WASHINGTON (AP) – The United States (US) international outlook has undergone a major shift in recent years, a new poll shows, with a majority now expecting that US relations with allies will stay the same or improve but that US dealings with traditional adversaries like Russia and North Korea will only grow more hostile.
Two years into the Biden administration, the assessments look much different from four years ago, at roughly the same point in the Trump administration. Now, 60 per cent of US adults say relations with adversaries will get worse, up from 26 per cent four years ago, according to the poll from the Pearson Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Just 21 per cent say relationships with allies will deteriorate, down from 46 per cent then.
In general, 39 per cent expect the country’s global standing to worsen, compared with 48 per cent who said that in 2018. Crucially, the US own sharply divided domestic politics influences views of the country’s standing abroad.
“Those results really, clearly show that it’s hyperpartisanship” affecting how confidently or bleakly, respectively, Democrats and Republicans see the US standing abroad, said political scientist and executive director of the Global Forum at the Chicago-based Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts Sheila Kohanteb.
In terms of the opinions that people in the US are expressing on US dealings abroad, the key factor is “political bloc sticking with political bloc”, Kohanteb said.
Four years ago, three-quarters of Democrats expected US global standing to suffer. Now, roughly that same percentage see stability or improvement in the near future. By comparison, about six in 10 Republicans predicted improvements in 2018; now that same percentage expect the current administration to stumble.
Other countries are “probably laughing at us, waiting for us to fall apart,” said a 30-year-old Republican in Winston-Salem, North Carolina Kristy Woodard. She said she saw the economy and US leadership as suffering under President Joe Biden.
“I don’t think we really have allies anymore because the United States is just a joke at this point,” Woodard said.
But David Dvorin, a 49-year-old Democrat in Pittsburgh who works as a price specialist, said Biden was winning respect abroad by rallying international allies to respond to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The war in Ukraine has shown the leadership of the Biden administration, to be able to hold most of Europe together,” Dvorin said.
Still, as Russia amps up its assault on Ukraine, and the US confronts North Korea and Iran over those countries’ nuclear programmes, similar percentages of Republicans and Democrats say that relationships with adversaries will get worse in the next year.
The Pearson Institute/AP-NORC poll also shows strong support for a US foreign policy that protects women and minorities around the world – even though few people think the US is doing a world-beating job of protecting those same interests at home.