(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)
WASHINGTON — Faith in American leadership has plunged in many nations around the world in the months since President Trump took office, according to a new survey, underscoring the challenges facing the new president as he prepares to make his second overseas trip next week.
Just 22 percent of those interviewed outside the United States expressed confidence in Mr. Trump to do the right thing, compared with 64 percent who had similar confidence in the late stages of President Barack Obama’s administration, according to the Pew Research Center. In only two of 37 countries in the survey did Mr. Trump fare better than Mr. Obama: Russia and Israel.
“Trump and many of his key policies are broadly unpopular around the globe, and ratings for the U.S. have declined
steeply in many nations,” the center said in a report released on Monday. “The sharp decline in how much global publics trust the U.S. president on the world stage is especially pronounced among some of America’s closest allies in Europe and Asia, as well as neighboring Mexico and Canada.”
The findings come despite concerted efforts by Mr. Trump to build relationships with world leaders. On Monday, he met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India at the White House and he is scheduled to host President Moon Jae-in of South Korea for a two-day visit starting on Thursday. As president, he has brought the leaders of China and Japan to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and telephoned other world leaders dozens of times.
Next week, Mr. Trump heads to Europe to visit Poland and attend a meeting of the Group of 20 world powers in Hamburg, Germany, where he may also sit down with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia for the first time since taking office.
Mr. Trump’s first international trip, last month, won him praise from Arab and Israeli leaders in the Middle East but alienated America’s traditional allies in Europe over issues like trade, climate change and the role of NATO.
Shortly after returning to Washington, he drove a further wedge between himself and the international community when he announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord negotiated by Mr. Obama. Every other nation in the world belongs to the pact except Nicaragua, which argued that it did not go far enough, and Syria, which is consumed by civil war. And only after his return did Mr. Trump grudgingly affirm support for NATO’s Article 5 mutual defense provision, stating that an attack on one member was an attack on all.
It may come as little surprise that a president espousing an “America first” approach to the world would not be viewed favorably outside its borders, and many of Mr. Trump’s supporters are unlikely to be bothered by that — indeed, they may see it as proof that he is tending to their needs, not those of foreigners. One of Mr. Trump’s central themes both as a candidate and as president is that America has been treated unfairly by other countries, whether it be in economics, security arrangements or agreements like the Paris accord.
In that vein, he has been willing to advance policies that he argues reflect American interests even at the cost of complaints from abroad, including travel restrictions on selected predominantly Muslim countries that were partially restored by the Supreme Court on Monday, construction of a wall along the Mexican border, and withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement with Asia.
“My job is not to represent the world,” Mr. Trump said in an address to a joint session of Congress in February. “My job is to represent the United States of America.”
But it is not just his specific policy agenda that creates antipathy in other countries. Seventy-five percent of those surveyed described Mr. Trump as arrogant, 65 percent called him intolerant and 62 percent said he was dangerous. Still, in a metric that may appeal to Mr. Trump, 55 percent characterized him as a strong leader.
Despite the eroding belief in its president, the United States itself and its people and culture still retained support around the world. Majorities expressed favorable views of Americans; their music, movies and television shows; and their traditions of personal freedom, although feelings were mixed about American ideas about democracy.
The collapse in confidence in the president echoed that of the last phase of President George W. Bush’s tenure, when the Iraq war and the global financial crisis had sapped international faith in American leadership.
The falling support was most pronounced among longtime American friends. While 93 percent in Sweden had faith in Mr. Obama to do the right thing, only 10 percent had such confidence in Mr. Trump, a drop of 83 percentage points. The drop was also large in Germany and the Netherlands (75 percentage points), South Korea (71 points), France (70 points), Spain (68 points) and Britain (57 points).
In Mexico, only 5 percent expressed positive feelings about Mr. Trump, the least in any of the 37 countries. In Canada, confidence in the president fell from 83 percent to 22 percent, the lowest it has been in the 15 years that the survey has been conducted. In addition to the border wall, Mr. Trump’s threat to rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement unless it is renegotiated to his liking has soured America’s closest neighbors.
The only two places where Mr. Trump bested Mr. Obama were Israel, where 56 percent expressed faith in the current president, a seven-point rise, and Russia, where 53 percent gave Mr. Trump high marks, a 42-point rise.
The global attitudes survey, which has been conducted since 2002, surveyed 40,447 respondents from Feb. 16 to May 8.