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Good News: International Confidence in American Leadership Has Plummeted

They’re not laughing “with” him

protesters rally and march to Trafalgar Square protesting against Donald Trump

Tens of thousands of protesters rally and march to Trafalgar Square protesting against Donald Trump, 2018.

Dinendra Haria/Shutterstock

When President Trump spoke in front of the UN General Assembly late last month, he could barely get through a paragraph before the congregation of world leaders started mocking at him. “In less than two years my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country,” Trump said to laughs. It was an embarrassing rebuke of a president who has bragged about how much America is respected now that he is in charge. Trump would claim at a press conference the next day that the world leaders were actually laughing with him, not at him. Yes, he literally said this. “People had a good time with me,” he went on. “We were doing it together. We had a good time. They respect what I’ve done. The United States is respected again.”

But it didn’t take the UN laughing at the president’s absurd claims to realize that the United States has become the butt of the jokes, or that the international community’s confidence in America’s ability to lead has plummeted since he took office. Trump has started a global trade war, recklessly pulled America out of multilateral agreements, praised dictators and made a routine out of denigrating the nation’s closest allies. Claiming that America is respected again may be one of his most outrageous delusions, which, of course, is really saying something.

If any more proof was required, the nonpartisan Pew Research Global data firm released a report earlier this month detailing America’s global image under Trump. As expected, it’s not so hot, at least according to the 25 countries surveyed.

Among the other startling-but-not-startling revelations from the report…

  • 70 percent of the countries surveyed do not have confidence in President Trump.
  • At least 60 percent of people in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Hungary and the U.K. have “no confidence” President Trump will do the right thing regarding world affairs. The number is over 90 percent in France, Germany and Spain.
  • Only 27 percent of the countries surveyed have confidence President Trump will do the right thing regarding world affairs. He trails Germany’s Angela Merkel (52 percent), France’s Emmanuel Macron (46), China’s Xi Jinping (34) and Russia’s Vladimir Putin (30).
  • 70 percent of the countries surveyed feel the U.S. takes the interests of others countries into account “not too much” or “not at all.”
  • 70 percent of the countries surveyed say China has a more important role in the world than it did a decade ago, while only 31 percent feel the same about the U.S.
  • Mexico opposes Trump more strongly than any other nation, with only 6 percent of people holding a favorable view of the president. 66 percent of people say U.S.-Mexico relations have worsened in the past 12 months.
  • Only 39 percent of Canadians have a favorable opinion of the U.S., the lowest number since Pew started polling the nation in 2002.

Though Trump is mostly to blame, a good deal of the responsibility for the world’s poor view of the United States falls on UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who announced on Tuesday that she will resign at the end of the year. It’s unclear what prompted the decision, although it appears to be an amicable split. She and Trump praised each other at length while speaking to reporters in the Oval Office on Tuesday. The refrain was familiar. “Look at what has happened in two years with the United States on foreign policy,” Haley said. “Now, the United States is respected.”

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