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World looks at Trump – a worrying trend?

A recent survey on how the world views United States President Donald Trump in relation to foreign affairs, showed that Filipinos, among all the 37 nations surveyed, had the highest confidence in him – 69 percent.

Next to Filipinos in the survey were Vietnamese and Nigerians, both with 58 percent; followed by Israelis with 56 percent; Russians with 53 percent; and Kenyans and Tanzanians, both with 51 percent.

The nations with the least confidence in President Trump were led by Mexico, 5 percent; Spain, 7 percent; Jordan, 9 percent; Sweden, 10 percent; Germany and Turkey, both 11 percent; Chile, 12 percent; and Argentina, 13 percent.

Most of the traditional US allies were in between the two extremes. Australia had 29 percent, Italy 25 percent, Japan 24 percent, the United Kingdom 22 percent, South Korea 17 percent, and France 14 percent. Worldwide, the average for all the countries surveyed was 22 percent confidence in President Trump.

The Filipinos’ topping the list of nations surveyed is a reflection of how they feel about Americans in general. But the survey report also noted that the Filipinos’ 69 percent confidence in Trump was a big 25-point drop from the 94 percent who, in the previous survey, said they had confidence in President Barack Obama.

The drop in confidence between the two surveys on the two American presidents was greatest in Sweden, where it fell by 83 points; Germany and the Netherlands, by 75 points; and South Korea, by 71 points. The average drop worldwide was 42 points.

It is this big drop in world confidence in President Trump’s leadership that concerns many observers. It is believed to be a reaction to the policies he has pronounced and the actions he has taken in the few months that he has been in office. These include the wall he insists on building along the US border with Mexico, his withdrawal from international trade agreements and the Paris accord on climate change, and his move to restrict the entry of people from certain Muslim-majority nations. His character is said to be also a factor in the survey responses; he is perceived as arrogant and intolerant of other views.

The Pew Research Center survey was conducted from February 16 to May 8, 2017, with 40,448 respondents in 37 countries outside the US.

The Filipinos’ may have topped the survey as the nation with the highest confidence so far in President Trump, but a greater significance lies in the drop from the previous Obama administration to the present Trump administration.
This is only the first such survey on President Trump. If the second one shows a continuing drop, it is a trend that should worry not only the United States, but also the rest of the world which has long looked up to US leadership.