Pew, Haley Send Mixed Messages on U.S. Leadership

 Paul D. Shinkman

INTERNATIONAL confidence in President Donald Trump is particularly low in key countries, according to a new analysis that comes the same day that outgoing U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley told reporters at the White House respect for the U.S. is on the rise globally.

"Look at what has happened in two years with the United States on foreign policy," the former South Carolina governor said during an Oval Office appearance with Trump in which she also disclosed she will be stepping down at the end of the year. "Now the United States is respected. Countries might not like what we do, but they respect what we do. Now if we say we're going to do something, we follow through."

Haley's comments came not long after Pew released a report Tuesday showing that 10 percent or less of respondents in Germany, France and Spain believe Trump is trying to do the right thing in world affairs. Slightly more than a quarter of Britons expressed such confidence. Their confidence was much higher during the Obama administration and slightly higher for George W. Bush's presidency.

Other surveys have cast doubt on whether the world uniformly supports the U.S. and Trump's policies. Global confidence in the U.S. president plummeted from 64 percent at the end of the Obama administration to 22 percent at the beginning of Trump's term, according to an earlier analysis from Pew Research. Overall, opinions of the U.S. dropped from 64 percent favorable in 2016 to 49 percent during that time.

Yet America's overall popularity persists, according to the recent Pew data, with half of respondents from 25 countries surveyed holding a favorable opinion of the U.S. and 51 percent believing the U.S. respects the personal freedoms of its people. Favorable views are particularly high in parts of the Pacific Rim, with support from 80 percent or more respondents in the Philippines and South Korea.

Critics of Trump's policies routinely say the U.S. is withdrawing as a leader on the world stage and as an arbiter of international issues, leaving room for rising powers like China to exert increased influence over foreign matters. Respondents to the Pew data appear to agree, with 70 percent saying China plays a larger role in the world compared to 10 years ago.

Haley, during her Oval Office remarks, pointed to several of the administration's international talking points as examples of how the U.S. is keeping its word. She cited the April 2017 U.S. missile strike on a Syrian military facility as retribution for the use of chemical weapons by the regime of President Bashar Assad against its own people – an action Trump's predecessor Barack Obama refused to do following similar circumstances in 2014. She also credited the president with insisting that NATO members contribute more to meet their previously established goal of spending 2 percent of their budgets on defense by 2024.

Haley cited trade deals, like the administration's renegotiating aspects of the North American Free Trade Agreement and signing a new trade pact with South Korea in recent weeks. And she referenced cuts to the U.N. budget that she says made it "stronger and more efficient" as well as new sanctions against South Sudan and North Korea, America's withdrawing itself from international pacts like the Iran nuclear deal and its moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

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