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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.

Biden to sign executive orders focused on women's rights

President Biden. Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images

President Biden will sign executive orders Monday establishing a Gender Policy Council and directing the Department of Education to review the federal law Title IX, according to administration officials.

Why it matters: The Biden administration is signaling its priorities to advance gender equity and equality as women, particularly women of color, have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

3 hours ago - World

Report: U.S. calls for UN-led Afghan peace talks

Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department in Washington, D.C., in February. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a letter outlining a plan to accelerate peace talks with the Taliban that the U.S. is "considering" a full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, Afghan outlet TOLOnews first reported Sunday.

Why it matters: In the letter to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, also obtained by Western news outlets, Blinken expresses concern that the Taliban "could make rapid territorial gain" after an American military withdrawal, even with the continuation of U.S. financial aid, as he urges him to embrace his proposal.

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