Gallup recently asked Americans to rate the favorability of 21 countries. At the top of the list were Canada and Great Britain with more than 90 percent of the public having a favorable view. In the 80 percent range was Japan, France and Germany. At the bottom were North Korea, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq (ranging from 11 percent for North Korea to 19 percent for Iraq). In the middle range of 50 percent were China, Cuba and Egypt.
- President Trump has met with leaders from the most popular countries, which all correspond to our strongest allies. Each country had some trepidation in the new relations related to trade and security issues. German Chancellor Merkel probably had the most difficult visit.
- The least favored countries are causing the President his earliest challenges: North Korea (11%), Iran (12%), Syria (17%), Afghanistan (17%) and Iraq (19%). Relations with them have military implications, some with American boots on the ground. North Korea has managed to become a major power pariah, which it apparently believes is an effective strategy to secure its survival and win concessions. President Assad must have felt invulnerable with his allies, Russia and Iran, and America just focused on ISIS and not regime change. A few Tomahawks have likely changed his thinking.
- The President is attempting to change American policy and perceptions for some of the nations near the middle of the favorability pack. Egypt’s president has just had a successful visit. Cuba moved up the favorability rating due to the rapprochement. It’s not clear U.S. policy will change. Americans are ambivalent about China. They are competitors, could be a threat, but may be a partner.