In our chapter on national security and foreign policy, we examine international views of the United States. Gallup reports some new data:
The image of U.S. leadership worldwide was weaker during President Barack Obama's fourth year in office than at any point during his first administration. Median approval of U.S. leadership across 130 countries stood at 41% in 2012, down measurably from 49% approval in Obama's first year. Despite these poorer scores, approval ratings for the most part remain stronger than they were at the end of the last Bush administration.
This shift suggests that the president and the new secretary of state may not find global audiences as receptive to the U.S. agenda as they have in the past. In fact, they may even find even once-warm audiences increasingly critical. The image of U.S. leadership continued to be the strongest worldwide in Africa in 2012, bolstered by strong majority approval in sub-Saharan Africa. However, this strong support in the subcontinent, which first showed signs of weakening in 2011, waned more in 2012.
U.S. leadership remains far less popular in North Africa, except in Libya, where U.S. support for the revolution may have generated an almost unprecedented level of goodwill toward America. A majority of Libyans (54%) surveyed before the attack in Benghazi approved of U.S. leadership in 2012. In Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt, no more than one-third approved and ratings remained mostly flat. Algerian approval of U.S. leadership is down slightly since 2011, dropping from 37% to 30%.