By Bernd Debusmann, Reuters
WASHINGTON — The 2012 global performance scorecard is in and the grade for Barack Obama is “failed to meet expectations.”
To varying degrees, that’s the view in each and every of 20 foreign countries — some close U.S. allies, some not — whose citizens were polled for the Pew Global Attitudes Project, a widely respected survey that has tracked the standing of the United States, its president, and assorted foreign leaders every year for the past decade. The Washington-based Pew Research Center polled more than 26,000 people. Though views of Obama are not as rosy as they were in 2009, when he took office after a campaign that promised “hope and change,” the U.S. president’s star is still shining so bright in 11 countries that sizeable majorities in seven and pluralities in another four would like to see him re-elected for a second term in November. So where did Obama fall short of expectations so high that he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize just nine months into office?
A comparison of the 2009 and 2012 Pew surveys provides answers: In 2009, millions around the world thought the president was intent on making a decisive break with the policies of his predecessor, George W. Bush, whose penchant for unilateral actions made him deeply unpopular in large parts of the world. Obama was expected to open a new chapter of multilateralism, take a fair approach on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and energetically push policies addressing climate change. His soaring pre-election rhetoric obviously raised expectations to lofty levels, both abroad and at home. For example, his assertion, in the summer of 2008, that his nomination as the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party would be remembered as “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”