Trump sours world’s view of the US
President regarded as dangerous
US PRESIDENT Donald Trump has alarmed citizens of the nation’s closest allies and others worldwide, diminishing the standing of the US in their eyes, according to a wide-ranging international study.
With remarkable speed, Trump’s presidency has taken a toll on the image of the US abroad.
The international survey by the Pew Research Center found that favourable ratings of the US have decreased from 64% of people across all countries surveyed at the end of Barack Obama’s presidency to 49% in the past few months.
The new figures are similar to those towards the end of the George W Bush administration.
The president himself has fared even worse.
A median of 22% are confident that Trump will do the right thing in global affairs, down from 64% who had confidence in Obama.
From Chile to Italy, from Sweden to Japan, majorities consider the president arrogant, intolerant, unqualified and dangerous. On the flip side, most view him as a strong leader. And many expect their country’s relationship with the US to withstand his presidency.
“America’s image has taken hits in recent years, from the decision to invade Iraq, to the events of 2007 and 2008, when the American financial model took a huge hit,” said Frank G Wisner, a former diplomat who served under both Democrats and Republicans.
“But the most consequential is the ascent of Mr Trump to the Oval Office.”
The depths of disapproval registered abroad suggest that Trump has undone the progress Obama made in burnishing the American brand. It took Bush eight years, and the quagmire in Iraq, to notch such dismal ratings overseas, according to Pew. It has taken Trump six months.
His unpopularity is the result of a mix of disagreement with his signature policy objectives, such as building a wall along the US-Mexico border, and distaste for his character, according to Pew’s analysis of poll results.
Among other world leaders studied by Pew, German Chancellor Angela Merkel receives relatively high marks. The share of people who report little or no confidence in her – a median of 31% across 37 countries – is less than half that for Trump, at 74% .
The survey also found that 59% lack confidence in Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trust in the American president plummeted most in some of the US’s closest allies in Europe and Asia, as well as in the countries it borders, Canada and Mexico. In only two countries, Russia and Israel, does Trump receive a higher score than Obama.
Since 2002, when Pew began examining America’s image abroad, perceptions of the US have run in parallel with judgements about the country’s president. Opinions of the US have improved in Russia, as confidence in the president rose from 11% towards the end of Obama’s two terms to 53% under Trump.
Germans hold some of the most negative opinions of the US, with 62% viewing the country unfavourably and 87% lacking confidence in Trump.
Meanwhile, the UN’s top rights official accused Trump of breaking taboos by suggesting bringing back torture, and warned world powers against undermining civil liberties in their fight against militants.
Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein also lambasted British Prime Minister Theresa May for threatening to change human rights laws if they got in the way of security operations, saying her words would give heart to authoritarian governments.
The UN high commissioner for human rights said on Monday that strident statements in the wake of attacks risked undermining international rights treaties.
Trump said in January he thought the practice of waterboarding a form of simulated drowning – was a way to gather intelligence. – Additional reporting by Reuters –
US President Donald Trump.