For some reason.
Pew Global Attitudes Project: Much of the world cheered the November 6 re-election of U.S. president Barack Obama. But the president’s honeymoon may be short lived. Disappointment with Obama’s first term foreign policy may challenge both his popularity and his ability to present a positive image of the United States around the globe.
Prior to the election, overwhelming majorities in Western Europe, Japan and Brazil supported Obama’s reelection. But they were upset with signature elements of his foreign policy. In particular, a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project earlier this year found widespread opposition to drone strikes, a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s anti-terrorism policy, and many believe the president hasn’t sought international approval before using military force, as they expected he would when he first took office. In addition, publics around the globe say Obama failed to meet their expectations that he would tackle climate change and take an even-handed approach to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Four years ago, Obama came to office with the world behind him, reversing a decade-long trend of negative opinions of the U.S. Between 2008 and 2009, the percentage of Germans, French, Spanish and Indonesians expressing positive views of the U.S. increased by at least 25 percentage points, and double-digit increases were also evident in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Britain, India and Nigeria. Even in some Muslim countries, where Obama has never enjoyed broad popularity, the image of the U.S. saw modest improvements in Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon when Obama was first elected.
But clouds loom on the horizon, as overall approval of Obama’s international policies and confidence in the American president have declined around the globe since 2009. Among Obama’s biggest problems is his administration’s drone campaign against extremist leaders and organizations. Majorities in virtually every country surveyed in 2012 oppose this policy, which is a key component of American anti-terrorism efforts. Opposition is especially prevalent in Muslim countries – at least eight-in-ten in Egypt, Jordan and Turkey are against drone strikes – but about three-quarters in Spain, Japan, Mexico and Brazil are also against drones, as are 63% in France and 59% in Germany.
Obama is now confronted with a sense of disappointment over unmet expectations during his first term, especially when it comes to his handling of global climate change, and especially in Western Europe. In 2009, large majorities in France, Germany, Britain and Spain believed Obama would take significant measures to control climate change. By Spring 2012, however, fewer than three-in-ten in these countries said Obama had, in fact, done this. Significant gaps between expectations and evaluations of Obama’s performance on climate change were also evident in Poland, Russia, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, China, Japan, and Mexico.
In Western Europe, Obama also failed to meet expectations on his handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Although 61% in Germany, 57% in France, and nearly half in Britain still believed Obama had been fair in dealing with both sides in the Spring 2012, as many as 79% in each of these three countries said they expected Obama to be even-handed on this issue at the beginning of this first term.
In most of the predominantly Muslim countries surveyed, where expectations that Obama would be fair in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were already low in 2009, even fewer said the American president had handled the conflict fairly. For example, after Obama took office, about a quarter of Egyptians believed he would be fair, compared with 11% who said Obama had been fair in 2012. Double-digit gaps between expectations and evaluations were also evident in Turkey and Pakistan.
A new poll conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs shows an overwhelming opposition to the idea of attacking Iran among American voters, with 70 percent saying they are opposed to the idea of a unilateral US attack on Iran.
The poll showed a declining number of Americans considering Iran’s civilian nuclear program a “threat” to American interests, and solid majorities opposed US involvement in an Iran war authorized by the UN or in joining an Israeli attack on Iran.
Perhaps the biggest shift in sheer numbers was in ground attacks on terrorist training camps. In 2002 the poll showed an 82 percent majority wanting such attacks, while now that has shrunk to only 54 percent.
The shift reflects Americans’ increasing desire to stay out of international adventures, coming just months before a US presidential election in which both candidates are taking hawkish positions.
Even with the passage of a sort of healthcare reform, the ludicrously and optimistically named Affordable Care Act, most Americans still tell pollsters that they would prefer a Canadian-style plan in which the government provides health insurance coverage for all, paid for by taxation. For decades this has been true. In 1988, a Harvard University/Harris poll found 61% favoring a Canadian-style so-called “single-payer” healthcare system. By 1990, the LA Times found support for such a system had risen to 66%, while in 1991, the Wall Street Journal found public support had reached an astonishing 69%. In 2003, the Washington Post and ABC-TV found 62% in favor of extending Medicare, the government health program for those over 65, to cover everyone. In 2007, despite decades of anti-government ideological rhetoric, CNN found that 64% favored government health insurance for all. In 2009, as the Obama administration was flat-out refusing to even discuss the idea of Medicare-for-all, or a Canadian-style health program, the Kaiser Family Foundation, which is associated with a private health insurance organization, found 58% of Americans nonetheless were in favor of a Canadian-style health program. So far, however, neither the President nor Congress or either of the country’s two political parties will even consider a national health program.
The survey, the most detailed to date on the public response to weather extremes, comes atop other polling showing a recent uptick in concern about climate change. Read together, the polls suggest that direct experience of erratic weather may be convincing some people that the problem is no longer just a vague and distant threat.
The survey also found that a majority of Americans could now find their asses (although this still requires the use of both hands and a GPS).
Some of the more important highlights of the survey that are included in the preliminary report are:
Answers show that a clear majority of Arabs support a democratic form of government, believing in the importance of a transfer of power.
Most respondents describe themselves as religious, while rejecting clerical influence in politics.
71 percent of respondents expressed faith in their countries’ armies; 47 percent trust their governments (the executive arms of), and 36 percent showed trust in their countries’ legislative bodies before the revolutions.
83 percent of respondents say that corruption is widespread in their countries.
Only 19 percent of respondents believe that their countries’ legal systems treat all citizens equitably.
73 percent of respondents believe that Israel and the US are the two countries presenting the largest threat to the security of the Arab world, with 51 percent believing that Israel is the most threatening, 22 percent believe the US is the most threatening, and 5 percent reporting a belief that Iran is the single country most threatening to the security of their countries. The results on this question vary from one Arab country to another.
84 percent believe the Palestinian cause to be a cause for all Arabs, and not solely a Palestinian issue.
67 percent of respondents believe that present levels of intra-Arab cooperation are not satisfactory.
Roughly three-quarters support lifting travel and trade restrictions between Arab countries, the establishment of joint Arab military forces, and a unified monetary system. This highlights the similar belief, uncovered by this survey and shared by a clear majority of the respondents, which holds that citizens of all Arab states belong to a unitary Arab nation.
Most respondents supported the Egyptian and the Tunisian revolutions.
Most respondents attributed the revolutions to corruption, dictatorship and the lack of justice and equality.
84 percent of respondents are opposed to their countries’ diplomatic recognition of Israel, with only 21 percent of respondents expressing support for the peace agreements signed with the Israelis by Jordan, Egypt, and Palestine.
55 percent support having the Middle East declared a nuclear-weapons-free zone, compared to 29 percent who would oppose such a move. The majority of the 55 percent believe that Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons justifies possession of such weapons by other countries in the region.
- To view the Executive Summary click here
A shiny example of why party loyalty (and blind nationalism) is so destructive:
The Post has just released some new polling that demonstrates very strong support for Obama’s counterterrorism policies, including 83 percent of Americans approving of his use of drone strikes against terror suspects overseas.
This finding, however, is particularly startling:
What if those suspected terrorists are American citizens living in other countries? In that case do you approve or disapprove of the use of drones?
The number of those who approve of the drone strikes drops nearly 20 percent when respondents are told that the targets are American citizens. But that 65 percent is still a very big number, given that these policies really should be controversial.
And get this: Depressingly, Democrats approve of the drone strikes on American citizens by 58-33, and even liberals approve of them, 55-35. Those numbers were provided to me by the Post polling team.
It’s hard to imagine that Dems and liberals would approve of such policies in quite these numbers if they had been authored by George W. Bush.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its refusal to release information regarding the drone strike program. The lawsuit demands documents detailing the legal rationale for the fact that “media reports reveal that at least three American citizens have been killed over the last four months by unmanned aerial vehicles — commonly known as `drones’ — on the basis of unilateral decisions made by the executive branch.”
There’s just nothing good about this at all. It speaks to my greatest fears as we become a nation not divided over ethics or morality, but over teams like life is a god damned sporting event. Meanwhile, we’ve dehumanized the unpeople of entire races, cultures and religions to the point where we as a nation (liberals and conservatives) are perfectly comfortable blowing them to smithereens simply because our government assures us, usually with no supporting evidence or even a judicial review, that they are bad guys. What an absolute shame.