The Cable

Muslims, Americans down on Obama’s foreign policy

More than a year after Barack Obama's landmark speech in Cairo, where he laid out his vision to repair relations with the Muslim world, Muslims are growing weary and disillusioned with the U.S. president and his international policies, according to a new survey.

Obama's favorability ratings in all seven Muslim-majority countries surveyed dropped from 2009 to 2010, the Pew Global Attitudes Project found.  He suffered a 10-point drop in approval in Lebanon, Turkey, and Egypt, the location of the speech. In Pakistan, where Obama has given billions of dollars in new aid but where he has also approved a massive campaign of aerial drone strikes, his personal support is now at 8 percent.

The number of Lebanese who support Obama (35 percent) is less than the number of those who support suicide bombing (39 percent).

"Among Muslim publics -- except in Indonesia where Obama lived for several years as a child -- the modest levels of confidence and approval observed in 2009 have slipped markedly," the report reads. "And while views of Obama are still more positive than were attitudes toward President Bush among most Muslim publics, significant percentages continue to worry that the U.S. could become a military threat to their country."

Even among the Indonesians, who have a personal connection to Obama, his approval dropped from 70 percent to 65 percent, perhaps because he twice canceled planned presidential visits there.

The greatest disapproval from all 22 nations surveyed was came on Obama's handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A majority of respondents also disapproved of his handling of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Obama continues to enjoy high levels of support in Western Europe and East Asia. Ratings of Obama are also overwhelmingly positive in Japan (76 percent), South Korea (75 percent), and India (73 percent). In China, 52 percent of respondents expressed "at least some confidence" in him.

In the United States, his numbers on foreign policy have slipped. Last year, 74 percent of Americans surveyed expressed "at least some confidence" in Obama's ability to handle world affairs. This year, that's down to 65 percent. The survey's writers attribute the drop to a shift among Republicans, whose support for Obama's foreign policies dropped from 49 percent to 32 percent.

But even among Democrats, the number of respondents who expressed "a lot of confidence" in Obama's stewardship of international affairs fell from 74 percent to 56 percent in one year.

So which country's residents are happiest with their leaders right now? China.

"China is clearly the most self-satisfied country in the survey," the report stated. "Nine-in-ten Chinese are happy with the direction of their country (87%), feel good about the current state of their economy (91%) and are optimistic about China's economic future (87%). Moreover, about three-in-four Chinese (76%) think the U.S. takes into account Chinese interests when it makes foreign policy." 

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