The Stunning Collapse of American Influence

A recent Pew Research poll shows how badly the United States’s reputation has eroded in Asia and across he world. The stunning collapse of American influence due to Donald Trump’s policies and perceived mismanagement of the Coronavirus Pandemic will have serious implication on US relations for years to come.

Since Donald Trump took office as president, the image of the United States has suffered across many regions of the globe. As a new 13-nation Pew Research Center survey illustrates, America’s reputation has declined further over the past year among many key allies and partners. In several countries, the share of the public with a favorable view of the U.S. is as low as it has been at any point since the Center began polling on this topic nearly two decades ago.

Part of the decline over the past year is linked to how the U.S. had handled the coronavirus pandemic. Across the 13 nations surveyed, a median of just 15% say the U.S. has done a good job of dealing with the outbreak. In contrast, most say the World Health Organization (WHO) and European Union have done a good job, and in nearly all nations people give their own country positive marks for dealing with the crisis (the U.S. and UK are notable exceptions). Relatively few think China has handled the pandemic well, although it still receives considerably better reviews than the U.S. response.

Ratings for U.S. President Donald Trump have been low in these nations throughout his presidency, and that trend continues this year. Trump’s most negative assessment is in Belgium, where only 9% say they have confidence in the U.S. president to do the right thing in world affairs. His highest rating is in Japan; still, just one-quarter of Japanese express confidence in Trump.

Attitudes toward Trump have consistently been much more negative than those toward his predecessor, Barack Obama, especially in Western Europe. In the UK, Spain, France and Germany, ratings for Trump are similar to those received by George W. Bush near the end of his presidency.

The publics surveyed also see Trump more negatively than other world leaders. Among the six leaders included on the survey, Angela Merkel receives the highest marks: A median of 76% across the nations polled have confidence in the German chancellor. French President Emmanuel Macron also gets largely favorable reviews. Ratings for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson are roughly split. Ratings for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping are overwhelmingly negative, although not as negative as those for Trump.

Pew Research Center surveys have found mixed or relatively negative views of the U.S. in Canada and Western Europe since 2017 and the beginning of the Trump administration. In the current survey, views of the U.S. have deteriorated further, with a median of only 34% across the 13 countries surveyed expressing a positive view.

Roughly one-third of Canadians (35%) view their neighbor to the south positively. A similar share across Europe holds this view (median of 33%), though favorable opinions range from a low of roughly a quarter in Belgium (24%) and Germany (26%) to a high of about four-in-ten or more in the UK (41%) and Italy (45%).

Many in Australia and Japan have an unfavorable opinion of the U.S., while South Korea stands out as the only country surveyed where a majority (59%) views the U.S. positively.

The current survey shows a substantial dip in ratings of the U.S. since 2019. Japan saw the largest drop, with only 41% expressing a positive view in 2020, compared with 68% in 2019. Every other country surveyed in both years saw a decrease of between 12 and 18 percentage points since the previous year.

Views of the U.S. generally shift in tandem with confidence in the American president. Favorable views of the U.S. dropped sharply in 2017 during President Trump’s first year in office and have decreased further in every country surveyed in both years except Spain. A larger share of Spaniards view the U.S. positively in 2020 (40%) than in 2017 (31%), though fewer hold this view now than during Obama’s presidency.

Positive views of the U.S. are at or near an all-time low in most countries for which trends are available. However, Spain and Italy had less positive views of the U.S. before the start of the Iraq War in March 2003 than they currently do. Favorable opinions were also lower in South Korea in the same year.

The stunning collapse of American influence due to Donald Trump will impact US relationships, it’s economic, military and moral power for a long time to come. Some observers say the US will never recover. A lot of experts in Asia say the days of American exceptionalism are now gonna. We are entering a whole new world.