Living in the Washington bubble … As The World Turns …
One year into Donald Trump’s presidency, the image of U.S. leadership is weaker worldwide than it was under his two predecessors. Median approval of U.S. leadership across 134 countries and areas stands at a new low of 30%, according to a new Gallup report.
The most recent approval rating, based on Gallup World Poll surveys conducted between March and November last year, is down 18 percentage points from the 48% approval rating in the last year of President Barack Obama’s administration, and is four points lower than the previous low of 34% in the last year of President George W. Bush’s administration.
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That poll showed that Trump has averaged just a 39% approval rating since his inauguration. The previous low was held by Bill Clinton, whose first-year average was 10 points higher than Trump’s, at 49%.
The latest study confirms some of the worst fears of foreign policy analysts in the US and Europe that Trump’s “America first” approach, combined with his volatile and irascible personality, is weakening cohesion among western democracies in the face of a growing challenge from autocracies in Russia and China, and the rise of illiberal democracies and xenophobic nationalism inside Europe.
Germany is now seen as a global leader by many more people (41% of the sample), with China in second place on 31%. Russia has 27% approval for its global role according to the poll.
One of the sharpest declines in confidence in US leadership was in the UK, where it dropped by 26 percentage points. A third of Britons questioned in the new poll expressed approval, with 63% voicing disapproval.
As part of his “America First” policy, Trump took the US out several multilateral agreements on the grounds they did not serve national interests, including the proposed Trans-Pacific trade partnership and the Paris Climate Change accord. He walked out of talks on a new trade and investment deal with Europe and has threatened to leave the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.
Approval of US leadership climbed by 10% or more in only four countries: Belarus, Israel, Macedonia and Liberia. It increased moderately in Russia, the former Soviet states in central Asia and parts of west Africa.