January 22, 2018
During President Donald Trump’s first year in office, the number of nations and territories where majorities of the population disapproved of U.S. leadership more than tripled—from 15 in 2016 to a record 53 in 2017—based on findings of a Gallup poll of 1,000 adults in each country released on January 19.
Interestingly enough, the people of Norway—whom Trump recently said would be among the most welcome immigrants to America—have the lowest opinion of U.S. leadership, at 83% disapproval.
Indeed, during the past year, Norwegians disapproved more strongly of U.S. leadership than they did of the ruling class of China (66%) or of Russia (78%)—a country that Norway has generally considered its top security threat
While Gallup’s Rating World Leaders: 2018 report finds disapproval of U.S. leadership in Pakistan and the Palestinian Territories remaining high year after year, many countries with typically warm relations with America ranked among its toughest critics in 2017.
Among the 15 countries with the highest levels of disapproval in 2017 were Western nations and close allies, including Canada, Mexico, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, New Zealand, Belgium and the Netherlands.
On the campaign trail, Trump first set off alarm bells among longtime European allies when he referred to NATO as “obsolete,” Gallup notes. While the president later affirmed that he no longer viewed NATO as passé, relations between the new U.S. administration and U.S. allies have continued to deteriorate; as they continue to disagree with President Trump on issues such as the Paris climate accord, the Iran nuclear agreement and recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Until the president’s comments about nixing immigration from “s**thole countries” went viral, support for U.S. leadership remained consistently higher among African countries than those in other regions.
At the time of the survey—conducted between March and November 2017— Africa was home to 11 of the 15 countries most likely to approve of U.S. leadership in 2017. At least two in three adults give their approval in Guinea (71%), Togo (70%), Central African Republic (68%) and Ghana (66%).
In Israel, approval of U.S. leadership has been relatively high since Gallup began asking about it in 2006 but experienced a significant jump in 2017, increasing from 53% to 67%. Polling in Israel was completed before the U.S. announcement to move its embassy to Jerusalem. However, Trump’s campaign promise that he would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his agreement with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the need to renegotiate the Iran nuclear deal may have found support among some Israelis.
Based on the data, Gallup believes, “The presence of many Western and allied countries among those most disapproving of the U.S. is a practical concern. In the post-World War II era, the U.S. has leaned on its many powerful partners to assist it in affecting issues beyond its borders time and again. Large declines in the image of U.S. leadership among traditional allies could threaten the country’s ability to mobilize its most reliable partners needed in the pursuit of its foreign policy objectives.”
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