Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 10, 2010

IMPROVED INTERNATIONAL STANDING.... We heard quite a bit during the presidential campaign about the United States losing some of its international standing during the Bush/Cheney era, and the ways in which Barack Obama could improve our reputation around the world.

The president's only been in office for a year, but the results thus far are encouraging. Gallup reported this week, "Perceptions of U.S. leadership worldwide improved significantly from 2008 to 2009. The U.S.-Global Leadership Project, a partnership between the Meridian International Center and Gallup, finds that a median of 51% of the world approves of the job performance of the current leadership of the U.S., up from a median of 34% in 2008."


The study found "significant improvements" in sentiment toward U.S. leadership in all four major global regions -- Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Africa. Gallup added, "Among the Group of Twenty (G-20) members, approval of U.S. leadership changed significantly in 16 of 17 countries where Gallup collected data before and after the Obama administration took office early last year. In 15 of these countries, approval ratings increased substantially, with increases of 39 points or more in Canada, France, and the United Kingdom."

This is the latest in a series of related studies, all of which show the United States' global standing improving considerably since Obama took office. In October, the Nation Brand Index survey found that the U.S. had reclaimed its position as the most admired country globally, up from seventh place in 2008. Similarly, in July, the Pew Global Attitudes Project found a vast improvement in international views of the United States since the president's election.

Obviously, international support can change, sometimes rapidly. But for those who hoped to see our stature improve after eight years of unpleasantness, we appear to be taking significant steps in the right direction.

Steve Benen 2:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (14)

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I'm sure that from the wingnut perspective, we are only safe when we are universally despised.

Posted by: Mark on February 10, 2010 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

That we are 'more admired' globally is just further proof that The Chosen One is intent on destroying our country and our way of life!

As a good republican and admirer of all neocon philosophy, the only true measure of American greatness is how much we are feared around the planet.

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on February 10, 2010 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

As much as people complain about Obama, I wonder what these folks thought of Bush.

The Bush years were leaderless, with corporate greed dominating all things. The lust for privatizing everything continues to this day.

The Bush years were about plundering the public coffers.

Obama offers something else.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on February 10, 2010 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, us god fearin' folk don't give a doodley-squat to what them thar forner's think about us. The USA is the best in world!

Posted by: citizen_pain on February 10, 2010 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Tom Nicholson, @15:04,

I can tell you what some of them thought; I still have family in Poland that I go to visit periodically and I also go to other European countries, for lacemaking conferences. I also correspond, extensively, with many people between visits. Between 2000 and 2004, they were, mostly, politely forgiving "how unfortunate" was the common reaction (with an outpouring of sympathy between 9/11 and March of '03 and the I-wreck invasion). But, after November '04? No more forgiving... "You must have lost your collective mind, to go for the second helping of that crap".

You wouldn't believe how many people were almost literally holding their breath in Nov of '08...

Posted by: exlibra on February 10, 2010 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

I think it is interesting that Obama is using a lot more predator drone attacks, has increased troop levels in Afgahnistan, has not closed Gitmo, has been president during the last year of world wide recession which had many causes but was strongly linked to shoddy U.S. lending practices based on a real estate bubble and U.S. stock in the world's eyes has still improved. Who would have thought that nuance and tone could be so effective?

Posted by: Terry on February 10, 2010 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Sane Americans shouldn't pay a bit of attention to this nonsense. People in other countries (a) don't have to live with the consequences of Obama's "leadership"; (b) receive information about Obama and his policies through the distorted lens of their own national media; and (c) often have perceived interests that are antithetical to those of their American counterparts. I defy anyone to set forth a rational argument as to why the average American should care what Obama's overseas approval ratings are.

Posted by: Conrad on February 10, 2010 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Uh Conrad, how about making it easier for the leaders of foreign countries to cooperate with U.S. requests like granting air space rights to supply our military or allowing U.S. businesses to set up shop? How about creating a climate where less people view anti U.S. terrorists as heroes or worse actively support them? Or how about the idea that if we are more admired maybe more nations will seek to emulate our institutions--I mean our good ones like due process not torture, democracy, not GOP gridlock, or free speech, not the inane comments of someone who has an axe to grind?

Posted by: Terry on February 10, 2010 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

"In 15 of these countries, approval ratings increased substantially, with increases of 39 points or more in Canada, France, and the United Kingdom."

Well of course the SOCIALISTS like having Obama at the helm, but what do our close CAPITALIST allies think? That's what the Rush O'Hannity crowd wants to know!

If anyone wondered why the graph only shows since 2006, they only started this poll question in 2005. Why the graph doesn't start at 2005, I don't know, but I bet the numbers were similar.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on February 10, 2010 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Terry (@16:17), answers Conrad (@16:08), with the big picture. I'll add the small one. It was damned uncomfortable to travel, as an American, anywhere in the world during Bush's time; the dislike of Bush and his policies inevitably redounded to every US citizen. It got so bad, I claimed I lived in Canada, whenever a stranger commented on my "funny" accent (after nearly 40yrs here, my Polish isn't what it used to be and my English lost most of its Brit veneer, too).

And I was just a tourist, in Europe for pleasure; I could bitch right back if I felt like it. People who travelled for business and *had to be* conciliatory had it much worse.

Posted by: exlibra on February 10, 2010 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

As citizen pain alluded colourfully above, Republicans could care less what the world thinks of America or Americans. When it comes to global leadership, they're much more of a "hold my beer, and watch this" kind of crowd. This information is nice to know, because it validates what everyone hoped and expected to see. However, it will do zip to make Republicans feel any shame at their disgraceful shenanigans, nor will it convince any of them that Obama is doing something right.

Posted by: Mark on February 10, 2010 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Trying terrorist in legitimate trials will only add to this favorable impression. Abusing them before kangaroo military courts in Guantanamo will not.

Posted by: bob h on February 10, 2010 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

Oddly, Mayor Sheldon Anderson of Wyoming. Minnesota, said this morning on MSNBC (concerning support and approval for the billboard about "missing" Bush) that America's international image is declining under Obama.

Posted by: Cindy on February 10, 2010 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if Mayor Anderson has ever travelled to the state of Wyoming, let alone outside of the United States. I suspect his "knowledge" of international affairs is confined to the misinformation he gets from Fox News Channel.

Posted by: DJ on February 11, 2010 at 5:17 AM | PERMALINK
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