Why the world is growing jaded with Obama
August 7th, 2012
09:20 AM ET

Why the world is growing jaded with Obama

By Fareed Zakaria

If President Obama is looking for high approval ratings, he should travel abroad. The numbers from a recent Pew Survey are astounding: 74 percent of Italians have a positive view of Obama, as do 69 percent of French, 60 percent of Britons and 58 percent of Spanish.

These numbers have actually dipped since 2009 – when they were truly stratospheric. But there are two trends that are particularly noticeable. One is the drop in confidence in Obama in Russia and China. Many Russians and Chinese are recognizing that they have issues with the American president because there are geopolitical differences between their country and the U.S., and that whoever is president, those differences are going to persist. Obama was never going to be able to wave a magic wand and make such divides disappear.

More: Romney, Obama both right. And both wrong

Then there’s the Arab world, where there has been much deeper disappointment (although it’s worth remembering that President Obama wasn’t all that popular there in the first place, contrary to conventional wisdom). In this case, the disappointment stems from hopes in the region that Obama would push harder with Israel over the creation of a Palestinian state. In addition, almost everyone is unhappy with the use of drone attacks.

I think the central disappointment for the much of the world, and not just in the Arab world, has been the Arab-Israeli issue, and I think Obama has mishandled that. He appointed a high level negotiator in George Mitchell, which was fine, as was the shuttling back and forth of U.S. officials to build confidence. But then Obama decided that he was going to get personally involved, and he put a lot of his personal prestige on the line.

Whatever you think of what should and should not be done in the Middle East, I think it’s clear that the Obama approach didn’t work. He tried to get the Israelis to freeze settlement activity, and they didn’t. And his efforts didn’t result in any kind of resumption of serious negotiations – so his strategy went nowhere. A better approach, in my view, would have been to spend more time trying to figure out what the likely path to success was – and if there wasn’t one, to avoid any great exertion of presidential prestige.

Obama’s approach ended up with no results, a public spat with the Israeli prime minister (which hasn’t helped him politically at home) and disappointment elsewhere. People believe in winners, and to see a president not be successful on this big issue is bound to affect views of him.

More: Romney walks political tightrope on foreign policy

The other major thorn in the side of U.S. ties with other countries has been the use of drones, and here there is simply a fundamental difference of opinion with the rest of the world. If you look at the Pew survey, almost every country surveyed other than the United States shows more people unhappy with the use of drones than approving (India is the only other country where more people approved of their use than disapproved).

This may be one of those times where we just have to live with that. We are the global superpower, we have this technology that we can use to take on these terrorist groups and it’s one that has been a very effective (nobody would dispute that.)

For much of the world, Obama is seen as symbolic in terms of his background and race – the fact that he has come so far and is the first African-American president. I think the opinion among many in the Arab world when Obama took office is that he would be a transformative figure. But as a leader, Obama has been more of a traditional president, especially in foreign policy. That would also explain why on the issue of foreign policy, Obama leads Romney by 15 points.

Tell us what people in your country think of Barack Obama.

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Topics: China • Global • Israel • Middle East • Military • Palestinian Authority • Russia • United States

soundoff (276 Responses)
  1. ArchieDeBunker

    The mystery is not why the world is becoming "jaded" (read: catching on to his real agenda) but why he was ever popular to begin with. His image has been carefully scrubbed (he spent about $4 million to make sure that no one can ever see his transcripts, ever read the "thesis" he talked about in "Dreams of My Father" or ever find out that he once renouced his U. S. Citizenship so he could go to school in the U. S. as a "poor imigrant" – and never was re-instated. The man is so dumb that unless he is reading from a teleprompter he continually makes horrible gaffes that show his real colors. When Obama said "The private sector is doing just fine" he was actually telling what he really believes. Not that he believes the private sector is really doing well – what he meant was "The private sector is about to be put out of business, and I'm real happy about that because I don't believe there should be a 'private sector' – EVERYTHING should belong to the Government, because we don't believe in private enterprise. Therefore, as far as my goals and objectives are concerned, the private sector is doing just fine.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Reply
    • Todder

      Right on!!!

      August 9, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Reply
  2. MCFx

    Maybe one day, the liberal media will nail Obama for his use of drones. No judge, no jury, no Gitmo prisoners. If this were Bush CNN's Headline would be the "Bush – Judge, Jury, & Executioner". Pres Obama once again get's a pass. Thanks Fareed, for putting your Liberal morals aside and glossing over that KILLING thing the Nobel Peace Prize winner is doing with "this technology that we can use to take on these terrorist groups that's been very effective." While at the same time apologizing to the world for all the killing President Bush did. Hypocrisy!!!

    August 9, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Reply
  3. Duh

    He's and illegal president.....
    Had a name change in Canada around 1982 when he was working at a CIA front up until 1984
    His family is CIA related....
    He can be controlled and therefore bribed..

    August 9, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Reply
    • Smako

      Loosen the straps on your foil hat.

      August 9, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Reply
  4. tman

    he lost my vote on his first bow to a saudi king....how weak ...how sad...to submit (islam)..to a foreigen power!

    August 9, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Reply
  5. Smako

    Do you press ferrets listen to yourselves? World is upset with Obama, voters upset with Romney. Is anyone going to get elected? Is this going to be like the US Mens Gymnastic Team and going to a contest of whomever sucks the least wins?

    August 9, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Reply
  6. taskmaster

    The "world" is sick of this presidential failure.

    August 9, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Reply
    • Patrick

      Go ahead then and explain yourself.

      August 10, 2012 at 10:21 am | Reply
  7. taskmaster

    Why does Fareed always look like he's constipated?

    August 9, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Reply
    • Patrick

      Yes, you have said that before under another monikier.
      I thought it was moronic the first time and moronic every other time.
      Grow up!

      August 10, 2012 at 10:23 am | Reply
  8. Peikovianyii

    Obama's smartest move was buying CNN.

    August 9, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Reply
  9. mugzee44

    The middle East has been at war with itself for more than 5000 years! these countries will never have peace unless they WANT peace! The U.S. should cut ties with all the middle east countries and get OUR own country in order.

    August 9, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Reply
  10. Banks

    Apparently, whoever wrote this article and many of those commenting failed to read the Washington Post article the other day on why Romney skipped visiting Italy.

    Say what you might about Obama and his sheen wearing off in the eyes of the world, but their displeasure with him won't compare to the disgust they('ll) have for Romney.

    August 10, 2012 at 1:41 am | Reply
    • Banks

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/romney-persona-non-grata-in-italy-for-bains-deal-skirting-taxes/2012/08/06/dcac897a-df82-11e1-8d48-2b1243f34c85_story.html

      August 10, 2012 at 1:42 am | Reply
      • Banks

        Oh, wow. Didn't even notice it was Zakariah how penned this. My apologies. I'm certain he's well aware of what Romney and Bain did with the company in Italy– I say that without sarcasm. I am curious as to why Fareed didn't mention it in the discourse above...

        August 10, 2012 at 1:45 am |
    • Oh Boy

      Skipped Italy? just so he can hurry and kiss the ass/wall in Israel? I guess beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, in this case R is bady in need of psychiatric evaluation and treatment. (to be fair, O seems to suffer a bit by the same debilitating disorder.

      August 10, 2012 at 7:21 am | Reply
  11. Jerry

    Oh wow! "For first time in my life" (pun intended) I agree with Fareed Zakaria. What is going on?! Usually Zakaria's opinion pieces clearly demonstrate that he has his head stuck up to his neck in Obamaloney's butt. Why all of sudden is this man being a "somewhat" of an objective newsperson? Well, I for one; am impressed!

    Could it be that newspeople are beginning to see the light? Could it be that Obamaloney's teflon is finally starting to wear thin.

    Stay tuned...

    August 10, 2012 at 6:25 am | Reply
  12. mike

    Because you have a group of bitter, unforgiving and selfish minorities (groups) that no matter how much the majority tries to pander and fulfill their needs and dreams IT'S NEVER ENOUGH. It will NEVER be enough. Yes, blacks, hispanics, gays, Jews, poor, Muslims, ILLEGAL aliens, Tea Parts, Lib, Commies whomever wants to seperate themselves into a small category of like minded people. Amercia first, country first..JFK speeach anyone? He was a smart Lib

    August 10, 2012 at 6:40 am | Reply
    • Oh Boy

      Read Prof Kevin MacDonald's essay on US Immigration Act of 1965. The picture becomes clear who's to blame. Other than that it appears we'Re badly in need of some house cleaning.

      August 10, 2012 at 7:24 am | Reply
  13. Bob B

    I think the world becoming jaded with everything, because of greed, war, religon and too many people.

    August 10, 2012 at 6:50 am | Reply
  14. Oh Boy

    A vote for either O or R is a vote for continued control by zionists of our govt, society, culture, money. I want an independent national govt, one that is based on doing what is morally right for all and not the dirty work of a disgusting, nefarious few which is driving our nation into an abyss.

    August 10, 2012 at 7:15 am | Reply
  15. Mark

    If you liked George II, you love Willard. The government will consist of young fellows with dress shirts and ties (Mormon missionaries) and more war war war. It's good for the economy! If we can't put people to work...put em in a uniform and send em outta the country. No more unemployed..it's how the Nazis did it! Besides Americans really do want a police state and a dictatorship, if they're allowed to do the correct things...like carry guns and eat Big Macs...oh and watch Honey Boo-Boo! She is Us!

    August 10, 2012 at 8:54 am | Reply
  16. Kittyg

    Sure wish we could click like/dislike on these posts!

    August 10, 2012 at 9:08 am | Reply
  17. I avoid your neighborhood, why you always panhandling in mine?

    Q: 10 trillion / 2 = x Solve for x
    A: x = 16 trillion

    August 10, 2012 at 9:22 am | Reply
  18. Davehuckle

    As a Canadian i would much rather have Obama in office than Romney. I still have nightmares about President Bush and Romney would be very similar. Just do forget that Obama did inherit a country that was in the verge of a Global Depression as a result of Bush's 8 years in office.

    August 10, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Reply
  19. john Grissom

    Well, I had a comment but it did not get posted...I sent it 3 times and nothing...Maybe it is because I call Obama a disappointment...who knows...I do not care whether this comment gets posted or not...the dangerous part is how opinion gets manipulated by allowing only those favorables ones to the manipulator's objective to get pusblished....

    August 10, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Reply
  20. cacique

    The world should not expect the American president to solve all their problems. No president has done it in the past, why would the world hope that the present president could solve their problems...? The president has solved problems that were pestering the USA, but wisely has refused to get the country involved in problems that do not concern us that much, and even so they have been solved by the specific countries, good or bad..it is their cirqus.
    I think that many countries think that if a Black got to be president of the USA it was because he must be superman, therefore, a world savior. But if they only know that the USA president counts with very little support from the rich and almost zero support from the Republicans, then they would understand how inflated their hopes maybe...

    August 10, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Reply
    • Patrick

      Calling the President of the USA a "black" makes you a bigotted racist pig.

      August 10, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Reply
      • tomas

        I'm calling obama a black and could care less what you think about it!

        September 2, 2012 at 6:34 am |
  21. lanse

    obama is just an economic disater for america plain and simple.

    August 10, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Reply
    • Patrick

      You say that and then you have nothing to back it up.
      How juvenile!

      August 10, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Reply
  22. GIVE OBAMA THE NOBEL WAR MONGER PRIZE

    Dear world we The American people want to nominate Obama THE NOBEL WARMONGER prize. Together we can do this, he really deserves this. His Drone strikes in pakistan alone have killed over 200 children. He has almost achieved his goal of turning back 50 years of progress and is helping the radicalization or the mid east. Full berkas on to you Oboma.

    August 17, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Reply
  23. Joseph McCarthy/Quigley/LyndsieGraham/krm1007 ©™/Joe Collins/J. Foster Dulles/Marine5484

    I am a useless piece of camel dung. I post anti American, anti GB, anti semite, anti India, anti modern anything because I am a good moooooslem. I steal people's monikers because I am so ashamed of myself and post the most stupid comment. When people get angry with me, I claim insanity. I am the same guy.

    August 18, 2012 at 8:57 am | Reply
  24. tomas

    I could care less what the world thinks about obama! I think that the man cannot be trusted. The sooner he is out of office the better!!!

    September 2, 2012 at 6:27 am | Reply
  25. tomas

    What does Joe Biden and Fareed Zakaria have in common?

    September 2, 2012 at 6:39 am | Reply
  26. kdgaur

    what a bunch of crock!

    July 5, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Reply
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