Barack Obama’s star may be fading slightly at home but it is still so bright in Europe that he outshines the leaders of Germany and France in their own countries, according to a poll that shows a remarkable global shift in attitudes towards the U.S. since he took office.
The question is: does it matter?
First, the statistics. The latest Pew Global Attitudes Project, a widely-respected survey that has tracked anti-Americanism around the world since 2002, polled 26,397 people in 25 nations in May and June and found that the image of the United States had improved in all but one (Israel), reflecting, it said, “global confidence in Barack Obama.”
The most dramatic before-and-after-Obama change, from 2008 to 2009, was noted in Britain, France, Germany and Spain. In Germany, 93 percent of those polled expressed confidence in the U.S. president’s leadership compared with 75 percent for German chancellor Angela Merkel. In France, the score was 91 percent for Obama and 53 percent for Nicolas Sarkozy.
In 2008, just 31 percent of Germans saw the U.S. in a favourable light. This year: 64 percent. In France, the favourability rating jumped from 42 percent to 75 percent, in Britain from 53 percent to 69 percent and in Spain from 33 percent to 58 percent. In short, “old Europe,” as former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld used to call it, is head-over-heels in love with Obama.