America’s image has worsened under Trump, shows survey

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The image of the United States has deteriorated further among its traditional allies after a year in which president Donald Trump ratcheted up his verbal attacks on countries like Canada and Germany, a leading survey showed.

The survey of 25 nations by the Pew Research Center also showed that respondents from across the globe have less confidence in Trump’s ability to lead than they do in Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping.

Since taking office in January 2017, Trump has pulled the United States out of international agreements like the Paris climate accord and Iran nuclear deal, cozied up to authoritarian leaders like Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, and criticised his neighbours and NATO allies.

In June, after a G7 summit in Canada, Trump refused to sign a joint statement with America’s allies, deriding his host, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, as “very dishonest and weak”. He has repeatedly attacked Germany for its trade surplus, low defence spending and reliance on Russian gas.

Last week, when giving a speech at the UN General Assembly in New York, Trump drew laughter from world leaders when he claimed to have achieved more in his two years in the White House than almost any other US administration in history.

The survey showed that America’s image, which took a big hit in 2017, Trump’s first year in office, continued to deteriorate in many countries in 2018, particularly in Europe.

Just 30 percent of Germans have a favourable view of the United States, down five points from last year and the lowest score in the entire survey after Russia, on 26 percent.

Only 38 percent of French and 39 percent of Canadians said they had a positive view of the United States, both down from last year. Mexico inched up slightly to 32 percent.

Faith in Merkel highest

The countries with the most positive views of the United States were Israel, the Philippines and South Korea, all at 80 percent or above. Across all countries, the US got positive marks, with 50 percent saying they had a positive view, compared to 43 percent who were negative.

Just 7 percent of Spanish, 9 percent of French and 10 percent of Germans said they had confidence in Trump’s leadership. In 20 of the 25 countries surveyed, a majority said they had no confidence in Trump.

Across all countries, an average of 27 percent of respondents said they had confidence in Trump. That compared unfavourably to Putin, on 30 percent, and Xi, on 34 percent.

German chancellor Angela Merkel was the only leader in which a majority of those surveyed, 52 percent, expressed confidence. French president Emmanuel Macron was just behind at 46 percent.

Despite Trump’s low ratings, 63 percent of respondents said the world was better off with the United States as the leading power, compared to 19 percent who preferred China in that role.

Allies took a dim view of the Trump administration’s position on civil liberties, with majorities in Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia and Mexico saying the government did not respect the personal freedoms of its people.

Reflecting Trump’s “America First” stance, substantial majorities in 19 of the 25 countries surveyed said the United States did not take their interests into account when making international policy.

The survey was conducted between May and August, and based on interviews with over 900 people in each of the surveyed countries.

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