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Data: Gallup; Map: Naema Ahmed/Axios

America has an image problem. A Gallup poll of 135 countries finds virtually equivalent rates of approval for U.S. (median of 33%), Chinese (32%) and Russian (30%) global leadership.

Breaking it down: The U.S. approval rate is down from 48% in 2016, and it slides even lower among democratic allies like Canada (20%) and Germany (12%). Any significant improvements, the report notes, have tended to come in "some of the world's least democratic societies."

  • Approval of German leadership, meanwhile, has jumped to 44%, though Germany plays a more limited global role than the U.S. or China.

In Europe, approval of U.S. leadership has fallen by nearly half since President Trump took office, though it remains higher than at the end of George W. Bush's tenure (18%).

  • By the numbers: Germany (56% approval), U.S. (24%), China (23%), Russia (19%).
  • The big picture: The U.S. sits at or below 30% in 30 of 39 countries, including allies like the U.K. (25%) and many NATO countries that are deeply reliant on America's military strength.
  • Highest: Kosovo (82%) and Albania (67%), both Balkan countries that have benefitted from U.S. support, followed by two countries — Poland (59%) and Hungary (47%) — that have clashed with Brussels over rising authoritarianism but have been embraced by Trump.
  • Lowest: Iceland (9%), Austria (11%), Sweden (12%) and, unsurprisingly, Russia (11%).

In the Americas, approval of U.S. leadership plummeted from 49% to 24% in Trump's first year in office, but it has ticked upward since.

  • By the numbers: Germany (35% approval), U.S. (34%), China (32%), Russia (28%)
  • The big picture: America's neighbors — Canada (22%) and Mexico (17%) — view its leadership very unfavorably. Colombia (41%), Venezuela (39%) and Brazil (38%) are more favorable.
  • Support is low in two relatively wealthy South American countries — Chile (16%), Uruguay (19%) — and highest in the Dominican Republic (56%) and El Salvador (44%).

In Asia, particularly in the Middle East, views of U.S. leadership have long been mixed, though disapproval (39%) has now surpassed China's level (37%).

  • By the numbers: Germany (39% approval), U.S. (32%), China (31%), Russia (30%).
  • The big picture: Approval of U.S. leadership is worryingly low in Afghanistan (17%), almost nonexistent in Iran (6%), Yemen (10%), and the Palestinian territories (10%), and sky-high in Israel (64%).
  • Highest: Israel, Turkmenistan (62%), Mongolia (62%), Philippines (58%), Nepal (54%), Myanmar (53%).
  • Other notables: Australia (23%), India (34%), Indonesia (21%), Iraq (27%), Japan (34%), Pakistan (27%), Turkey (12%).
  • In Hong Kong (31%) and Taiwan (40%), two territories looking to the U.S. for protection from China, more respondents disapprove than approve of the state of American leadership.

African countries tend to welcome engagement from both the U.S. and China, though approval of U.S. leadership sloped down dramatically during Obama's tenure, from 85% in 2009 to 53% by 2016.

  • By the numbers: U.S. (52% approval), China (51%), Germany (46%), Russia (40%).
  • The big picture: U.S. leadership is very unpopular in Libya (20%), where America intervened militarily in 2011, but not in the Sahel — Niger (65%), Mali (64%) — where the U.S. is involved in counterterror operations.
  • Approval tends to be high in sub-Saharan Africa and lower in North Africa.

Worth noting: Some of the numbers are skewed by very high "don't know/refuse" rates, which were above 40% in countries ranging from Bulgaria to Panama to Vietnam to Botswana. Laos was an outlier, with 86% "don't know."

  • Those rates were typically under 20% in Western Europe and the Americas.

Go deeper

Oct 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden's China plan: Bring allies

Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Joe Biden is planning to confront China across the globe, embracing some of President Trump's goals but rejecting his means.

The big picture: By starting a trade war with China, Trump has fundamentally altered the U.S.- China relationship — and forced both Republicans and Democrats to accept a more confrontational approach towards Beijing.

Updated 21 mins ago - World

Myanmar's deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced to 4 years in prison

An anti-coup protest in Yangon, Myanmar.Photo: Hkun Lat/Getty Images

A Myanmar court sentenced the country's ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, on Monday to four years in prison on charges of "inciting public unrest" and breaking COVID-19 protocols, per the New York Times.

Why it matters: It's the first of several verdicts that could result in the 76-year-old Nobel laureate being imprisoned for the rest of her life.

2 hours ago - World

Pope Francis denounces European governments' migrant response

Pope Francis adresses refugees at the Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) in Mytilene on the island of Lesbos on Sunday. Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis criticized European countries' response to migrants and asylum seekers during his visit to a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos Sunday.

Why it matters: The pope said "migration is a humanitarian crisis that concerns everyone," but little had changed in the global response to displaced peoples since his first visit to Lesbos five years ago, per a transcript of his remarks. "Human lives, real people, are at stake. ... let us stop this shipwreck of civilization!"

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