President Donald Trump has made one thing very clear during his time in the White House: He doesn’t care about being popular in foreign countries.
“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” he famously/infamously said while announcing his 2017 decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.
Well, mission accomplished!
According to new poll numbers from Pew detailing the opinions of residents of 32 foreign countries, just 29% said they had confidence in Trump to do the right thing regarding world affairs, while 64% said they had no confidence he could or would do the right thing.
Those numbers are startling — especially when you consider where they rank in comparison to several authoritarian leaders in the world. Take Russian President Vladimir Putin: 33% said they had confidence he would do the right thing while 57% did not have that confidence. Or Chinese President Xi Jinping, about whom 28% expressed confidence that he would do the right thing in world affairs while 43% don’t have confidence that he will.
Now go back and read that paragraph again. What it says is that in the world community, fewer people express confidence in Trump to do the right thing than Putin and Xi. So, yeah.
There are lots of other numbers in the poll regarding how Trump is viewed around the world that are eye-popping (if not totally shocking).
Like the fact that he is considerably more popular among supporters of far-right populist movements in Europe than the general populace. Among those who express a favorable opinion of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party in France, which holds strongly anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim views, 43% said they have confidence in Trump’s ability to make the right decisions for the world. Just 13% who have an unfavorable opinion of the National Rally party express that same confidence.
Or the fact that in just six of the 32 nations polled a majority or close to a majority expressed confidence in Trump’s ability to handle world affairs. His best scores come in Israel (seven in 10 have confidence in Trump’s judgment) and he also scored 46% on the confidence metric in Ukraine, which, um, has been in the news quite a bit of late.
This will not bother Trump. Nor will it hurt him in any way among his supporters. In fact, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Trump tweets these numbers out to his followers to tout just how great he had made America (again) — and how other nations don’t like it.
Tough for them, he will argue! We are winning, winning, winning!
And there is truth to the argument that Trump’s policies — on immigration, on trade, etc. — are making good on what he promised to do as a candidate and are not the sort of things that would likely make other countries happy.
At the same time, there is a cost — both short-term and long-term — to losing the trust of other nations, especially longtime allies. The globalization of, well, everything means that we can’t simply go it alone forever. We do and will need allies. And this poll suggests that even (and maybe especially) our allies do not trust us.