under Trump, a drop of nearly 20 percentage points since President Barack Obama’s final year and the lowest finding since the Gallup polling organisation began asking the question overseas more than a decade ago. The decline was especially steep in Latin America, Europe and Canada.

The findings of the survey come just a week before Trump plans to go to Europe to attend the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a traditional gathering of political and economic elites. Trump has alienated many other countries, including longtime U.S. allies, by pulling back from international agreements and organisations, not to mention by issuing derogatory remarks like those last week denigrating Africa and Haiti.

“It makes it more challenging to lead when people are this down on your leadership,” said Jon Clifton, Gallup’s global managing partner. “But on the other hand, if we were sitting with President Trump and his leadership team, they would say these results are understandable because we’re making tough decisions.”

Among those decisions has been abandoning the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and the Paris climate change accord, undercutting the multinational nuclear deal with Iran, assailing NATO allies for not spending more on their militaries and threatening to scrap free-trade pacts with Mexico, Canada, South Korea and others.

The survey showed that approval of U.S. leadership has fallen 10 points or more in 65 of the 134 countries since Trump’s inauguration, while it increased by that much or more in just four countries: Belarus, Israel, Liberia and Macedonia. It fell by 40 percentage points in Canada (from 60 percent in 2016 to 20 percent in 2017) and 28 percentage points in Mexico (from 44 to 16 percent).

Among NATO countries, 18 of 28 had 10-point declines or more, including Italy (14 points), Germany (21 points), Britain (26 points), France (28 points), Belgium (44 points) and Portugal (51 points). Even in Norway, which Trump singled out last week for praise, saying he would rather immigrants come from there than Africa or Haiti, just 13 percent approved of Trump’s leadership, down 42 points from Obama.

On the other hand, Africa was a bright spot for Trump, with 51 percent approving his leadership, just two points lower than the year before. The survey was taken before recent reports of Trump’s disparaging remarks about some African nations.

The results are broadly consistent with a Pew Research Center survey taken last year, but Gallup highlighted the comparison with other major powers. With 41 percent approval, Germany has replaced the United States as the top-rated global power. China at 30 percent has reached nearly even footing, and Russia is barely trailing with 27 percent.

The survey conflicts with Trump’s oft-stated assertion that the world is respecting the United States more under his leadership. Instead, the Gallup reported concluded, Trump’s foreign policy and his words “have sowed doubt about the U.S. commitment to its partners abroad and called its reliability into question.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • Khmer cinema classics back on big screen for free at WB Arena’s outdoor movies series

    On a recent Saturday evening at WB Arena, Bunsong was enjoying a tasty BBQ meal with his family after work on the long tables that had been arranged out in front of the restaurant as they watched a Khmer action movie on a big outdoor

  • PM heads to Washington for ASEAN-US special summit

    Regional and international issues and how to bring the ASEAN-US partnership to another level will be discussed at length as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers arrive in Washington, DC, for a special summit on May 12-13. During the trip, Hun Sen and ASEAN

  • National Assembly refutes EU resolution

    The National Assembly (NA) has hit back at a European Parliament resolution condemning the political and human rights situation in Cambodia, calling it another display of the Parliament’s “double standards”. Key points of the resolution include a warning that the Parliament could exclude the