Pew Poll: Obama World Support Drops, US Only Nation Approving Drone Strikes – OpEd


A new Pew poll of world opinion finds that approval of Pres. Obama outside the U.S. has dropped precipitously since he took office:

The 2009 Pew Global Attitudes survey found that many believed the new American president would act multilaterally, seek international approval before using military force, take a fair approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and make progress on climate change. As the current survey reveals, few now believe he has actually accomplished these things.

Views of the U.S. in general have fallen as well among the 21 nations polled, though not as heavily.  Though views of the U.S. remain somewhat higher than they were during the Bush era.  Nevertheless, in a few Muslim nations opinion of the U.S. has fallen even lower than during Bush’s presidency.  In Pakistan, only 7% have a positive view of Obama (for obvious reasons).

Confidence in Obama dropped most heavily in China, Japan and Mexico.  Though confidence in him dropped considerably, for obvious reasons, in Muslim countries the decline was slightly less steep among them.  Approval of the president’s international policies showed the steepest drops (ranging from 15-30%) in these countries as well, and also Russia.

Nowhere does the divide between U.S. and international opinion display itself more prominently than on the question of drone strikes.  In the U.S. over 60% approved of them.  In no other country polled was there a majority favoring the counter-terror tactic.  In Russia, Japan, Spain, Mexico, China, Italy and France disapproval rates ranged from 55% to 76%.  In Muslim countries the rates of disapproval were even higher.

In 2009, the world eagerly anticipated Obama’s role in bringing Middle East peace.  But the belief that he’s been even-handed concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has plunged between 20-40% in countries like Japan (the highest drop), Spain, Germany, France and Britain.  Even in the U.S. itself, Obama’s rating dropped 17%.

Another major disappointment around the world has been an anticipation of U.S. multilateralism in foreign affairs:

…In 2009, many publics anticipated that the U.S. leader would consider their country’s interests when making foreign policy decisions and would seek international approval before using military force. Today, relatively few believe Obama has done either.

Roughly two-thirds of Americans (66%) think Obama has considered other countries’ interests when making policy decisions over the past three years, but few around the world agree.

Many of these nations now perceive China as the world’s most important economic power.  Though U.S. economic and political decline began in earnest under George Bush, Obama has done little to reverse the trend.

This article appeared at Tikun Olam

Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

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