Approval ratings for both President Obama and the United States have dropped significantly in Germany, America’s most important ally in Europe, because of revelations about the U.S. spying on the Berlin government and America’s use of Drone strikes in such countries as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
Opinion poll results from 44 countries published yesterday by the Washington-based Pew Research Center, which describes itself as “a non-partisan fact tank,” show that President Obama is still largely popular internationally with a median of 56 per cent saying they have confidence in him to do the right thing in world affairs.
While Obama no longer has the same high levels of popularity that he enjoyed immediately after his election in 2008, there has been very little change in his appeal over the past year.
However there was a big decline in Obama’s ratings in Germany, where last October Der Spiegel newspaper disclosed that American intelligence agents had been spying on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s private mobile telephone since 2002.
Earlier this month diplomatic relations between Berlin and Washington were hit again when as Breitbart London reported Merkel’s government learned that the US National Security Agency was using an employee of the German intelligence service for espionage.
Confidence among Germans in Obama doing the right thing dropped from 88 per cent confident in 2013 to 71 per cent confident now. Pew reports that there is no evidence of a rise of anti-Americanism in most of Western Europe, home to great animosity toward Washington in the middle of the last decade. Only in Germany, where U.S. favourability is down 13 points since 2009, has the positive image of the United States slipped significantly: “And, despite this slippage, roughly half of Germans (51 per cent) still see America in a positive light.”
Richard Wike, director of global attitudes at Pew Research, said the poll showed that “People around the world don’t want the U.S. eavesdropping on their leaders or their citizens – or for that matter, on American citizens.”
“In nearly all 43 countries surveyed outside the U.S., majorities say the U.S. shouldn’t intercept communications from foreign leaders or foreign citizens. And most tend to believe the U.S. government shouldn’t listen in on American citizens either.”
“Moreover, the revelations about U.S. spying by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden seem to have had an impact on America’s reputation for respecting individual liberty – in 22 of 36 countries polled this year and last, fewer people now believe the U.S. government respects the personal freedom of its people.”
“They don’t like drones either. In 39 of 44 countries, a majority or plurality oppose U.S. drone strikes against extremists.”
“Still, the U.S. remains largely popular around the world. Across 43 nations, a median of 65 per cent express a favourable opinion of the U.S.”