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Global Study Finds Lack of Confidence in US Leadership

2019-2-28

A new study by Gallup shows fewer people believe in American leadership around the world. With only 31 percent approval, the United States' rating is lower than Germany and China -- and in a tie with Russia.

It shows international views of American leadership remained about the same in the second year of Donald Trump’s presidency. It dropped 18 points during Trump’s first year.

Gallup has been carrying out the research since 2007. The 2018 study was released Thursday. It examined the answers of people from 133 countries.

The report suggests that people around the world no longer believe in America’s international commitments. It says “the unpredictability of the U.S. president in now somewhat expected.”

Both China and Russia gained in the new study. China’s median approval rating rose to 34 percent and Russia’s rating reached 30 percent. Russia and China’s approval ratings increased in nations where the U.S. decreased, including Mexico and Turkey.

Germany received the highest median approval rating, at 39 percent. But it was Germany’s first rating below 40 percent in ten years.

Jon Clifton is Gallup’s Global Managing Partner. He said in the report that Trump’s “America First” policy was not winning friends around the world. It also said that Trump has taken many unpopular decisions since he took office. These include pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal. It also includes Trump’s trade wars with Europe and China.

Clifton said that the effects of Trump’s actions will hurt American interests abroad. He pointed to research from Dartmouth College and the University of Sydney that found “public opinion about U.S. foreign policy in foreign countries does affect their policies toward the U.S.”

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend a joint news conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, Feb. 27, 2019.
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend a joint news conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, Feb. 27, 2019.

In Europe

The report said the U.S.'s leadership image is very poor in Europe. Its disapproval rating was 59 percent, up three points from 2017.

While Europeans’ view of American leadership was low, their view of Russian leadership was even lower, at 21 percent. They equally disliked the leadership of Russia and the United States. Nearly six in 10 Europeans disapproved of the leadership of the two countries.

Europeans had the highest rating for Germany’s leadership, with 56 percent approving.

In the Americas

The U.S. leadership rating increased in the Americas from 24 percent to 31 percent. Last year, the U.S. renegotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. Those two countries had two of the highest disapproval numbers for American leadership. Seventy-nine percent of Canadians and 74 percent of Mexicans disapproved of U.S. leadership in 2018.

The approval numbers for the U.S., Germany, China and Russia, were roughly the same in the Americas. But the disapproval rating for the United States at 53 percent was much higher than the other countries.

In Asia

In Asia, the approval of U.S. leadership increased slightly since last year, but it was still very low at 32 percent. The majorities of just five countries, Israel, the Philippines, Mongolia, Nepal and Myanmar, approved of American leadership.

Gallup said the two things that probably hurt the U.S. image most in the region were the trade war with China and the withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

China’s approval rating was only a little higher at 34 percent. Russia came in at 32 and Germany at 36.

In Africa

American image was strongest in Africa, the Gallup study said. More than half of Africans in the study viewed American leadership favorably.

The countries with the most favorable view of the leadership of the United States were Togo, Guinea, Niger and Ghana. Africans also had a favorable view of China, which has invested heavily in the continent.

I'm Susan Shand.

VOA News reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

median – adj. the middle value in a series of values arranged from smallest to largest

accord - n. an agreement

favorably - adv. with approval