Joe Biden’s botched Afghanistan withdrawal hasn’t just hurt his approval ratings here at home. It is also killing America’s reputation abroad.
Many believed that Donald Trump had damaged the United States’ standing in the world and that we needed Joe Biden to restore our image.
“Trump’s impeachment and holding the insurrectionists to account provide a solid platform for President Biden and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to enact a values-led, people-centered foreign policy,” wrote Cynthia Schneider back in January. “One that acknowledges the links between US standing abroad and behavior at home, and is backed by actions that demonstrate that the United States can still champion human rights and democracy.”
“Can Joe Biden repair America’s reputation abroad?” asked Dorothy Wickenden in The New Yorker.
Joe Biden himself claimed he and he alone could repair the damage allegedly done by Trump. “By nearly every measure, the credibility and influence of the United States in the world have diminished since President Barack Obama and I left office on January 20, 2017,” Biden wrote last year in Foreign Affairs. “As president, I will take immediate steps to renew U.S. democracy and alliances, protect the United States’ economic future, and once more have America lead the world.”
“The next U.S. president will have to address the world as it is in January 2021, and picking up the pieces will be an enormous task. He or she will have to salvage our reputation, rebuild confidence in our leadership, and mobilize our country and our allies to rapidly meet new challenges,” Biden continued. “There will be no time to lose.”
“Diplomacy also requires credibility, and Trump has shattered ours,” he added. “In the conduct of foreign policy, and especially in times of crisis, a nation’s word is its most valuable asset. By pulling out of treaty after treaty, reneging on policy after policy, walking away from U.S. responsibilities, and lying about matters big and small, Trump has bankrupted the United States’ word in the world.”
These words must haunt Joe Biden now. According to the latest Morning Consult poll, the chaos in Afghanistan has “taken a toll on America’s reputation in half of the 14 foreign countries” that they track “with one of the steepest drops seen in one of its closest allies.”
“Since Aug. 14, the day before Kabul fell to the Taliban, global Morning Consult Political Intelligence data shows that sentiment about the United States has worsened outside the margin of error in seven nations. One of the largest hits to the United States’ reputation came among residents of the United Kingdom — a country that contributed mightily to the U.S.-led war effort for the past 20 years and has pushed back on the hasty withdrawal.”
America’s reputation has fallen ten points in the United Kingdom, seven points in Spain, eight points in Japan, nine points in Italy, and eight points in Brazil. America’s reputation has fallen three points in Germany, India, and Mexico.
Bizarrely, two countries have shown a net increase in approval for the United States: Canada (up four points) and France (up seven points).
Other countries that see the United States in a less favorable light are China (down 11 points) and Russia (down six points).
While America’s approval is still above water in most countries, our standing fell in seven of the 14 countries tracked by Morning Consult since August 14. In other words, Biden has failed to restore our standing in the world. This poll came before the terror attacks at Kabul airport, and it’s hardly a stretch to assume our standing has taken a bigger hit since.
But this poll shows there’s more to America’s approval abroad than foreign policy or social issues. Respect for America as a country seems directly linked to our perceived strength. The botched withdrawal has made America look weak, and respect for our nation has thus started to decline. Other countries may not like the United States, but they respected our strength. Unfortunately, Joe Biden has squandered that strength and respect.