We're Number One...Again...Sorta
Gee...I guess that "smart diplomacy is beginning to show dividends after all.
According to Gallup, we've regained our position as the least hated world power in, well, the world. Bragging rights for being the most despised world power in the world goes to Russia, with China a close second.
Of course, none of the five entities -- US, Russia, China, Germany, and the EU -- get more than 46% approval in the annual survey, which makes the honor of leading the pack somewhat dubious. Still, what with the Ukraine, Syria, Obamacare, the economy, and all the other problems facing the administration, a little bit of not-so-bad-news can't hurt.
The world felt a little better about U.S. leadership last year, giving it the highest global approval ratings out of five global powers, including Germany, China, the European Union, and Russia. For the seventh straight year, Russia had the lowest median approval ratings in the world.
Disapproval ratings of the world leaders essentially mirror the approval ratings, with the U.S. (24%) and Germany (20%) garnering the lowest median disapproval and China (29%) and Russia (31%) earning the highest disapproval. The leadership of the EU falls in the middle (26%).
Gallup asked residents in as many as 137 countries last year to say whether they approve or disapprove of the job performance of the leadership of the U.S., the EU, Germany, China, and Russia. Gallup has been tracking how the world feels about each of these international leaders since 2007, with the exception of the EU, which Gallup first measured in 2008. The image of U.S. leadership was the only one that improved between 2012 and 2013.
High Approval Ratings for All in Sub-Saharan Africa
Nearly all global powers evaluated receive their highest approval ratings from residents of countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The exception is Russia, which gets its highest marks from its neighbors (formerly Soviet Union countries). The high ratings in sub-Saharan Africa may at least be partly related to the amount of foreign aid that countries, such as the U.S., send to Africa. Researchers Benjamin Goldsmith, Yusaku Horiuchi, and Terence Wood found in a recent paper that certain types of foreign aid "positively affect[s] how publics in recipient countries regard the U.S." The commercial foothold that countries like China are getting in the region might also help explain some of these high ratings.
But despite the overall high approval ratings, some global powers are losing ground in sub-Saharan Africa. The U.S., for example, saw its ratings in the region return to their lowest level since Gallup started tracking this in 2007.
The U.S. and Germany receive their highest approval ratings in the world from the same country -- Guinea. Guinea also ranks among the top five highest scores for each of the five global powers. On the opposite end, the country that expresses the highest disapproval for nearly all global powers measured is the Palestinian Territories. Palestinians hold the highest disapproval rating in the world for the U.S., the EU, and Germany.
Maybe we should make the "Made in USA" designation on those aid containers a lot bigger.
The curious case of Germany, who appears on this list both as a single country and as part of the EU, raises some questions. When people give their opinion of the EU, are they told to forget that Germany is a part of it? Since some people believe the EU is Germany, why have a separate designation at all? Just one of the oddities of this poll.
With the anti-American propaganda machine working 24-7 all over the world, it's surprising we garner as much approval as we do in this poll. Most of the thug regimes in the world use America as a whipping boy and scapegoat the US to account for their citizens' miserable lives. And, of course, there's a lot of envy of America and fear -- both real and imagined -- of our military and what it might do.
Ultimately, only some liberals and 13-year old girls care what other nations, caught in the grip of an unreasoning and illogical anti-Americanism, think about the US. That's the price we pay for being a (declining) superpower.