Does our national reputation matter to our national interest? Is the United States stronger, safer, and better able to advance its principles and goals when other nations view us favorably?
If so, then data from the Pew Research Center show that President Barack Obama has carried out a more successful Presidency than President George W. Bush.
President Bush took the relatively strong favorability ratings with Poland, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Germany left him by President Bill Clinton and the placid 1990s and drove them all down during his eight years in office. President Obama immediately restored a lot of confidence in the U.S. and has mostly sustained that improved favorability rating with our allies.
But don’t think that the improvement in our ratings comes from Marxist Obama pandering to Euro-Lefties. In France, Sweden, Greece, Australia, Spain, the U.K., and Canada, Pew finds that the U.S. is significantly more popular among right-wingers than left-wingers:
One area where the Obama Administration has been losing overseas confidence is our support for personal freedoms:
Our greatest strength is our principles. One of our greatest American principles is our support for personal freedom, something we’ve generally upheld better than any of our enemies (the Confederacy, Nazis, Soviets, al-Qaeda and ISIS). When other nations don’t see the American government defending personal freedoms, we lose serious clout.
Returning to my opening question, President Obama’s restoration of other nations’ favorable perceptions of the United States do not appear to correlate with other nations’ perceptions of our power:
Among fifteen nations surveyed, ten have larger percentages of respondents who think the U.S. is less important and powerful as a world leader today compared to a decade ago than think we have more global influence.
Note that in all of those countries except for Japan, a majority of citizens say that U.S. global influence has either remained the same or increased over the last ten years. All of those countries except for Greece have majorities who are confident in President Obama’s ability to do the right thing in world affairs. None of those fifteen countries have the same level of confidence in Hillary Clinton… but the world’s confidence in Donald Trump’s ability to do global policy right is abysmal:
No matter what confidence other nations have in President Obama and Hillary Clinton to be leaders of the free world, they have far less in Donald Trump. The only nations with more than 20% confidence in Trump are Italy and China… both of which have their own unpleasant experiences with dictators.