Trump Ranks Lower Than Obama In Global Confidence
In just a few months, President Donald Trump has essentially turned the United States into the smelly kid in the sandbox who no one else wants to play with.
Simply put, Trump is extremely unpopular across the world, and America's image is suffering as a consequence, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center.
The survey also found views of the United States were decidedly better when Barack Obama was president, and he was far more popular as he left the White House (back in January 2017, which often feels like years ago at this point) than Trump is now.
Given Trump has repeatedly butted heads with foreign leaders, taken an extreme stance on immigration and consistently demonized Muslims, it's not that surprising to see he's less popular than Obama, who favored a more diplomatic approach to foreign affairs and generally had a more global mindset.
This crazy chart shows the massive difference between views of Trump versus Obama worldwide.
Out of all the countries polled, Trump gets higher marks than Obama in just two: Israel and Russia (shocker).
Hardly anyone around the world has confidence in Trump.
The Pew Research Center survey involved 37 countries, and a median of just 22 percent said they had confidence in Trump to do the right thing when it comes to foreign affairs.
Toward the end of Obama's presidency, however, a median of 64 percent had confidence that he to do the right thing.
Much of this can be attributed to the fact Trump's policies are extraordinarily unpopular worldwide.
Trump's desire to build a wall along the United States and Mexico border, for example, is opposed by a median of 76 percent across the 37 nations in the survey.
Meanwhile, a median of just 26 percent across the nations polled believe Trump is qualified to be president.
America is less popular worldwide under Trump.
In the final Obama years, the United States had a favorability rating of 64 percent.
Now, under Trump, that favorability rating has declined all the way to 49 percent.
As the Pew report put it,
The drop in favorability ratings for the United States is widespread. The share of the public with a positive view of the U.S. has plummeted in a diverse set of countries from Latin America, North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.
In short, Trump has done a lot of damage to America's global image in a very short period.
Why does this matter?
In the field of international relations, there is an ongoing debate about the merits of "hard power" and "soft power."
Hard power is more or less a country's ability to coerce others into doing what it wants via military force or wealth.
Soft power is the way in which a country's culture, people, and ideals help shape the world and attract people to it.
A hard power approach to a global issue would typically involve convincing a smaller, less powerful country to do something via military force (but it might also involve punishing a country economically, through sanctions, for example).
Comparatively, a soft power approach to a global issue would involve diplomacy, economic aid, and/or propaganda.
Under Trump, it seems safe to say we're going to see a major decline in soft power.
Some might say, "Who cares about soft power when we're an extremely wealthy nation with the most powerful military in the world?"
That perspective is understandable, but we also arguably don't want to live in a world where the United States only spreads influence via intimidation.
Why bully people into doing what you want when you could accomplish the same ends via peaceful means?
When people see value in America in and of itself, there's a strong case to be made that it's more beneficial to everyone.
If we want to attract the best and brightest to our shores, we need to be seen as an enlightened nation with strong values.
This is why Americans should care about how the globe views their country, because it's in their interests to be seen as a force for good in the world.
Under Trump, that simply doesn't seem to be the case at the moment.
Luckily, the Pew Research Center survey shows the American people continue to be well-regarded. Across the 37 countries polled, a median of 58 percent say they have a favorable opinion of Americans.
But, if Americans keep electing leaders with little global appeal like Trump, that could easily change.