Poll: 74 per­cent out­side U.S. view Trump poorly

President called ‘strong’ even by crit­ics

The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD - BY NI­COLE AULT

President Trump may not be pop­u­lar around the world, but that may not be the end of the world.

A new Pew Re­search Cen­ter sur­vey of 37 for­eign coun­tries found that 74 per­cent of for­eign ci­ti­zens polled are not con­fi­dent that President Trump will do the right thing, and nearly four in 10 have an un­fa­vor­able view of the United States — both sig­nif­i­cantly higher fig­ures than those re­ported when the poll was last ad­min­is­tered un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

But pan­elists dis­cussing the re­sults at a crowded Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion brief­ing Tues­day called for cau­tion about us­ing the polls to pre­dict a de­cline in Amer­i­can power or new for­eign pol­icy prob­lems. For in­stance, Mr. Trump was seen as a “strong leader” even in coun­tries where his per­sonal rat­ings were low.

“The world doesn’t end with th­ese changes” in the pop­u­lar­ity of a given U.S. president, said Shadi Hamid, se­nior fel­low of the project on U.S. re­la­tions with the Is­lamic world at the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion.

“I take sur­veys with a kilo of salt,” said Con­stanze Stelzen­muller, a se­nior fel­low at the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion’s Cen­ter on the United States and Europe. She re­minded the au­di­ence that there has been “whip­saw­ing” in pres­i­dents’ global rat­ings over pre­vi­ous decades.

Mr. Hamid noted that rat­ings for Mr. Trump in some coun­tries are higher than they were dur­ing some years of Barack Obama’s pres­i­dency, and that good rank­ings don’t nec­es­sar­ily trans­late to good poli­cies.

“Peo­ple’s at­ti­tudes to­ward the U.S. are very com­plex, and there’s sort of a love-hate re­la­tion­ship,” said Mr. Hamid, ques­tion­ing the abil­ity of “bi­nary” poll ques­tions to un­earth peo­ple’s opin­ions. He joked that some peo­ple might pre­fer to write an es­say in an­swer to the poll ques­tions.

Richard Wike, di­rec­tor of global at­ti­tudes re­search at the Pew Re­search Cen­ter, noted that opin­ions of President Trump don’t nec­es­sar­ily track with opin­ions of the U.S. over­all. Ac­cord­ing to the poll, many peo­ple over­seas still have a pos­i­tive opin­ion of the na­tion’s ci­ti­zens and cul­ture, and be­lieve that re­la­tions with the U.S. will stay the same.

“Cer­tain [re­sults of the poll] high­light re­siliency in Amer­ica’s im­age,” said Mr. Wike. “Peo­ple still tend to like a lot of things about the U.S. even when they’re not happy with the ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

Mr. Hamid noted, too, that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion does not rep­re­sent just one for­eign pol­icy. Dif­fer­ent mem­bers have dif­fer­ent opin­ions on how to deal with in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions.

Pol­i­cy­mak­ers’ sep­a­ra­tion from the president is im­por­tant, said Ms. Stelzen­muller: “Even when there’s huge tur­bu­lence at the of­fi­cial level, pol­i­cy­mak­ers move closer to­gether.”

The poll re­sults might be a cause for con­cern in Asia, said Ely Rat­ner, a se­nior fel­low in China Stud­ies at the Coun­cil on For­eign Re­la­tions. As coun­tries make trade de­ci­sions, un­fa­vor­able views of the U.S. and the new ad­min­is­tra­tion could help fuel China’s grow­ing eco­nomic dom­i­nance in the re­gion.

“If the U.S. does want to lead in Asia, the op­por­tu­nity is still there,” said Mr. Rat­ner. But he said a shift in the bal­ance of power to­ward Bei­jing could trans­form the re­gion in a “fun­da­men­tal way.”

Over­all, how­ever, the pan­elists were op­ti­mistic that the U.S.’ in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions are not doomed to suf­fer un­der the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“It’s quite dif­fi­cult to com­pletely rip apart this fab­ric of relationships” be­tween the U.S. and other coun­tries, said Ms. Stelzen­muller. “Th­ese relationships are so much big­ger than one sin­gle gov­ern­ment that this too shall pass.”

Other re­sults of the Global At­ti­tudes Sur­vey in­cluded:

● Rus­sia and Is­rael are the only coun­tries that re­ported greater con­fi­dence in Mr. Trump than they did in Mr. Obama. Mex­ico re­ported the great­est de­cline in U.S. fa­vor­a­bil­ity since the last Global At­ti­tudes Sur­vey, with 65 per­cent re­port­ing an un­fa­vor­able opin­ion of the United States.

● 76 per­cent of re­spon­dents said they dis­ap­prove of Mr. Trump’s pro­posal to build a wall on the U.S.-Mex­i­can bor­der.

● 55 per­cent of re­spon­dents said they think Mr. Trump is a strong leader, a be­lief that was held even in some coun­tries where ci­ti­zens re­ported a very neg­a­tive opin­ion of the president over­all.

● 58 per­cent of re­spon­dents re­ported a fa­vor­able view of Amer­i­cans, and 65 per­cent said they like Amer­i­can mu­sic, movies and tele­vi­sion.


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