Although the image of U.S. leadership is showing some cracks in the third year of President Barack Obama's presidency, it remains more positive worldwide than during the last years of the Bush administration. Across 136 countries, median approval of U.S. leadership in 2011 stood at 46% -- relatively unchanged from the 47% median across 116 countries in 2010.Last month, Pew reported:
Yet, U.S. leadership ratings in 2011 failed to regain the momentum they lost in 2010, and instead remained static or retreated even more in some places. Gallup surveyed more countries in 2011 than in 2010, but looking at approval in just the countries surveyed in both 2010 and 2011, the median is slightly lower at 43%, suggesting the U.S. has lost some of its status.
Nearly a year ago, as Japan struggled with the devastation wrought by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the United States military launched “Operation Tomodachi,” a major humanitarian aid mission, to help the Japanese government respond to the crisis. The effort made a strong impression on the Japanese people – ratings for the U.S. reached sky-high levels following the American mission. And it was not the first time that relief to those in need has enhanced America’s reputation. In recent years, both Indonesians and Pakistanis have expressed more positive views about the U.S. after receiving significant levels of disaster relief. However, the Indonesian and Pakistani examples also suggest that the impact of humanitarian efforts has its limits.