Donald Trump once pledged that, if elected president, he would put America first and spend no time at all worried about what the rest of the world thought about us. Mission accomplished!
A new Pew poll of 13 foreign countries reveals that perceptions of America have dropped drastically in recent years.
A few examples:
* In the United Kingdom, 83% had a favorable view of the US in 2000. Now just 41% feel the same way, the lowest number ever in Pew data.
* In Germany, just 26% now view the United States favorably – down from 78% who said the same in 2000.
* In Canada, approval for their southern neighbors has gone from 72% in 2000 to 35% now.
What explains the collapse? Well, Trump mostly. The 13 countries’ median rating on confidence in Trump to do the right thing in world affairs is just 16%. That includes a high of 25% in Japan and a low of 9% in Belgium.
Trump’s dismal ratings are closely tied to perceptions about how he has led the US during the coronavirus pandemic. Across all 13 countries, a median of a measly 15% said the US had done a good job in dealing with Covid-19.
What’s fascinating about these numbers is that both Trump allies and detractors will seize on them to prove their points.
Trump and his backers will cite the Pew data as evidence that other countries just don’t like it when the US stops letting itself be taken advantage of and stands up for itself.
“Four years ago, I ran for president because I cannot watch this betrayal of our country any longer,” Trump said in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention last month. “I could not sit by as career politicians let other countries take advantage of us on trade, borders, foreign policy and national defense.”
For Trump’s adversaries, these numbers prove how much damage he has done.
“I will be a president who will stand with our allies and friends,” pledged Democratic nominee Joe Biden in his own acceptance speech last month. “I will make it clear to our adversaries the days of cozying up to dictators are over.”
Here’s what is abundantly clear: Trump represents a fundamental break with the policies and strategic approach that every post-World War II president – regardless of party – has chosen to follow. And his muscular isolationism has consequences.
The Point: We’ve never been in this place before in the modern presidency and the post-World War II world. It’s yet another line Trump has not just crossed, but obliterated.