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Global Confidence in President Obama Much Higher Than Bush

July 28, 2014

With the overlapping crises in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel, Republicans trying to pin the blame on President Obama are singing the same sound bite in unison. As Mitt Romney put it earlier this year:

Our esteem around the world has fallen. I can't think of a major country, it's hard to think of a single country that has greater respect and admiration for America today than it did five years ago when Barack Obama became president. And that's a very sad, unfortunate state of affairs.

Of course, what's really sad (sadder even than candidate Romney's inability to tell CNN's Donna Brazile and PBS's Gwen Ifill apart) is that Obama's would-have-been replacement has reality exactly backwards. As it turns out, polls have shown that almost every major country has more respect for Barack Obama now than for his predecessor, George W. Bush.

As the New York Times reported this week, even with the revelations about U.S. eavesdropping that has soured relations with Germany and Brazil, America's image has not been harmed.

It almost seems as if President Obama has run into nothing but trouble overseas, facing criticism over electronic eavesdropping, drone strikes and his handling of regional conflicts. Yet the image of the president, and of the United States, have suffered little harm, according to a Pew Global Attitudes survey...
Attitudes toward Mr. Obama's handling of foreign policy are generally positive in the Western European, Asian and African countries surveyed, but opinion is divided in Latin America. Other than Israelis, few in the Middle East have confidence in his leadership...
In most countries, Mr. Obama is no longer held in the same high regard as he was just after his inauguration in January 2009. But his standing is still in sharp contrast with views of the American president eight years ago, when George W. Bush received relatively low marks. The overall image of the United States during that time was also fairly negative, as there was broad opposition to the war in Iraq.

To see just how negative, check out the results of Pew's Global Attitudes Survey in 2008. The change in confidence each nation had in the U.S. President in six years is staggering. By 2014, France jumped from 13 percent under to Bush to 83 percent under Obama. The UK leaped from 16 to 74 percent, Germany from 14 to 71 percent and Japan to 60 percent from 25.
Barack Obama may have 99 problems right now, but a lack of respect from the international community isn't one of them.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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