In 2013, downbeat domestic attitudes coupled with reticence about international engagement poses challenges for a world that still may need a strong United States.
The pace of change in the Middle East – in Syria, Egypt, Palestine and Israel – is accelerating as 2012 draws to a close. But the American people are not paying attention and are deeply skeptical of greater U.S. engagement in a corner of the world that looks increasingly unstable.
Much of the world cheered the re-election of U.S. president Barack Obama. But the president’s honeymoon may be short lived. Disappointment with Obama’s first term foreign policy may challenge both his popularity and his ability to present a positive image of the United States around the globe.
American elections are consequential events and President Obama’s reelection is likely to bring to a head a number of long-smoldering economic and strategic concerns. His biggest challenge may be to bridge the divides among the American people and with America’s allies.
The re-election of Barack Obama as the next president of the United States has ramifications—good, bad and indifferent—for transatlantic relations.
Heading into the third and final presidential election debate, few Americans believe that international concerns are among the most important problems facing the country. However, the public has definite views on international issues. And there are some sharp differences between Republicans and Democrats.
While nearly two-thirds of Americans describe relations between the U.S. and China as good, most are concerned about China’s growing economic strength. Compared with the general public, U.S. foreign affairs experts are less likely to see China as an economic threat and less concerned about Beijing’s rising power.
At a time when the U.S. is still at war in Afghanistan, when in the eyes of foreigners U.S. stature as the hegemonic power is in question, and when a euro crisis could derail the American economy’s tenuous recovery, voters are turning inward. Nevertheless, when American national security is seen as threatened by Iran or terrorism, voters remain aggressively internationalist.
Global approval of President Barack Obama’s international policies has declined significantly since he first took office, while overall confidence in him and attitudes toward the U.S. have slipped modestly as a consequence. In nearly all countries surveyed, there is considerable opposition to a major component of the Obama administration’s anti-terrorism policy: drone strikes.
U.S. humanitarian aid helped improve America’s image in Japan following the devastating March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. However, recent examples from Indonesia and Pakistan show that the impact of disaster relief on ratings for the U.S. has its limits.