America’s Wake-Up Call — How The World Sees Us

Donald Trump says he has accomplished more in just under four years than any other president in history.  Quite a statement, isn’t it?  Most people, on hearing his boast, rolled their eyes and muttered, “Yeah, right.”  But in one sense, he is right.  He has accomplished more to destroy our alliances and our image in the rest of the world than any other president to date.

According to a recent PEW Research survey, Donald Trump is less trusted than the leaders of Germany, France, UK, and even Russia & China.


In Western Europe, here is how the current administration ranks compared to the past two …


And I could go on with further studies and charts, but you get the picture … Donald Trump, and by extension the United States, is less trusted today than it was four years ago.  The important thing, I think, is to understand two things:  Why this is the case, and why it matters.

Of course it goes without saying that Trump’s bungling of the coronavirus pandemic is a large part of the reason our allies … or those who once were allies … have lost confidence in our ‘leadership’, but that isn’t the only area in which there are concerns.

We let our allies down in a major way by pulling out of both the Paris Climate Accords and the Iran nuclear deal … on the latter, we left them scrambling trying to salvage a deal that could very well save the world from a nuclear war.  Just yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on Trump’s orders, announced that we are imposing new sanctions on Iran’s financial sector in defiance of European allies who warned that the move could have devastating humanitarian consequences on a country reeling from the novel coronavirus and a currency crisis.  The sanctions will have a significant impact on Iran’s ability to import food, medicine, and other humanitarian needs.

Our withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords was simply unconscionable, but to add insult to injury, Trump reversed nearly every single regulation that had been put into place by the Obama administration to attempt to reverse the damage to the environment.  It’s important for us to realize that this not only affects the air we breathe and the quality of our water, but that of every country on the globe!  The United States is the single biggest per capita emitter of CO2 on the globe, and yet we are doing the least of any industrialized nation to attempt to stop the destruction of the planet.  Is it any wonder we are not trusted?

In recent months, the killing of George Floyd and other Black Americans at the hands of police has led to massive protests both in the U.S. and around the world.  Yet, the ‘leader’ of our country, rather than using this as an opportunity to improve race relations, to provide training to law enforcement, to meet with Black leaders and work toward peaceful solutions, has taken a negative approach to the mostly peaceful Black Lives Matter protests.  He has refused on more than one occasion to denounce white supremacist groups, and as recently as last week, publicly told one of the most volatile white supremacist groups, the Proud Boys, to “stand down and stand by”, as if their gun-toting presence might be required.

When Trump sent troops to Portland, Oregon, to wantonly arrest citizens … those who were engaged in peaceful protests, those who were suspected of violence, as well as citizens simply going about their business … it did not sit well with the people of the U.S., but it also sent shock waves through the rest of the world.  According to Ana María Careaga, an Argentinian psychologist who suffered through the military dictatorship of Jorge Rafael Videla in the 1970s …

“What’s happening is very dangerous in a way similar to the dictatorships we had to endure in South America. Trump is shielding himself behind religious symbols while trying to seduce people to vote for him in the name of freedom, when it is precisely their freedom that leaders like him plan to abolish.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.  For years, part of the daily work of the US state department was to issue denunciations of police brutality, suppression of dissent, and instability in far-flung corners of the globe.  And now, under Donald Trump, we have become the ones we once fought against.  As one journalist in Beijing wrote …

“Trump is tearing apart America. He doesn’t need to send the troops. This will hurt the US’s international image. All of this is about the fight for justice, rights and equality. Whether it is Hong Kong or the US, people need to differentiate between violence and the fight for justice.”

So, even before the pandemic, other countries had reason to lose confidence in the leadership of Donald Trump, and thus in the nation.  Countries that were once staunch allies no longer trust us, and there is a very real danger in that.  From an article in Foreign Affairs magazine titled “The United States Is Not Entitled to Lead the World” …

The self-proclaimed “greatest democracy in the world” has been an erratic one since the late 1990s: in just more than two decades, the country has seen two presidents impeached, an election ultimately decided by the Supreme Court, an internationally controversial war in Iraq, and a financial crisis that sent shock waves around the world. In 2008, the country elected a globally popular Black senator to the presidency—only to lurch in a very different direction eight years later by electing a racist reality TV host who blames American allies for the country’s ills.

Which brings us to the abominable response to the pandemic by Donald Trump.  You all know the story, how he not only downplayed the virus, but outright lied to us, encouraged us to expose ourselves, discouraged the precautions the medical community was urging, and even suggested that we drink bleach or household disinfectants.  Even today, he is minimizing the risk.  As a result, the U.S. has, as of this writing, 7,845,739 cases and 217,972 deaths … the highest of any country on the globe, though we have just over 4% of the world’s population.

Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser, a political scientist at Chile’s Diego Portales university and co-author of “Populism, a Very Short Introduction”, sees a Trump presidency in chilling terms …

“Trump is using the pandemic to position himself as a God-given saviour coming to avert an imminent catastrophe.  His re-election, should it happen, will be considered – not least by him – as a clear indication that the time is right to push on with his radical, populist rightwing agenda. If that prediction is right, then Covid-19 will come to be seen as not just the bringer of death and recession in the US, but also as the forerunner that paved the way for the destruction of US democracy.”

The second part of the question is one that I have heard expressed in a number of different ways:  Why does it matter what the rest of the world thinks?

I literally cringe every time I hear this, no matter how it is phrased.  A few days ago someone said to me, “You know what?  I don’t give a sh*t what the rest of the world thinks … I live here.”

Donald Trump ran in 2016 on an “America First” platform, saying that the rest of the world was taking advantage of the U.S. (they weren’t) and that from now on he would only engage in international relationships where he was the “winner”.  Well, guess what, folks … there are no winners, but there are potentially a hell of a lot of losers, including the United States, once considered a leader of the free world.

You hear a lot of people condemning globalization, but folks … it’s a fact of life.  And we created it with technology.  Airplanes that can take us across the globe in just a few hours, computers and the Internet that give us instant access to what is happening around the world … the world has shrunk in this sense and it is a fool’s errand to attempt to separate one nation from all the rest.  I have often compared our role in the greater world as that of a homeowner in a neighborhood.  If you treat your neighbors crappy, don’t expect them to rush to your defense if you fall in your yard, your house catches fire, or some other disaster befalls you.

Take, for example, trade.  We cannot possibly produce every single thing we need or want, so we rely heavily on imports from other nations, just as they rely on goods produced here in the U.S.  Trade deals should be fair and equitable to all parties, but Trump is determined that such deals will benefit the U.S. more than the other nations involved.  He makes no pretense of being fair.  He has pulled out of the World Health Organization (WHO) during this time of a deadly pandemic, drastically reducing the funding for an organization whose scientists are working hard to find ways to stop transmission and prevent the spread of the coronavirus in order to save lives.  Instead, Trump taunts and ridiculously name calls, referring to the coronavirus as the ‘China virus’ and claiming that he will “make China pay”.

A good neighbor helps his neighbors … helps rake leaves, shovel snow, takes in the mail when the neighbor is out of town.  We have not been a good neighbor to our allies, though Trump panders to our adversaries.  He refuses to hold Vladimir Putin responsible for interfering in both our 2016 election and our current year election, refuses to hold him responsible for the bounties put on the heads of our soldiers in Afghanistan.  He refuses to hold Mohammed bin Salman responsible for ordering the brutal slaying of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi … and yet, he constantly criticizes our allies, particularly Angela Merkel, one of the most respected leaders of Western Europe.

Do you remember September 11, 2001?  Of course you do, but do you remember how our neighbor to the north, Canada, came to our aid that day?  Our airspace was closed, but Canadian Forces provided support for stranded aircrew and passengers from diverted commercial flights.  Canadian citizens opened their homes to stranded passengers, providing food and shelter.  They didn’t have to do that, but they did.  Today, only 35% of Canadians view the U.S. positively.  There comes a time when we all need help.  If Russia or Saudi Arabia, Iran or North Korea were to attack the United States, who would come to our aid?  Think long and hard about that one, folks, for we have not been a good friend for the past four years.  Take a look at the second chart at the beginning of this post.  President Barack Obama was respected and trusted, and as a result our nation was safer.  Today, we are less safe than we were four years ago, contrary to what the team of Trump/Pence claim.  We are persona non grata in many nations, largely for our ineptitude in dealing with the pandemic.  Another four years and we will have no allies, no friends to count on, only an autocratic ruler with little or no concern for any but himself.

The way in which the world views us is important, and right now other industrialized nations do not look upon us as a trusted friend and ally.  We need to restore that trust, but Donald Trump cannot … will not … do so, for in his mind it is always a win/lose proposition … there is no give-and-take, no compromise.  We ask that you think about this one long and hard … our lives may depend on it.

47 thoughts on “America’s Wake-Up Call — How The World Sees Us

  1. Pingback: America’s Wake-Up Call — Table of Contents | Filosofa's Word

    • I know! I nearly scream “NO THEY DON’T” every time I hear it. At first, we were the laughingstock of the world, then we were their object of derision, and now we are an outcast … the rest of the world is moving on without us. Eventually, if this keeps up, we will become the enemy. We’re headed there now. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. An excellent essay Jill, and the above comments indicate just how concerned so many are. Thank you for your excellent work and clarity of thought. All my best to you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much, JoHanna! Yes, many of us are deeply concerned for the future of this nation. We must get back on the right path quickly, else it could be too late. And my best to you and yours, also, my friend!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. The president is sick, unstable and on at least one mind-altering drug, is probably still contagious, is refusing to release the results of his most recent tests for covid19, is planning more super-spreader events for Saturday of this week and beyond … You tell me how much he has done for this country/

    Liked by 3 people

  4. This Canadian cried when Obama first took office, tears being the only emotional response capable of expressing magnitude of this moment in history. It’s hard to verbalize, but assure you I wasn’t the only Canadian shedding a tear born of hope and admiration for arguably one of the greatest Americans in history. I vomited (true story) when Trump prevailed in 2016. Today you couldn’t pay me to enter the U.S. America under Trump has become inconsequential. All the MAGA chest pumping in the world won’t budge global disdain for the United States.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. According to a substantive number of his supporters, God sent Trump to be president.
    To which I say….
    Are you sure it wasn’t the ‘Other Guy’ who is responsible….Uh?
    In Matthew 7:15-16, Christ said: “‘Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are voracious wolves. You will recognize them by their fruit…”
    Now who does that remind you of….Hmmm?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Mr Putin may one day tire of his political games and decide to consolidate his grasp on the US. This may involve tactical strikes and Trump as his creature would no doubt egg him on even at the disgust of his own people who have fed him this power. I would suggest that all the old allies may well come to America’s defence if the American people request it. But this would partly be for selfish reasons as we wouldn’t know who might be next. The price would be that Trump stand down though and I don’t doubt he’d be telling his base not to accept preconditions but to fight. It would pay the Republicans to understand what depths Trump would stoop to and to abandon him and start rebuilding their party now. Trump’s base should accept that as the minority party they don’t have the right to dictate to the majority party and they should mourn the 213,000 victims of Trump’s callousness and Covid 19 wondering just how many more there might be on both sides.

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    • I have no doubt that Putin, who plans to remain president of his country ’til his death, would not hesitate to try to make the U.S. part of his “Soviet-style empire” that he is attempting to build. I am fairly confident that ultimately, our allies of yesteryear would come to our rescue, but as you say, with trepidation and with terms & conditions. Frankly, I’m not sure we deserve rescuing. It seems that some portion of this country would prefer an authoritarian regime (check the link I put on Jeff’s/Keith’s comment below … it is enlightening, to say the least). Unfortunately, Trump’s base, being about 40% of adults in this nation, don’t see themselves as being the minority. Sigh. And, even sadder … they say every cloud has a silver lining … had it not been for the pandemic, Trump would likely be polling far ahead of Joe Biden right now. The main thing that has brought him down is his bungling of the pandemic. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think Biden will go a long way toward restoring world trust, but Trump has created such havoc that I’m not sure it can be done quickly or easily. The first step, of course, is to re-enter the treaties we backed out on, especially the Paris Climate Accords, and then prove to our allies that we mean what we say by re-instituting the regulations that would protect the earth’s atmosphere. Sigh. Lots to be done … I suspect it will take decades to fully reverse the damage that has been done in a short four years.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Here in England no politician or government official is either trusted or popular. Boris Johnson’s popularity has fallen to 5%. We just don’t believe anyone anymore ~ that includes your Mr. Trump. Frankly your election is low on our priorities list. But Jill, I hope you are well. Hugs to you ❤❤❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • I dunno … it seems the press in the UK is very interested in the outcome of the election, as are many of my readers from the UK. In truth, the outcome of this election won’t only affect people here in the U.S., but ’round the globe. I’m okay, Jack … just okay. Hugs to you too, my friend. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Reblogged this on On The Fence Voters and commented:
    Some say it doesn’t matter how other countries feel about America. But Jill provides compelling reasons why this approach is so misguided. The current president, with his America first policies, has destroyed many of our once ironclad alliances throughout the Western world. Contrary to his belief, we NEED our friends and allies. If Joe Biden is victorious on November 3, he’s going to have his work cut out for him. Repairing the damage done to our standing in the world won’t be easy, but must be high atop the priority list in 2021. Thank you Jill!

    Liked by 3 people

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