On June 1st President Obama was answering questions at a town hall at the White House with the YSEALI (Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative) Fellows and made this questionable statement:
People don’t remember, but when I came into office, the United States, in world opinion, ranked below China and just barely above Russia, and today once again, the United States is the most respected country on earth, and part of that I think is because of the work we did to reengage the world and say that we want to work with you as partners with mutual interests and mutual respect. It was on that basis we were able to end two wars while still focusing on the very real threat of terrorism and to try to work with our partners in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s the reason why we are moving in the direction of normalize relations with Cuba. The nuclear deal that we are trying to negotiate with Iran.
Several have disputed that claim including David Limbaugh, “Obama’s Foreign Policy Delusions.” Charles Krauthammer. “Krauthammer Rips Obama on America’s Global Standing; ‘You Wonder…What Planet He’s Living on” and even Time.com (“America Isn’t the World’s Most Respected Country. But It Is a Superpower”) stepped up to dispute the claim.
I immediately wondered what was the basis of Mr. Obama’s claim that the United States is now “the most respected country on earth.“
The question asked in the poll was “Do you approve or disapprove of the job performance of the leadership of _________?” The only option were the U.S., Germany, EU, China and Russia, not quite every country on earth.
From the report:
Results are based on face-to-face and telephone interviews with approximately 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, in each country or area. This report provides annual results of leadership approval of the U.S., Germany, the European Union, China and Russia from 2007 through 2014. Throughout 2014, residents were asked to rate U.S., German and Russian leadership in 135 countries or areas, and residents in 136 countries or areas were asked to rate the EU and China. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error ranged from ± 2.5 percentage points to ± 5.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
I hope that I’ve proven that Mr. Obama’s statement that “People don’t remember, but when I came into office, the United States, in world opinion, ranked below China and just barely above Russia, and today once again, the United States is the most respected country on earth” is based on a very dubious claim which brings me back to Thomas Jefferson’s famous quote to always “question with boldness” any statement by a public official.